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QUIC Version Aliasing

Document Type Active Internet-Draft (individual)
Author Martin Duke
Last updated 2022-11-06
Replaces draft-ietf-quic-version-aliasing
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QUIC                                                             M. Duke
Internet-Draft                                                    Google
Intended status: Experimental                            6 November 2022
Expires: 10 May 2023

                         QUIC Version Aliasing


   The QUIC transport protocol preserves its future extensibility partly
   by specifying its version number.  There will be a relatively small
   number of published version numbers for the foreseeable future.  This
   document provides a method for clients and servers to negotiate the
   use of other version numbers in subsequent connections and encrypts
   Initial Packets using secret keys instead of standard ones.  If a
   sizeable subset of QUIC connections use this mechanism, this should
   prevent middlebox ossification around the current set of published
   version numbers and the contents of QUIC Initial packets, as well as
   improving the protocol's privacy properties.

Discussion Venues

   This note is to be removed before publishing as an RFC.

   Discussion of this document takes place on the mailing list
   (, which is archived at

   Source for this draft and an issue tracker can be found at

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.  The list of current Internet-
   Drafts is at

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

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   This Internet-Draft will expire on 10 May 2023.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2022 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents (
   license-info) in effect on the date of publication of this document.
   Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights
   and restrictions with respect to this document.  Code Components
   extracted from this document must include Revised BSD License text as
   described in Section 4.e of the Trust Legal Provisions and are
   provided without warranty as described in the Revised BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     1.1.  Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   2.  Protocol Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     2.1.  Relationship to ECH and QUIC Protected Initials . . . . .   5
   3.  The version_aliasing Transport Parameter  . . . . . . . . . .   6
     3.1.  Aliased Version . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     3.2.  Standard Version  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     3.3.  Server Connection ID  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     3.4.  Salt  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     3.5.  Packet Length Offset  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     3.6.  Expiration Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     3.7.  Packet Type Codepoints  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
     3.8.  Operational Considerations for Multiple-Server
           Architectures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
       3.8.1.  Multiple Servers for One Domain . . . . . . . . . . .  11
       3.8.2.  Multiple Entities With One Load Balancer  . . . . . .  11
   4.  Additional Client Requirements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   5.  Fallback  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
     5.1.  Bad Salt Packets  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
     5.2.  Client Response to Bad Salt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
     5.3.  version_aliasing_fallback Transport Parameter . . . . . .  16
     5.4.  Server Response to version_aliasing_fallback Transport
           Parameter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   6.  Considerations for Retry Packets  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
   7.  Security and Privacy Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
     7.1.  Endpoint Impersonation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
     7.2.  First-Connection Privacy  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
     7.3.  Forcing Downgrade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
     7.4.  Initial Packet Injection  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
     7.5.  Retry Injection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19

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     7.6.  Increased Linkability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20
     7.7.  Salt Polling  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20
     7.8.  Server Fingerprinting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20
     7.9.  Increased Processing of Garbage UDP Packets . . . . . . .  21
     7.10. Increased Retry Overhead  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  21
     7.11. Request Forgery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  21
   8.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  21
     8.1.  QUIC Version Registry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  21
     8.2.  QUIC Transport Parameter Registry . . . . . . . . . . . .  22
     8.3.  QUIC Transport Error Codes Registry . . . . . . . . . . .  22
   9.  References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  22
     9.1.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  22
     9.2.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23
   Appendix A.  Acknowledgments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23
   Appendix B.  Change Log . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23
     B.1.  since draft-duke-quic-version-aliasing-08 . . . . . . . .  24
     B.2.  since draft-duke-quic-version-aliasing-07 . . . . . . . .  24
     B.3.  since draft-duke-quic-version-aliasing-05 . . . . . . . .  24
     B.4.  since draft-duke-quic-version-aliasing-04 . . . . . . . .  24
     B.5.  since draft-duke-quic-version-aliasing-03 . . . . . . . .  24
     B.6.  since draft-duke-quic-version-aliasing-02 . . . . . . . .  24
     B.7.  since draft-duke-quic-version-aliasing-01 . . . . . . . .  24
     B.8.  since draft-duke-quic-version-aliasing-00 . . . . . . . .  24
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  25

1.  Introduction

   The QUIC version number is critical to future extensibility of the
   protocol ([RFC9000]).  Past experience with other protocols, such as
   TLS1.3 [RFC8446], shows that middleboxes might attempt to enforce
   that QUIC packets use versions known at the time the middlebox was
   implemented.  This deters deployment of experimental and standard
   versions on the internet.

   Each version of QUIC has a "salt" [RFC9001] that is used to derive
   the keys used to encrypt Initial packets.  As each salt is published
   in a standards document, any observer can decrypt these packets and
   inspect the contents, including a TLS Client Hello.  A subsidiary
   mechanism like Encrypted Client Hello [ECHO] might protect some of
   the TLS fields inside a TLS Client Hello.

