Re: [websec] Gen-ART LC Review of draft-ietf-websec-strict-transport-sec-11

Ben Campbell <ben@nostrum.com> Thu, 02 August 2012 17:46 UTC

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Subject: Re: [websec] Gen-ART LC Review of draft-ietf-websec-strict-transport-sec-11
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Hi, thanks for the response.  Comments inline:

On Jul 29, 2012, at 10:29 PM, =JeffH <Jeff.Hodges@kingsmountain.com> wrote:
> 
> > -- Does this draft update any other RFCs (e.g. 2616 or 2818)? If so, that
> > should be explicitly flagged and mentioned in the abstract.
> 
> Good question, I don't believe we've discussed this possibility directly in the websec wg. In looking at the RFCs that do update RFC2616, it doesn't look like draft-ietf-websec-strict-transport-sec (HSTS) is of that ilk.
> 
> However, it nominally appears that an argument could be made that it'd be appropriate to update RFC2818 via draft-ietf-websec-strict-transport-sec, specifically with regards to Section 2.1.  Connection Initiation.
> 
> Though, RFC2818 is Informational, which may be an issue (?). Also, perhaps this is something to more appropriately do via a standards-track rfc2818bis, i.e., have the latter reference the HSTS spec.
> 
> this is something to discuss this coming week @IETF-84 Vancouver it seems.
> 
> 

I will comment on this in response to your post-meeting email.


> > -- I did not find any guidance on how to handle UAs that do not understand
> > this extension. I don't know if this needs to be normative, but the draft
> > should at least mention the possibility and implications.
> 
> Agreed. My -12 working copy now contains these new subsections..
> 
> ###
> 10.  Server Implementation and Deployment Advice
> 
>   This section is non-normative.
> 
> 10.1.  Non-Conformant User Agent Considerations
> 
>   Non-conformant UAs ignore the Strict-Transport-Security header field,
>   thus non-conformant user agents do not address the threats described
>   in Section 2.3.1 "Threats Addressed".  Please refer to Section 14.1
>   "Non-Conformant User Agent Implications" for further discussion.
> 
>                       .
>                       .
> 
> 14.  Security Considerations
>                       .
>                       .
> 14.1.  Non-Conformant User Agent Implications
> 
>   Non-conformant UAs ignore the Strict-Transport-Security header field,
>   thus non-conformant user agents do not address the threats described
>   in Section 2.3.1 "Threats Addressed".
> 
>   This means that the web application and its users wielding non-
>   conformant user agents will be vulnerable to both:
> 
>      Passive network attacks due to web site development and deployment
>      bugs: For example, if the web application contains any insecure,
>      non-"https", references to the web application server, and if not
>      all of its cookies are flagged as "Secure", then its cookies will
>      be vulnerable to passive network sniffing, and potentially
>      subsequent misuse of user credentials.
> 
>      Active network attacks: If an attacker is able to place a man-in-
>      the-middle, secure transport connection attempts will likely yield
>      warnings to the user, but without HSTS Policy being enforced, the
>      present common practice is to allow the user to "click-through"
>      and proceed.  This renders the user and possibly the web
>      application open to abuse by such an attacker.
> 
>   This is essentially the status-quo for all web applications and their
>   users in the absence of HSTS Policy.
> ###

That's all good text, but I'm not sure it actually captures my concern.

From the server's perspective, the fact that non-conformant UAs may exist, the server cannot assume that UAs will honor the extension. This means that a UA might attempt unprotected access to some resource assumed to be protected by this extension. That is, the server can't merely select the extension and forget about things--it still needs to to take the same care to avoid leaking resources over unprotected connections that it would need to do if this extension did not exist in the first place.

I think this is implied by your last sentence above, but it would be better to say it explicitly.


> 
> >
> > -- How should a UA handle potential conflicts between a the policy record
> > that includes the includeSubdomain, and any records for subdomains that might
> > have different parameters?
> 
> this is in the draft. the short answer is that at policy enforcement time, "superdomain matches win".
> 
> At "noting an HSTS Host" time, the HSTS host's policy (if expressed) is noted regardless of whether there are superdomain HSTS hosts asserting "includeSubDomains".
> 
> perhaps this needs to be made more clear?

Maybe I'm missing something, but I'm not getting that answer from the text. Can you point out the specific language?

