Re: [TLS] draft-dkg-tls-reject-static-dh

Nico Williams <> Wed, 05 December 2018 19:35 UTC

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Date: Wed, 5 Dec 2018 13:35:06 -0600
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From: Nico Williams <>
To: Stephen Farrell <>
Cc: Daniel Kahn Gillmor <>, "" <>
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Subject: Re: [TLS] draft-dkg-tls-reject-static-dh
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On Wed, Dec 05, 2018 at 06:59:07PM +0000, Stephen Farrell wrote:
> My main concern is that a server playing a
> draft-green-like game could just choose DH
> values more cleverly and avoid detection.

We can forbid static server DH keys, and should attempt to preclude them
by encouraging clients to do _some_ work to detect them.

We can preclude Dual_EC style escrow systems by not providing a way to
publish enough material on the wire for an eavesdropper with access to
the Dual_EC secrets to recover the keys.  Dual_EC style escrow systems
are not protocol-neutral.

We can forbid extension/ciphersuite registration for key escrow schemes.
We'd have to direct experts designated for Expert Review to look for
the possibility that an extension or ciphersuite could be used for
in-band key escrow.

But we can't preclude protocol-neutral (out-of-band) key escrow schemes.
These are not detectable (implementation fingerprinting can always be

> E.g. if the DH values are derived via some
> function so that public shares never recur,
> or only rarely. (And while such derived DH
> values would in a sense represent the server
> borking its own crypto, that's basically what
> draft-green suggested anyway, so one might
> expect a DH borking adversary in such cases
> to not care so much about the client's
> security.)

Such a scheme requires some sort of counter to appear on the wire,
similar to Dual_EC.  With no nonces, this can't be done.  But with small
enough counters it will be difficult to preclude their appearance (or
the appearance of a truncated counter, which would require some brute
force on the part of the escrow agents, again like Dual_EC) as there
will always be freedom to express some small number of arbitrary bits

> I guess that testing would also be an issue
> so it'd be great if someone was to try do
> that to check if this might break things.
> (Which'd be useful in any case if it found
> some servers accidentally re-using.)
> Other than that, some more minor comments:
> It'd be good to describe in detail a way in
> which one might efficiently retain the client
> state required, e.g. via a bloom filter maybe?
> (Assuming an occasional false positive isn't
> too alarming;-)

OK, but clients would have to share...:

> It might also be good to outline how a survey
> or CT-like mechanism (say logging some value
> as a witness for the DH public) could be used
> to detect this kind of badness even if common
> TLS clients didn't deploy.

Providing a way for clients to report what they see would have serious
privacy concerns that, IMO, outweigh the static server DH key concerns.

And none of this would help detect/preclude out-of-band escrow systems.
Client-side detection of static/reused server DH keys will simply push
server operators who must escrow to use undetectable out-of-band escrow,
thus wasting all work on client-side detection.