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   This document proposes "QUIC Version Aliasing," a standard way for
   servers to advertise the availability of other versions inside the
   cryptographic protection of a QUIC handshake.  These versions are
   syntactically identical to the QUIC version in which the
   communication takes place, but use a different salt.  In subsequent
   communications, the client uses the new version number and encrypts
   its Initial packets with a key derived from the provided salt.  These
   version numbers and salts are unique to the client.

   If a large subset of QUIC traffic adopts his technique, middleboxes
   will be unable to enforce particular version numbers or policy based
   on Client Hello contents without incurring unacceptable penalties on
   users.  This would simultaneously protect the protocol against
   ossification and improve its privacy properties.

1.1.  Terminology

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [RFC2119].

   In this document, these words will appear with that interpretation
   only when in ALL CAPS.  Lower case uses of these words are not to be
   interpreted as carrying significance described in RFC 2119.

   A "standard version" is a QUIC version that would be advertised in a
   QUIC version negotiation and conforms to a specification.  Any
   aliased version corresponds to a standard version in all its formats
   and behaviors, except for the version number field in long headers.
   QUIC versions require certain properties to support use as a standard
   version.  QUIC version 1 ([RFC9000]) and version 2
   ([I-D.draft-ietf-quic-v2]) both have the necessary properties.
   Future QUIC version specifications can specify their suitability for
   this purpose.

   An "aliased version" is a version with a number generated in
   accordance with this document.  Except when specified below, it
   conforms entirely to the specification of the standard version.

2.  Protocol Overview

   When they instantiate a connection, servers select an alternate
   32-bit version number, and optionally a server connection ID, for the
   next connection at random and securely derive several parameters from
   those values using a repeatable process.  Among those is a "salt"
   that can be used to encrypt Initial packets instead of the well-known
   salt provided in the specification.  Other parameters serve to
   "grease" parts of the QUIC public header that are currently

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   unencrypted.  Servers communicate these parameters using a transport

   If a client next connects to that server within the indicated
   expiration time, it uses the provided version number and connection
   ID, and encrypt its Initial Packets using a key derived from the
   provided salt.  It uses the other parameters to grease certain public
   header fields.  In all other respects, the packet is identical to an
   Initial packet from a standard version indicated in the transport

   When a server receives a long header packet with an aliased version,
   it uses the version number and destination connection ID to recover
   the parameters, which allows it to extract the header values and
   decrypt the packet.

   When generating parameters, servers can choose between doing so
   randomly and storing the mapping, or using a cryptographic process to
   transform the aliased version number and token extension into the
   salt.  The two options provide a simple tradeoff between
   computational complexity and storage requirements.

   All long header packets use the aliased version and apply the
   greasing parameters.  Short header packets are in every respect
   unchanged from the standard version.

2.1.  Relationship to ECH and QUIC Protected Initials

   The TLS Encrypted Client Hello [ECHO] shares some goals with this
   document.  It encodes an "inner" encrypted Client Hello in a TLS
   extension in an "outer" Client Hello.  The encryption uses asymmetric
   keys with the server's public key distributed via an out-of-band
   mechanism like DNS.  The inner Client Hello contains any privacy-
   sensitive information and is only readable with the server's private

   Significantly, unlike QUIC Version Aliasing, ECH can operate on the
   first connection between a client and server.  However, from the
   second connection QUIC version aliasing provides additional benefits.

   *  greases QUIC header fields and packet formats;

   *  protects all of the TLS Client Hello and Server Hello;

   *  mitigates Retry injection attacks;

   *  does not require a mechanism to distribute the public key;

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   *  uses smaller Client Hello messages, which might allow a larger
      0RTT packet in the same datagram; and

   *  relies on computationally cheap symmetric encryption.

   Note that in the event of the server losing state, the two approaches
   have a similar fallback: ECH uses information in the outer Client
   Hello, and Version Aliasing requires a connection using a standard
   version.  In either case, maintaining privacy requires the outer or
   standard version Client Hello to exclude privacy-sensitive
   information.  However, ECH will allow confidential transmission of
   data in 1 RTT, while Version Aliasing requires 2 RTTs to resume.
   This mechanism is also relevant to mitigation of downgrade attacks
   (see Section 7.3).

   Similarly, the QUIC Protected Initial [QUIC-PI] uses the ECH
   distribution mechanism to generate secure initial keys and Retry
   integrity tags.  While still dependent on a key distribution system,
   asymmetric encryption, and relatively large Initial packets, it
   offers similar protection properties to Version Aliasing while still
   not greasing the version field.  Note that since QUIC Protected
   Initials have their own scheme for protecting Initial packets, that
   version is not suitable for use as a standard version.  However,
   these connections can be used to deliver the version_aliasing
   transport parameter.

   A maximally privacy-protecting client might use Protected Initials
   for any connection attempts for which it does not have an unexpired
   aliased version, and QUIC version aliasing otherwise.

