Re: [TLS] Keeping TLS extension points working

Wan-Teh Chang <> Wed, 27 July 2016 16:50 UTC

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From: Wan-Teh Chang <>
Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2016 09:50:18 -0700
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To: David Benjamin <>
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Subject: Re: [TLS] Keeping TLS extension points working
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On Mon, Jul 25, 2016 at 3:32 PM, David Benjamin <> wrote:
> Hi folks,
> I'm not sure how this process usually works, but I would like to reserve a
> bunch of values in the TLS registries to as part of an idea to keep our
> extension points working. Here's an I-D:
> (The name GREASE is in honor of AGL's rusted vs. well-oiled joints analogy
> from )
> One problem we repeatedly run into is servers failing to implement TLS's
> various extension points correctly. The most obvious being version
> intolerance. When we deployed X25519 in Chrome, we discovered an intolerant
> implementation. (Thankfully it was rare enough to not warrant a fallback or
> revert!) It appears that signature algorithms maybe also be gathering rust.
> Ciphers and extensions seem to have held up, but I would like to ensure they
> stay that way.
> The root problem here is these broken servers interoperate fine with clients
> at the time they are deployed. It is only after new values get defined do we
> notice, by which time it is too late.
> I would like to fix this by reserving a few values in our registries so that
> clients may advertise random ones and regularly exercise these codepaths in
> servers. If enough of the client base does this, we can turn a large class
> of tomorrow's interop failures into today's interop failures. This is
> important because an bug will not thrive in the ecosystem if it does not
> work against the current deployment.

Hi David,

In general I like your idea. Thank you for writing up a proposal.

Another source of interop failures is the firewall devices that do
anomaly detection. Some of them will abort TLS handshakes if they see
unknown TLS protocol versions or extensions in ClientHello. (They all
seem to allow unknown cipher suite values.) I suspect they will treat
the GREASE cipher suite, extension, and named group values as "normal"
and continue to abort the handshake if they see truly new values. I
can only hope that these network security devices are updated

Wan-Teh Chang