Re: [secdir] draft-ietf-dane-openpgpkey-06 SECDIR Review

Paul Wouters <> Wed, 27 January 2016 11:07 UTC

Return-Path: <>
Received: from localhost ( []) by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 582471A6F6B; Wed, 27 Jan 2016 03:07:08 -0800 (PST)
X-Virus-Scanned: amavisd-new at
X-Spam-Flag: NO
X-Spam-Score: -1.101
X-Spam-Status: No, score=-1.101 tagged_above=-999 required=5 tests=[BAYES_00=-1.9, DKIM_ADSP_ALL=0.8, RP_MATCHES_RCVD=-0.001] autolearn=no
Received: from ([]) by localhost ( []) (amavisd-new, port 10024) with ESMTP id 5wunD4rfxxNI; Wed, 27 Jan 2016 03:07:04 -0800 (PST)
Received: from ( []) (using TLSv1.2 with cipher ECDHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384 (256/256 bits)) (No client certificate requested) by (Postfix) with ESMTPS id 294AC1A6F61; Wed, 27 Jan 2016 03:07:04 -0800 (PST)
Received: from localhost (localhost [IPv6:::1]) by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 3pr2FJ4DR9z3cY; Wed, 27 Jan 2016 12:07:00 +0100 (CET)
X-OPENPGPKEY: Message passed unmodified
X-Virus-Scanned: amavisd-new at
Received: from ([IPv6:::1]) by localhost ( [IPv6:::1]) (amavisd-new, port 10024) with ESMTP id QV-71y5CL0Yn; Wed, 27 Jan 2016 12:06:54 +0100 (CET)
Received: from ( []) (using TLSv1.2 with cipher AECDH-AES256-SHA (256/256 bits)) (No client certificate requested) by (Postfix) with ESMTPS; Wed, 27 Jan 2016 12:06:54 +0100 (CET)
Received: by (Postfix, from userid 1000) id D2068600B884; Wed, 27 Jan 2016 06:06:52 -0500 (EST)
DKIM-Filter: OpenDKIM Filter v2.10.3 D2068600B884
Received: from localhost (localhost []) by (Postfix) with ESMTP id CD4C22608E; Wed, 27 Jan 2016 06:06:52 -0500 (EST)
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 2016 06:06:52 -0500 (EST)
From: Paul Wouters <>
To: Donald Eastlake <>
In-Reply-To: <>
Message-ID: <>
References: <>
User-Agent: Alpine 2.20 (LFD 67 2015-01-07)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed
Archived-At: <>
Cc:, dane WG list <>, "" <>, "" <>
Subject: Re: [secdir] draft-ietf-dane-openpgpkey-06 SECDIR Review
X-Mailman-Version: 2.1.15
Precedence: list
List-Id: Security Area Directorate <>
List-Unsubscribe: <>, <>
List-Archive: <>
List-Post: <>
List-Help: <>
List-Subscribe: <>, <>
X-List-Received-Date: Wed, 27 Jan 2016 11:07:08 -0000

Hi Donald,

Thanks for the secdir review. I've incorporated your suggestions and
hopefully resolved your issues in the -07 draft I just posted at

Comments inline below.

> I think this draft is not ready for publication. It probably minimal
> technical changes but there are significant wording problems with it.
> Security:
> ------------
> This document is "DANE for OpenPGP ..." but never says how what it
> documents is a use of DANE or what DANE is. While there is a reference
> to RFC 6698, at a minimum the DANE acronym should be expanded at first
> use and/or in Section 1.2. Preferably two or three sentences should be
> added to fix this gap.

I added a sentence to the introduction:

DNSSEC Authentication of Networked Entities ("DANE") is a method
for publishing public keys and certificates in DNS.

> I am concerned about the use of the words "validate" and "verify" in
> this document in a wide variety of different ways, and in particular
> their use in connection with OPENPGPKEY RRs. The ordinary and usual
> meaning of these words, when they are not qualified in some way, is
> that something is completely valid/verified for use and can be used
> without further checking. But that isn't what seems to be meant in
> this document. Here it just seems to sometimes mean that it has
> validated under DNSSEC. It might also mean that it is of valid syntax
> and a bit more -- the document is unclear on whether that is included.
> But the use of these words for OPENPGPKEY RRs seems to exclude the
> validation under the web of trust or human judgement even though that
> step is mandated at a couple of places in the document.