   See also section 1.1 of [QUIC-PI] for further discussion of

3.  The version_aliasing Transport Parameter

   To enable version aliasing, servers deliver a version_aliasing
   transport parameter in any QUIC connection that supports transport
   parameters.  It has the following format.

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    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   |                      Aliased Version (32)                     |
   |                     Standard Version (32)                     |
   |                                                               |
   +                                                               +
   |                                                               |
   +                                                               +
   |                            Salt (160)                         |
   +                                                               +
   |                                                               |
   +                                                               +
   |                                                               |
   |                     Packet Length Offset (i)                  |
   |                       Expiration Time (i)                     |
   |INI|0RT|HAN|RET|  CID length  |   Connection ID (variable)     |

            Figure 1: version_aliasing Transport Parameter value

   These fields are described in the sections below.

   The Packet Length Offset and Expiration Time fields are encoded using
   the Variable Length Integer encoding from Section 16 of [RFC9000].
   Expiration Time is measured in seconds.

   INI, 0RT, HAN, and RET are the codepoints for each long header packet
   type.  If any two packet types have the same codepoint, the transport
   parameter is invalid.

   The Connection ID Length (CID Length) is in bytes.

   Note that servers that support version aliasing need not send the
   transport parameter on every connection.  Therefore, a client MAY
   attempt to connect with an unexpired aliased version, even if in its
   most recent connection it did not receive the transport parameter.

   Clients remember the values in this transport parameter for a future
   connection.  Servers MUST either store the contents of the transport
   parameter, or preserve the state to compute the full contents based
   on the Aliased Version and Connection ID.

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   A server that receives this transport parameter MUST close the
   connection with a TRANSPORT_PARAMETER_ERROR.

   Servers SHOULD provide a new version_aliasing transport parameter
   each time a client connects.  However, issuing version numbers to a
   client SHOULD be rate- limited to mitigate the salt polling
   attackSection 7.7 and MAY cease to clients that are consistently
   connecting with standard versions.

3.1.  Aliased Version

   The version MUST appear to be random, although there are certain
   values that will not be sent.  Specifically, it MUST NOT correspond
   to a QUIC version the server advertises in QUIC Version Negotiation
   packets or transport parameters.  Servers SHOULD also exclude version
   numbers used in known specifications or experiments to avoid
   confusion at clients, whether or not they have plans to support those

   Servers MAY use version numbers reserved for grease in Section 15.1
   of [RFC9000], even though they might be advertised in Version
   Negotiationi Packets.  Some clients may use these version numbers to
   probe for Version Negotiation capability, which would likely result
   in a fallback procedure (see Section 5) instead of a Version
   Negotiation packet.

   Servers MUST NOT use client-controlled information (e.g. the client
   IP address) as in input to generate the version number, see
   Section 7.7.

   Servers MUST NOT advertise these versions in QUIC Version Negotiation

3.2.  Standard Version

   Servers also identify the Standard version that the client uses to
   specify the wire formats and behaviors of the aliased version.  This
   version MUST meet the criteria to support version aliasing, and MUST
   either be included as a supported version in the client's
   version_information transport parameter (see [QUIC-VN]) or be the
   standard version of the current connection.

   Note that servers MUST NOT accept resumption tickets or NEW_TOKEN
   tokens from a certain standard version in a connection using a
   different standard version.  Therefore, the choice of standard
   version might impact the performance of the connection that uses an
   aliased version.  The standard version that generated tickets and/or
   tokens is typically encoded in those tickets or tokens.

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   There are several possible techniques for the server securely
   recovering the standard version in use for an aliased connection:

   *  the server could store a mapping of aliased versions to standard

   *  the server could encrypt the standard version in use in the
      aliased version number and/or connection ID;

   *  the server only accepts one standard version for aliased versions;

   *  the standard version is included as an input to the parameter
      generation algorithm, and the server tries all supported standard
      versions and tests each resulting Packet Length Offset for

3.3.  Server Connection ID

   Servers SHOULD generate a Connection ID to provide additional entropy
   in salt generation.  Two clients that receive the same version number
   but different connection IDs will not be able to decode each other's
   Initial Packets.

   The connection ID MUST appear to be random to observers, but it might
   encode information to route the packet in the server infrastructure,
   or standard version information.

   The connection ID MUST NOT be between 1 and 7 bytes long.  A zero-
   length connection ID signals that the destination connection ID will
   not be an input to the server's process, so the client may choose any
   destination connection ID compliant with the standard version.

3.4.  Salt

   The salt is an opaque 20-octet field.  It is used to generate Initial
   connection keys using the process described in [RFC9001].

   Servers MUST either generate a random salt and store a mapping of
   aliased version and connection ID to salt, or generate the salt using
   a cryptographic method that uses the version number, connection ID,
   and server state that is persistent across connections.  It MUST NOT
   use client controlled information other than the version number and
   connection ID; for example, the client's IP address and port.

