Re: [Netconf] Adoption poll for crypto-types and trust-anchors

Kent Watsen <> Fri, 04 May 2018 18:41 UTC

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From: Kent Watsen <>
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Thread-Topic: [Netconf] Adoption poll for crypto-types and trust-anchors
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Subject: Re: [Netconf] Adoption poll for crypto-types and trust-anchors
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Following up on this, I did think of a way enable configuration to specify, e.g., which DevID cert to use for a factory-defined private key.  The idea is to change the private-key grouping to reference certificates from the "trust-anchors" data tree (as opposed to locally-storing the certificates).  A 'union' or a 'choice' may allow for both options.

What I don't like about this proposal is that it is conceptually muddies what is a "trust anchor".  Currently, trust anchors are exclusively used to authenticate remote devices, whereas the DevID certificates are more about how the device authenticates itself to remote devices; furthermore, DeviD certs are the end-entity half of the certificate-chain (not the issuer-half).  Yes, in both cases, the partial chain is manifested as one or more X.509 certificates, and thus syntactically the same, but it still doesn't seem right to call them "trust anchors".

Perhaps we could define some other top-level data-tree for "identity certificates", which could include both a private key and its associated certificates.  This would be the "future TBD thing" mentioned below.   I can see this working, but is it any better to have separate "trust-anchors" and "identity certificates" trees, or a single "keystore" tree that contains both?   One benefit to having a single keystore module is that then the "certificate-expiration" notification has more value, applying to both identity and trust anchor cert, as it's good to know when either types of certificate is expiring.

Kent // contributer

On 5/3/18, 12:58 PM, "Netconf on behalf of Kent Watsen" <<> on behalf of<>> wrote:

Hi Balazs, and Balazs,

Thanks for permission to forward this thread to the list.  All, please be sure to read the message below too.

Yes, I'm aware and familiar with various key protection strategies.  The current ietf-keystore module was modeled after MacOS's "keychain access", but it didn't define a protection layer (e.g., internally encrypted and with an access-controlled API), though one could be added later.  The keystore module is very much in-line with what you write and, for that, I think it counts as a "no/do not support" of sorts.

The reason why we're proposing to move away from the keystore module was prompted by Juergen, who questioned if any implementations of SSH or TLS use a KMS and are we creating unnecessary complexity.  As it stands, the current proposal still has SSH/TLS implementations referencing a global "trust-anchors" store, so there is still "complexity", at least in terms of there being a dependency.

The current proposal moves the storage of private keys from being in a centralized keystore (where they can be leafref-ed) to each instance of a ssh/tls client/server.  By doing so, we think that it is less complexity, though I'm not convinced, since the definition of the private key itself is the same, it's just now not leafref-ed.  Perhaps this is an incremental step, whereby we next abandon using the private-key groupings altogether for SSH-specific and TLS-specific variants.  This is very possibly needed, and I might add that no one has implemented any of these modules, AFAIAA.

Adding to this discussion, I was yesterday wondering, with the two new drafts, how a client would configure a server to use a TPM-protected private key and its associated IDevID certificate.  Note that this key and cert are "configured" by the manufacturer and thus, somehow, must be *referenced* (not stored locally) by the ssh/tls client/server modules.   I was able to find a way to reference the private key (via its public key), but I was never able to figure out how to reference the DevID cert (IDevID or LDevID?).    I was thinking that, if we don't go back to using the keystore module, we might be able to modify the private-key grouping definition to enable it to either be locally stored  or be a reference to some future TBD thing.  I haven't tried to do this yet, but being able to do this seems important, and therefore may sway my support for disbanding the keystore module/draft…

Kent // contributor

On 5/3/18, 7:08 AM, "Balazs Lengyel" <<>> wrote:

Hello Kent,
I would like to add that in Ericsson the preferred solution is central storage for keys. It makes administration and enforcement of good security practices simpler for the operator.
regards Balazs Lengyel
(Feel free to forward this to the list.)

-------- Forwarded Message --------

FW: [Netconf] Adoption poll for crypto-types and trust-anchors


Thu, 3 May 2018 11:15:57 +0200


Balázs Kovács <><>


Balázs Lengyel <><>

Bocs, bcc lemaradt

-----Original Message-----

From: Balázs Kovács

Sent: Thursday, May 03, 2018 11:16 AM

To: Kent Watsen <><>

Subject: RE: [Netconf] Adoption poll for crypto-types and trust-anchors

Hi Kent,

I know you might prefer me sending this to the list, but I try this way first. I was a bit away from keystore works and did a quick check. I see you have the below poll ongoing, and I've seen the presentation you had in London.

I must say it was a bit surprising to me backing out from centralized keystore model and the statement of centralized keystore being uncommon. Storage of keys is a security sensitive and problematic area. Secret keys at rest usually need to be encrypted. The provisioning or storage of secret encryption keys, the secure storage, and rotation of keys are a complicated enough matter so that it justifies centralized key store implementations. There are centralized key management systems such as Hashicorp Vault, Azure Key Vault, Google Cloud KMS, OpenStack Barbican, etc.. that solve the above matters. These SW can be used by an implementation to outsource the key management issues, and even if it is outsourced, outsourcing from a central implementation does give benefit since the client usually also needs some client credential that is access controlled on KMS server side.

The other aspect I saw as benefit in centralized keystore was on the YANG interface side. As long as only machines are assumed to operate on these IETF modules, I assume distributed management of keys doesn't matter much, but when it starts to drive human interfaces directly then the configurations of protocols that import and use these security groupings become quite complex. Ok for this one you still have the trust anchors, but for keys the central model was dismissed, but for management aspect, I really don't see why is the difference.

Can you clarify? Have you considered KMS implementations when making this proposal of removing keystore?



-----Original Message-----

From: Netconf [] On Behalf Of Kent Watsen

Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2018 11:57 PM


Subject: Re: [Netconf] Adoption poll for crypto-types and trust-anchors

[I'll get the ball rolling, please, others chime in too]

I support the adoption of these two drafts to replace the existing keystore draft.

Regarding the "certificate-expiration" notification defined in ietf-crypto-types, I would like to discuss removing it, or moving it to be a descendent of the "certificates-grouping" grouping (also in ietf-crypto-types) and maybe also place a copy of the notification in the ietf-trust-anchors module.  That said, I don't like having several otherwise identical notifications in different namespaces, but I do like how the server can incrementally add support for expirations on a feature-by-feature basis.

Kent // contributor

===== original message =====

This is the start of a *two* week poll for adopting the following two drafts as working group documents, specifically to replace draft-ietf-netconf-keystore, which would be removed as a working group document:



This call for adoption is the result of the Keystore draft presentation given in London.  When the various options were discussed, most preferred to move forward with these two drafts, as opposed to looking to do more factoring or extending to scope to include things not needed by our various client/server drafts.  No one expressed interest in moving forward with draft-ietf-netconf-keystore.  While we could separately confirm this result again on the list, we believe that an adoption call more efficiently achieves two goals at once.

Please send email to the list indicating "yes/support" or "no/do not support".  If indicating no, please state your reservations with the document.  If yes, please also feel free to provide comments you'd like to see addressed once the document is a WG document.

Kent (and Mahesh and Ignas)


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Balazs Lengyel                       Ericsson Hungary Ltd.

Senior Specialist

Mobile: +36-70-330-7909              email:<>