The term "verify" is in common use with OpenPPGP, for instance using
the gnupg command where the command is "gpg --verify". I have made
some changes to avoid possible confusion. I have changed the usage
of validation or verification in the context of DNSSEC to consitently
be "DNSSEC validation". I've also changed the word "verification" when
used in a context that is not related to OpenPGP. (for instance by
changing "source ip verification" to "source ip confirmation").

> Looking at Section 5, the "obtain or verify" in the first sentence
> seems odd. Shouldn't it use "and" and be more like "obtain and DNSSEC
> verify"? And in the following sentence, I would say "... ; if DNSSEC
> validation reaches ..." Also, if you are going to start talking about
> a specific DNSSEC state name as is done here, there should be a
> reference to the specific DNSSEC RFC where that state name is defined.

Changed to:

The OPENPGPKEY record allows an application or service to obtain an
OpenPGP public key and use it for verifying a digital signature or
encrypting a message to the public key. The DNS answer MUST pass
DNSSEC validation; if DNSSEC validation reaches any state other than
"Secure" (as specified in RFC-4035), the DNSSEC validation MUST be
treated as a failure.

RFF-4035 has been added as a normative reference.

> In Section 5.1, in the first sentence, I would say "to seek" rather
> than "to discover". "discover" makes it sound like it will always
> un-cover/find something; also I think it would be a bit better to say
> "corresponding to" rather than "belongs to".

Changed as suggested.

> The last sentence in 5.1
> has too many confusing "this"s. Suggest, assuming I have correctly
> understood what you want to say, replacing the current last sentence
> with "An application whose attempt fails to retrieve a DNSSEC verified
> OPENPGPKEY RR from the DNS should remember that failure for some time
> to avoid sending out a DNS request for each email message the
> application is sending out; such DNS requests constitute a privacy
> leak".


> I suggest changing the title of Section 5.2 to "Confirming that an
> OpenPGP key is current" since that is what it is about, not about
> general validity.


> The third sentence of Section 5.2 ("If verifying ...
> a failure") is unclear and not grammatical. Trying to re-write this
> third sentence I come up with "If a locally stored OpenPGP public key
> is found to be different from an OpenPGP retrieved from the DNS and
> DNSSEC verified as described herein, then ...." But I don't understand
> this and don't understand what the "..." should be.

I have changed it to:

If the locally stored OpenPGP public key is different from the DNSSEC
validated OpenPGP public key currently published in DNS, the verification
MUST be treated as a failure unless if the locally stored OpenPGP key
signed the newly published OpenPGP public key found in DNS.

> Can't there can be
> multiple good OpenPGP keys for the same email address?

Yes, there can be. But a locally stored OpenPGP public key must be
considered more secure than a new one observed in DNS, until a human
has confirmed the new key. Unless the old key has confirmed the new key.

> What if one key
> is stored locally and you retrieve two keys, one of which is equal to
> the local key and one of which is different? Presumably it depends on
> the local/user's policy what to do in such a case of different keys.

What I tried to accomplish is that if you have a local key, any key
update must be confirmed by the old key or the user. Switching keys
without further confirmation is just too dangerous.

> How is it helpful to say "the verification MUST be treated as a
> failure"? (This certainly further confuses what "verification" means
> in this document.)

The presence of a new key might mean the old (locally stored) key
was compromised. But the new key cannot just be trusted even if it
passed DNSSEC validation. Unless the old key signed the new key,
human intervention should be used to resolve the conflict. By saying
"verification failure" it blocks the application from sending the data
encrypted to either key - and require a user to resolve the situation.

> It is not clear exactly what that means but if it
> says that a DNSSEC verified OpenPGP key retrieved from the DNS should
> be dropped/ignored, why is that always the right thing?

I did not mean say drop or ignored. A conflict of keys should be
resolved by the user.

> In the second sentence of the first paragraph of Section 7, what does
> the initial "It" stand for?

Changed to:

DANE for OpenPGP as specified in this document is a solution aimed to
ease obtaining someone's public key.  Without manual verification of
the OpenPGP key obtained via DANE, this retrieved key should only be
used for encryption if the only other alternative is sending the message
in plaintext.

> If you were faked-out and believed a false key so email was encrypted
> to the bad guy and could not be read by the intended recipient, I
> would say that was worse than plaintext.

That really depends on the situation. If an attacker can replace
OPENPGPKEY records, they can most likely also change MX records
to just get everything.