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3.5.  Packet Length Offset

   The Packet Length Offset is a 62-bit unsigned integer.  All long
   headers have a packet length field; this value is added to all packet
   lengths, modulo 2^62, to form the value sent on the wire in all long
   headers, sent from either endpoint.

   Aside from greasing the packet length field, this parameter provides
   a low-cost means for the server to determine if the client and server
   share a valid version aliasing context.  For example, if the server
   loses state after sending a version_aliasing transport parameter, the
   derived packet length offset is extremely unlikely to be consistent
   with the size of the UDP datagram.  Due to possible packet
   concatenation, a packet is clearly not decryptable if the packet
   length is larger than the size of the UDP datagram payload.

   To reduce header overhead, servers MAY consistently use a Packet
   Length Offset of zero if and only if it either (1) never sends Retry
   packets, or (2) can guarantee, through the use of persistent storage
   or other means, that it will never lose the cryptographic state
   required to generate the salt before the promised expiration time.
   Section 7.5 describes the implications if it uses zero without
   meeting these conditions.

   Similarly, the server MAY use a smaller Packet Length Offset size
   (e.g., 30 bits) to reduce the size of the packet length offset in
   long headers.  A smaller packet length field increases the chance
   that the packet length will accidentally be valid, requiring trial
   decryption.  As the maximum UDP datagram size is 2^16 bytes, a 62-bit
   packet length offset means that, at worst, only 1 in every 2^46
   packets will be a false positive.

3.6.  Expiration Time

   Servers should select an expiration time in seconds, measured from
   the instant the transport parameter is first sent.  This time SHOULD
   be less than the time until the server expects to support new QUIC
   versions, rotate the keys used to encode information in the version
   number, or rotate the keys used in salt generation.  The expiration
   need not be derivable from the aliased version and connection ID; it
   is a matter of policy.

   Furthermore, the expiration time SHOULD be short enough to frustrate
   a salt polling attack (Section 7.7)

   Conversely, an extremely short expiration time will often force the
   client to use standard QUIC version numbers and salts.

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   The client SHOULD NOT use an aliased version if the time since the
   receipt of the transport parameter exceeds the Expiration Time.
   Attempting to do so is likely to result in a fallback procedure (see
   Section 5).  The server need not enforce this restriction; the
   Expiration Time is purely advisory.

3.7.  Packet Type Codepoints

   The server generates the packet type codepoint for each of the four
   long header packet types (Initial, 0RTT, Handshake, and Retry).  Each
   of these codepoints is two bits.  All long headers from both
   endpoints use these codepoints instead of those provided in the
   standard version specification.

   A straightforward implementation might take arbitrary bits from a
   hash of the version number.  The first two bits it reads are the
   codepoint for Initial packets.  The next pair of bits that is not a
   duplicate of the first is the codepoint for 0RTT packets.  The next
   pair that does not duplicate the first two is the codepoint for
   Handshake packets, and the remaining codepoint is the Retry packet.

3.8.  Operational Considerations for Multiple-Server Architectures

3.8.1.  Multiple Servers for One Domain

   If multiple servers serve the same entity behind a load balancer,
   they MUST NOT generate version numbers that any of them would
   advertise in a Version Negotiation Packet or Transport Parameter.

   Such servers will either need a common configuration for generating
   parameters from the version number and connection ID, maintain a
   commmon database of mappings, or the connection ID itself can be used
   to route the Initial packet to the server that generated the
   transport parameter.  See [QUIC-LB] for an example of the last

3.8.2.  Multiple Entities With One Load Balancer

   If mutually mistrustful entities share the same IP address and port,
   incoming packets are usually routed by examining the SNI at a load
   balancer that routes the traffic.  This use case makes concealing the
   contents of the client Initial especially attractive, as the IP
   address reveals less information, but there is no obvious means for
   the load balancer to inspect a version aliased packet.  There are
   several solutions to solve this problem.

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   *  The RECOMMENDED solution is to use routable connection IDs, so
      that the load balancer can correctly direct the packet without any
      knowledge of its version- dependent syntax.  See [QUIC-LB] for an
      example design.

   *  Each entity has its own cryptographic context, shared with the
      load balancer.  This requires the load balancer to trial decrypt
      each incoming Initial with each context.  As there is no standard
      algorithm for encoding information in the version and connection
      ID, this involves synchronizing the method, not just the key

   *  Each entity reports its Version Aliasing Transport Parameters to
      the load balancer out-of-band.

   *  Each entity is assigned certain version numbers for use.  This
      assignment SHOULD NOT follow observable patterns (e.g., assigning
      ranges to each entity), as this would allow observers to obtain
      the target server based on the version.  The scheme SHOULD assign
      all available version numbers to maximize the entropy of the

   *  All entities have a common crytographic context for deriving salts
      and Packet Length Offsets from the version number and connection
      ID.  This isi straightforward but also increases the risk that the
      keys will leak to an attacker which could then decode Initial
      packets from a point where the packets are observable.  This is
      therefore NOT RECOMMENDED.