> 
> 
> >
> > -- section 6.1:
> >
> > The draft mentions that directives may be extended, but defers creation of an
> > IANA registry to the time of first extension. IANA registries are not
> > expensive; I suggest it be created now. If there's a good reason not to, then
> > the draft should still address the specification policy for extensions.
> >
> > Also, do you expect that some future directive might need to have a
> > "required-to-understand" status? Given that this is a security-affecting
> > extension, it seems likely. If so, then the mechanism for expressing that
> > needs to be defined in this draft.
> 
> 
> These are good questions, and they beg the overall question of how complex this simple solution really needs to be and whether we really think we'll need any extensions. Something for us to discuss in the working group meeting on Tue morning I think.

I will comment on this in the post-meeting mail.

> 
> >
> > -- section 7.2:
> >
> > Am I correct to assume that the server must never just serve the content over
> > a non-secure connection? If so, it would be helpful to mention that, maybe
> > even normatively.
> 
> It's a SHOULD, see the Note in that section, so it's already effectively stated normatively, though one needs to understand HTTP workings to realize it in the way you stated it above.  Perhaps could add a simple statement as you suggest to the intro para for section 7 Server Processing Model, to address this concern?
> 

I think something of the form SHOULD redirect to HTTPS, but MUST NOT under any circumstances send the content unprotected would improve the text. That's probably already implied, and a reasonable implementor wouldn't due it anyway. But my experience is that some readers will find strange interpretations whenever you give them the wiggle room to do so, so it's better to be explicit.

> 
> >
> > -- section 8.4:
> >
> > Does this imply a duty for compliant UAs to check for revocation one way or
> > another?
> 
> yes. though, per other relevant specifications, as duly cited. AFAIK the HSTS spec doesn't need to get into the details because the underlying security transport specs, namely TLS, already do this.

If that duty already exists, then I see no reason to add it here. But do the cited specs unambiguously _require_ revocation checks? I admit to not being an expert here, but on a quick scan it seems more like they say how you can do it, but do they say you have to? 

[...]

> 
> > -- section 1.2:
> >
> > The description of indented notes is almost precisely the opposite of how
> > they are described in the RFC editor's style guide. It describes them as
> > "parenthetical" notes, which is how experienced RFC readers are likely to
> > perceive them. While it doesn't say so explicitly, I think putting normative
> > text in parenthetical notes should be avoided. If these are intended to be
> > taken more strongly than that (and by the description, I take it they should
> > be taken more strongly than the surrounding text), then I suggest choosing a
> > stronger prefix than "NOTE:"
> 
> As it turns out, almost all the Notes are parenthetical.
> 
> I'll render the one(s) that are normative as a regular paragraph(s) and leave the others as-is. Will that address your concern?
> 

Yes, thanks.

> 
> >
> > -- section 7:
> >
> > Does the reference to I-D.ietf-tls-ssl-version3 indicate a requirement for
> > SSL3?
> 
> no, it's just that SSLv3 remains a fact of life and is referenced for completeness' sake.
> 
> 

Okay.

> 
> >
> > -- section 8.2, paragraph 5 (first non-numbered paragraph after numbered
> > list)
> >
> > To be pedantic, this could be taken to mean a congruent match only applies if
> > the includeSubdomains flag is not present. I assume it's intended to apply
> > whether or not the flag is present.
> 
> [ I am assuming you actually are referring to section 8.3, as section 8.2 doesn't mention the includeSubdomains flag and does not contain a numbered list. ]
> 
> yes, a congruent match is intended to apply whether or not the flag is present.
> 
> 

yes, I meant 8.3. And on re-reading, I think the text is fine.

> 
> > -- section 12 and subsections:
> >
> > I was surprised to see more apparently normative material after the
> > non-normative guidance sections. I think it would improve the organization to
> > put this closer to the normative rules for UAs.
> 
> We can move section 12 up ahead of the non-normative guidance sections.

I think that would help, thanks.

> 
> 
> >
> > -- section 14.1, 4th paragraph (first non-bulleted paragraph following bullet
> > list)
> >
> > This issue is only true for proxies that act as a TLS MiTM, right?
> 
> yes.
> 
> 
> > Would
> > proxies that tunnel TLS via the CONNECT method have this issue?
> 
> I don't think so in the general case.
> 
> I'm not sure what terminology to use to differentiate such proxies if this is a detail worth addressing.
> 

Okay

> 
> thanks again,
> 
> =JeffH
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
>