> This paragraph goes on to
> talk about active attacks, which usually. in the email context, refers
> to active attacks on the email on the wire, but I would guess this
> text is actually talking about active attacks in the form of storing a
> wrong key in the DNS...

The active attacks refer to everything that can cause a third party to
gain access to the unencrypted email content.

> In re Section 7.5, why isn't the domain name included in the hash? It
> seems to improve security a little and the effort is small.

As stated in that section 7.5:

    The domain name part of the email address is not used as part of the
    hash so that hashes can be used in multiple zones deployed using
    DNAME [RFC6672]

> Other:
> --------
>   Section 1:
> The references for Secure DNS should be given when Secure DNS is first
> mentioned on page 3.


>   Section 1.1:
> I do not think there is such a thing as an "Experimental RRtype". It
> would be better to say something like "This document specifies an
> RRtype whose use is Experimental."


> I don't quite grok the use of "generality of" on page 4. Perhaps it
> should be replaced with "diffuse support of" or something.

Changed to "general application"

>   Section 2:
> As long as you are bothering to say that the OPENPGPKEY RR has no
> special TTL requirements, you might as well say it has no special
> Additional section retrieval requirements, since I think that is the
> most common type of RR special processing. But I think the lack of
> such special requirements is the default so you could probably just
> leave these negative statements out.


>   Section 2.3:
> "textual zone files" -> "master files [RFC1035]" and add [RFC1035] to
> the normative references.


>   Section 3:
> The following statement seems at least a little misleading:
>     The DNS does not allow the use of all characters that are supported
>     in the "local-part" of email addresses as defined in [RFC5322] and
>     [RFC6530].
> DNS is binary clean. What left hand side characters allowed in
> [RFC5322] are now allowed in DNS? Seems to me that only international
> text as such [RFC6530] is a problem for DNS.

And the "." or a NULL. There is also the case sensitivity argument
raised by some.

> Probably the first bullet should be split in two. The first time I
> read it, it seemed that the first sentence was talking about some
> encodings. Then the second sentence talks about other encodings and
> says they are hashed. So, of course, I thought that the encodings
> talked about in the first sentence were not hashed. But the example
> appears to show that the current text had conveyed the wrong thing to
> me and that it is always hashes. I suggest that after "If it is
> written in another encoding it should be converted to UTF-8" be
> followed by a period and then there should be a new bullet item
> talking about hashing, etc., to make it clear that the hashing, etc.,


> apply to all encodings in the first bullet. Furthermore, I don't
> understand why the  text fragment I quote says "should" rather than
> "must" or perhaps just replace "should be" with "is".

Done (with "is")

> Then we get to the truncation. "Truncation comes from the right-most
> octets." is completely ambiguous. At a minimum, a word needs to be
> added so it says "Truncation comes from using the right-most octets."
> or "Truncation comes from dropping the right-most octets."
> Alternatively some other non-ambiguous wording is needed.

Actually I think the whole two sentence that start from this can be
dropped. These add no new information.

> Presumably it is believed that the probability of a hash collision is
> small enough that it can be ignored. If so, it wouldn't hurt to say
> so.

Added to the security section:

In theory, two different local-parts could hash to the same value. This
document assumes that such a hash collision has a negliable chance of

> Section 7:
> The last paragraph of Section 7 seems to equate "Organizations" and
> "mail servers". Suggest recasting the second sentence as "Mail servers
> of such organizations MAY optionally re-encrypt a received message to
> an individual's OpenPGP key.".


>   Section 7.1:
> Again, I assume "indeterminate" and "bogus" are used in their DNSSEC
> meaning. So there needs to be a reference here to the DNSSEC RFC that
> explains those words.

Done, Added pointer to RFC-4035

> Author's Address:
> I understand that many do not agree with me but I believe that first
> page authors should normally list a postal address and a telephone
> number to which a message could be sent or at which a message could be
> left for them in addition to an email address. This section looks like
> schlock corner cutting to me.

I do not agree. Any address and phone number listed would be too
ephemeral or too generic to be of value to anyone.

> Trivia:
> --------
> "twart" -> "thwart" and "twarts" -> "thwarts"


> Section 6: "properties are not exported" -> "properties not be
> exported" and in the following sentence "have" -> "has"


> Section 7: "direct" -> "ask" (a mail client has no power to order the
> user to do anything)

Fixed. Also changed "human" to "user" everywhere.

> Section 7.1: 5th paragraph, "sent" -> "send"