   Note that [ECHO] and [QUIC-PI] solve this problem elegantly by only
   holding the private key at the load balancer, which decodes the
   sensitive information on behalf of the back-end server.

4.  Additional Client Requirements

   The Client MUST NOT use the contents of a Version Alias transport
   parameter if the handshake does not (1) later authenticate the server
   name or (2) result in both endpoints computing the same 1-RTT keys.
   See Section 7.1.  The authenticated server name MAY be a "public
   name" distributed as described in [ECHO] rather than the true target

   Clients MUST advertise aliased versions in the chosen version field
   of the version_information Transport Parameter (see [QUIC-VN]).

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   Clients SHOULD NOT use the provided version number and connection ID
   in more than one connection.  Using the same connection ID in two
   connections could confuse the server demultiplexer.  If the client IP
   has changed, reuse of these parameters can link the client across
   connection attempts.

   If a client receives an aliased version number that matches a
   standard version that the client supports, it SHOULD assume the
   server does not support the standard version and MUST use aliased
   version behaviors in any connection with the server using that
   version number.

   If the response to an Initial packet using the provided version is a
   Version Negotiation Packet, the client SHOULD assume that the server
   no longer supports version aliasing and attempt to connect with one
   of the advertised versions (while observing the considerations in
   Section 7.3).

   If the response to an Initial packet is a Bad Salt packet, the client
   follows the procedures in Section 5.

5.  Fallback

   If the server has lost its encryption state, it may not be able to
   generate the correct salts from previously provided versions and
   connection IDs.  The fallback mechanism provides a means of
   recovering from this state while protecting against injection of
   messages by attackers.

   When a server receives a packet with an unsupported version number,
   it SHOULD send a Version Negotiation Packet if it is configured not
   to generate that version number at random.

   If applying the packet length offset to the packet length field
   results in a length longer than the UDP datagram that contains it,
   the packet was not generated with the proper version aliasing

   The server MAY apply further checks (e.g. against the minimum QUIC
   packet length) to further reduce the very small probability of a
   false positive.

   In the extremely unlikely event that the Packet Length Offset
   resulted in a legal value but the salt is incorrect, the packet will
   fail authentication.  Servers MAY also interpret this as a loss of
   version aliasing state.

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   When the packet length computation on the first packet in a
   connection fails, it signals either that the packet has been
   corrupted in transit, or the client is using a transport parameter
   issued before a server failure.  In either case, the server sends a
   Bad Salt packet.  The server ignores failures in subsequent packets
   for that connection.

5.1.  Bad Salt Packets

   The Bad Salt packet has a long header and a reserved version number,
   because it must not be confused with a legitimate packet in any
   standard version.  They are not encrypted, not authenticated, and
   have the following format:

   Bad Salt Packet {
       Header Form (1) = 1,
       Unused (7),
       Version (32) = TBD (provisional value = 0x56415641),
       Destination Connection ID Length (8),
       Destination Connection ID (0..2040),
       Source Connection ID Length (8),
       Source Connection ID (0..2040),
       Supported Version (32) ...,
       Integrity Tag (128),

   Unused: The unused field is filled randomly by the sender and ignored
   on receipt.

   Version: The version field is reserved for use by the Bad Salt

   Destination and Source Connection IDs and Lengths: These fields are
   copied from the client packet, with the source fields from the client
   packet written into the destination fields of the Bad Salt, and vice

   Supported Version: A list of standard QUIC version numbers which the
   server supports.  The number of versions is inferred from the length
   of the datagram.

   Integrity Tag: To compute the integrity tag, the server creates a
   pseudo-packet by contents of the entire client Initial UDP payload,
   including any coalesced packets, with the Bad Salt packet:

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   Bad Salt Pseudo-Packet {
       Client UDP Payload (9600..),
       Header Form (1) = 1,
       Unused (7),
       Version (32) = TBD (provisional value = 0x56415641),
       Destination Connection ID Length (8),
       Destination Connection ID (0..2040),
       Source Connection ID Length (8),
       Source Connection ID (0..2040),
       Supported Version (32) ...,

   In a process similar to the Retry Integrity Tag, the Bad Salt
   Integrity Tag is computed as the output of AEAD_AES_128_GCM with the
   following inputs:

   *  The secret key, K, is 0xbe0c690b9f66575a1d766b54e368c84e.

   *  The nonce, N, is 0x461599d35d632bf2239825bb.

   *  The plaintext, P, is empty.

   *  The associated data, A, is the Bad Salt pseudo-packet.

   These values are derived using HKDF-Expand-Label from the secret
   and labels "quicva key" and "quicva iv".

   The integrity tag serves to validate the integrity of both the Bad
   Salt packet itself and the Initial packet that triggered it.

5.2.  Client Response to Bad Salt

   Upon receipt of a Bad Salt packet, the client SHOULD wait for a Probe
   Timeout (PTO) to check if the Bad Salt packet was injected by an
   attacker, and a valid response arrives from the actual server.

   After waiting, the client checks the Integrity Tag using its record
   of the Initial it sent.  If this fails, the client SHOULD assume
   packet corruption and resend the Initial packet.

   If the verification succeeds, the client SHOULD attempt to connect
   with one of the listed standard versions.  It SHOULD observe the
   privacy considerations in Section 7.2.  It MUST include a
   version_aliasing_fallback Transport Parameter in the Client Hello.

   Once it sends this transport parameter, the client MUST NOT attempt
   to connect with that aliased version again.

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   The original Client Initial is not part of the new connection.
   Therefore, the Connection IDs can change, and the original client
   hello is not part of the transcript for TLS key derivation.

5.3.  version_aliasing_fallback Transport Parameter

   The client sends this transport parameter in a TLS Client Hello
   generated in response to a Bad Salt packet:

    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   |                     Aliased Version (32)                      |
   |   CID length  |           Connection ID (variable)            |
   |                                                               |
   +                                                               +
   |                                                               |
   +                                                               +
   |                            Salt (160)                         |
   +                                                               +
   |                                                               |
   +                                                               +
   |                                                               |
   |                                                               |
   +                                                               +
   |                                                               |
   +                   Bad Salt Integrity Tag (128)                +
   |                                                               |
   +                                                               +
   |                                                               |

   The Aliased Version, Connection ID, and Salt fields are taken from
   the connection attempt that triggered this fallback.

   The Bad Salt Integrity Tag is taken from the Bad Salt packet that
   triggered this fallback.  Its purpose is to include the Bad Salt
   packet contents in the TLS handshake hash.

5.4.  Server Response to version_aliasing_fallback Transport Parameter

   A client version_aliasing_fallback transport parameter tells the
   server that the client received a Bad Salt packet.  The server checks
   if using the version and connection ID as inputs results in the same

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   If the salt does not match, the server SHOULD continue with the
   connection and SHOULD issue a new version_aliasing transport

   If the salt and Packet Length Offset are valid, the server MUST
   terminate the connection with the error code INVALID_BAD_SALT.

   Note that the client never sends this transport parameter in a
   connection that uses an aliased version.  A server that receives such
   a packet MUST terminate the connection with a

6.  Considerations for Retry Packets

   QUIC Retry packets reduce the load on servers during periods of
   stress by forcing the client to prove it possesses the IP address
   before the server decrypts any Initial Packets or establishes any
   connection state.  Version aliasing substantially complicates the

   If a server has to send a Retry packet, the required format is
   ambiguous without understanding which standard version to use.  If
   all supported standard versions use the same Retry format, it simply
   uses that format with the client-provided version number.

   If the supported standard versions use different Retry formats, the
   server obtains the standard version via lookup or decoding and
   formats a Retry containing the aliased version number accordingly.

   Servers generate the Retry Integrity Tag of a Retry Packet using the
   procedure in Section 5.8 of [RFC9001].  However, for aliased
   versions, the secret key K uses the first 16 octets of the aliased
   salt instead of the key provided in the specification.

   Clients MUST ignore Retry packets that contain a QUIC version other
   than the version it used in its Initial Packet.

   Servers MUST NOT reply to a packet with an incorrect Length field in
   its long header with a Retry packet; it SHOULD reply with Bad Salt as
   described above.

7.  Security and Privacy Considerations

   This document intends to improve the existing security and privacy
   properties of QUIC by dramatically improving the secrecy of QUIC
   Initial Packets.  However, there are new attacks against this

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7.1.  Endpoint Impersonation

   An on-path attacker might respond to a standard version Initial
   packet with a Version Aliasing Transport Parameter that then caused
   the client to reveal sensitive information in a subsequent Initial.

   As described in Section 4, clients cannot use the contents of a
   Version Aliasing transport parameter until they have authenticated
   the source as a trusted domain, and have verified that the 1RTT key
   derivation is identical at both endpoints.

7.2.  First-Connection Privacy

   As version aliasing requires one connection over a standard QUIC
   version to acquire initial state, this initial connection leaks some
   information about the true target.

   The client MAY alter its Initial Packet to sanitize sensitive
   information and obtain another aliased version before proceeding with
   its true request.  However, the client Initial must lead to the
   authentication of a domain name the client trusts to provide accurate
   Version Aliasing information (possibly the public_name from an
   Encrypted Client Hello configuration from [ECHO]).  Advice for the
   Outer ClientHello in Section 10.5 of [ECHO] applies here.

   Endpoints are encouraged to instead use [ECHO] or [QUIC-PI] to
   increase privacy on the first connection between a client and server.

7.3.  Forcing Downgrade

   An attacker can attempt to force a client to send an Initial that
   uses a standard version by injecting a Version Negotiation packet
   (which implies the server no longer supports aliasing) or a Bad Salt
   packet (which implies the server has a new cryptographic context).

   The weak form of this attack observes the Initial and injects the
   Version Negotiation or Bad Salt packet, but cannot drop the Initial.
   To counteract this, a client SHOULD NOT respond to these packets
   until they have waited for Probe Timeout (PTO) for a valid server
   Initial to arrive.

   The strong form features an attacker that can drop Initial packets.
   In this case, the client can either abandon the connection attempt or
   connect with an standard version.

   If it connects with a standard version, it should consider the
   privacy advice in Section 7.2.

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   Furthermore, if it received a Bad Salt packet, the client sends a
   Version Aliasing transport parameter to detect the downgrade attack,
   and the server will terminate the connection if the Bad Salt packet
   was an attack.

   If the client received a Version Negotiation packet, it MUST
   implement a downgrade detection mechanism such as [QUIC-VN] or
   abandon the connection attempt.  If it subsequently detects a
   downgrade detection, or discovers that the server does not support
   the same mechanism, it terminates the connection attempt.

7.4.  Initial Packet Injection

   QUIC version 1 handshakes are vulnerable to DoS from observers for
   the short interval that endpoints keep Initial keys (usually ~1.5
   RTTS), since Initial Packets are not authenticated.  With version
   aliasing, attackers do not have the necessary keys to launch such an

7.5.  Retry Injection

   QUIC Version 1 Retry packets are spoofable, as they follow a fixed
   format, are sent in plaintext, and the integrity protection uses a
   widely known key.  As a result, QUIC Version 1 has verification
   mechanisms in subsequent packets of the connection to validate the
   origin of the Retry.

   Version aliasing largely frustrates this attack.  As the integrity
   check key is derived from the secret salt, packets from attackers
   will fail their integrity check and the client will ignore them.

   The Packet Length Offset is important in this framework.  Without
   this mechanism, servers would have to perform trial decryption to
   verify the client was using the correct salt.  As this does not occur
   before sending Retry Packets, servers would not detect disagreement
   on the salt beforehand and would send a Retry packet signed with a
   different salt than the client expects.  Therefore, a client that
   received a Retry packet with an invalid integrity check would not be
   able to distinguish between the following possibilities:

   *  a Retry packet corrupted in the network, which should be ignored;

   *  a Retry packet generated by an attacker, which should be ignored;

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   *  a Retry packet from a server that lost its cryptographic state,
      meaning that further communication with aliased versions is
      impossible and the client should revert to using a standard

   The Packet Length Offset introduces sufficient entropy to make the
   third possibility exceedingly unlikely.

7.6.  Increased Linkability

   As each version number and connection ID is unique to each client, if
   a client uses one twice, those two connections are extremely likely
   to be from the same host.  If the client has changed IP address, this
   is a significant increase in linkability relative to QUIC with a
   standard version numbers.

7.7.  Salt Polling

   Observers that wish to decode Initial Packets might open a large
   number of connections to the server in an effort to obtain part of
   the mapping of version numbers and connection IDs to salts for a
   server.  While storage-intensive, this attack could increase the
   probability that at least some version-aliased connections are
   observable.  There are three mitigations servers can execute against
   this attack:

   *  use a longer connection ID to increase the entropy of the salt,

   *  rate-limit transport parameters sent to a particular client, and/

   *  set a low expiration time to reduce the lifetime of the attacker's

   Segmenting the version number space based on client information, i.e.
   using only a subset of version numbers for a certain IP address
   range, would significantly amplify an attack.  Observers will
   generally be on the path to the client and be able to mimic having an
   identical IP address.  Segmentation in this way would dramatically
   reduce the search space for attackers.  Thus, servers are prohibited
   from using this mechanism.

7.8.  Server Fingerprinting

   The server chooses its own connection ID length.  Therefore, the
   destination server of a version-aliased packet might become clear
   based on the chosen length.

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7.9.  Increased Processing of Garbage UDP Packets

   As QUIC shares the UDP protocol number with other UDP applications,
   in some deployments it may be possible for traffic intended for other
   UDP applications to arrive at a QUIC server endpoint.  When servers
   support a finite set of version numbers, a valid version number field
   is a strong indicator the packet is, in fact, QUIC.  If the version
   number is invalid, a QUIC Version Negotiation is a low-cost response
   that triggers very early in packet processing.

   However, a server that provides version aliasing is prepared to
   accept almost any version number.  As a result, many more
   sufficiently sized UDP payloads with the first bit set to '1' are
   potential QUIC Initial Packets that require computation of a salt and
   Packet Length Offset.

   Note that a nonzero Packet Length Offset will allow the server to
   drop all but approximately 1 in every 2^49 packets, so trial
   decryption is unnecessary.

   While not a more potent attack then simply sending valid Initial
   Packets, servers may have to provision additional resources to
   address this possibility.

7.10.  Increased Retry Overhead

   This document requires two small cryptographic operations to build a
   Retry packet instead of one, placing more load on servers when
   already under load.

7.11.  Request Forgery

   Section 21.4 of [RFC9000] describes the request forgery attack, where
   a QUIC endpoint can cause its peer to deliver packets to a victim
   with specific content.

   Version aliasing allows the server to specify the contents of the
   version field and part of the token field in Initial packets sent by
   the client, potentially increasing the potency of this attack.

8.  IANA Considerations

8.1.  QUIC Version Registry

   This document request that IANA add the following entry to the QUIC
   version registry:

   Value: TBD

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   Status: permanent

   Specification: This document

   Change Controller: IETF

   Contact: QUIC WG

8.2.  QUIC Transport Parameter Registry

   This document requests that IANA add the following entries to the
   QUIC Transport Parameters Registry:

           | Value |       Parameter Name      | Specification |
           |  TBD  |      version_aliasing     | This Document |
           |  TBD  | version_aliasing_fallback | This Document |

                                  Table 1

8.3.  QUIC Transport Error Codes Registry

   This document requests that IANA add the following entry to the QUIC
   Transport Error Codes registry:

   Value: TBD (provisional: 0x4942)


9.  References

9.1.  Normative References

   [QUIC-VN]  Schinazi, D. and E. Rescorla, "Compatible Version
              Negotiation for QUIC", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft,
              draft-ietf-quic-version-negotiation-13, 6 November 2022,

   [RFC9000]  Iyengar, J., Ed. and M. Thomson, Ed., "QUIC: A UDP-Based
              Multiplexed and Secure Transport", RFC 9000,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC9000, May 2021,

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   [RFC9001]  Thomson, M., Ed. and S. Turner, Ed., "Using TLS to Secure
              QUIC", RFC 9001, DOI 10.17487/RFC9001, May 2021,

9.2.  Informative References

   [ECHO]     Rescorla, E., Oku, K., Sullivan, N., and C. A. Wood, "TLS
              Encrypted Client Hello", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft,
              draft-ietf-tls-esni-15, 3 October 2022,

              Duke, M., "QUIC Version 2", Work in Progress, Internet-
              Draft, draft-ietf-quic-v2-07, 6 November 2022,

   [QUIC-LB]  Duke, M., Banks, N., and C. Huitema, "QUIC-LB: Generating
              Routable QUIC Connection IDs", Work in Progress, Internet-
              Draft, draft-ietf-quic-load-balancers-15, 24 October 2022,

   [QUIC-PI]  Duke, M. and D. Schinazi, "Protected QUIC Initial
              Packets", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-duke-
              quic-protected-initial-04, 27 April 2022,

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,

   [RFC8446]  Rescorla, E., "The Transport Layer Security (TLS) Protocol
              Version 1.3", RFC 8446, DOI 10.17487/RFC8446, August 2018,

Appendix A.  Acknowledgments

   Marten Seemann was the original creator of the version aliasing

Appendix B.  Change Log

      *RFC Editor's Note:* Please remove this section prior to
      publication of a final version of this document.

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B.1.  since draft-duke-quic-version-aliasing-08

   *  Replaced Initial Token Extension with Server connection ID

B.2.  since draft-duke-quic-version-aliasing-07

   *  Added the Bad Salt Integrity Tag to the transport parameter

   *  Greased packet types

   *  Allowed the server to specify the standard version to connect with

B.3.  since draft-duke-quic-version-aliasing-05

   *  Revised security considerations

   *  Discussed multiple SNIs behind one load balancer

   *  Removed VN from the fallback mechanism

B.4.  since draft-duke-quic-version-aliasing-04

   *  Relationship with Encrypted Client Hello (ECH) and QUIC Protected

   *  Corrected statement about version negotiation

B.5.  since draft-duke-quic-version-aliasing-03

   *  Discussed request forgery attacks

B.6.  since draft-duke-quic-version-aliasing-02

   *  Specified 0RTT status of the transport parameter

B.7.  since draft-duke-quic-version-aliasing-01

   *  Fixed all references to "seed" where I meant "salt."

   *  Added the Packet Length Offset, which eliminates Retry Injection

B.8.  since draft-duke-quic-version-aliasing-00

   *  Added "Initial Token Extensions" to increase salt entropy and make
      salt polling attacks impractical.

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   *  Allowed servers to store a mapping of version number and ITE to
      salt instead.

   *  Made standard version encoding mandatory.  This dramatically
      simplifies the new Retry logic and changes the security model.

   *  Added references to Version Negotiation Transport Parameters.

   *  Extensive readability edit.

Author's Address

   Martin Duke

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