Opportunistic Security: some protection most of the time
draft-dukhovni-opportunistic-security-01

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Network Working Group                                        V. Dukhovni
Internet-Draft                                                 Two Sigma
Intended status: Informational                              July 6, 2014
Expires: January 7, 2015

        Opportunistic Security: some protection most of the time
                draft-dukhovni-opportunistic-security-01

Abstract

   This memo defines the term "opportunistic security".  In contrast to
   the established approach of delivering strong protection some of the
   time, opportunistic security strives to deliver at least some
   protection most of the time.  The primary goal is therefore broad
   interoperability, with security policy tailored to the capabilities
   of peer systems.

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
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   This Internet-Draft will expire on January 7, 2015.

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   Copyright (c) 2014 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
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   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Opportunistic Security Design Philosophy  . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   4.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   5.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   6.  References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6

1.  Introduction

   Historically, Internet security protocols have prioritized strong
   protection for peers capable and motivated to absorb the associated
   costs.  Since strong protection is not universally applicable, while
   communications traffic was sometimes strongly secured, more typically
   it was not protected at all.  The fact that most traffic is
   unprotected facilitates nation-state pervasive monitoring (PM
   [RFC7258]) by making it cost-effective (or at least not cost-
   prohibitive).  Indiscriminate collection of communications traffic
   would be substantially less attractive if security protocols were
   designed to operate at a range of protection levels with encrypted
   transmission accessible to most if not all peers, and stronger
   security still available where required by policy or
   opportunistically negotiated.

   Encryption is easy, but key management is difficult.  Key management
   at Internet scale remains an incompletely solved problem.  The PKIX
   ([RFC5280]) key management model introduces costs that not all peers
   are willing to bear and is also not sufficient to secure
   communications when the peer reference identity is obtained
   indirectly over an insecure channel or communicating parties don't
   agree on a mutually trusted certification authority (CA).  DNSSEC is
   not at this time sufficiently widely adopted to make DANE a viable
   alternative at scale.  Trust on first use (TOFU) key management
   models (as with saved SSH fingerprints and various certificate
   pinning approaches) don't protect initial contact and require user
   intervention when key continuity fails.

   Without Internet-scale key management, authentication is often not
   possible.  When protocols only offer the options of strongly-
   authenticated secure channels or else no security, most traffic gets
   no security protection.  Therefore, in order to make encryption more
   ubiquitous, authentication needs to be optional.  When strongly
   authenticated communication is not possible, unauthenticated
   encryption is still substantially stronger than cleartext.
   Opportunistic security encourages peers to employ as much security as
   possible, without falling back to unnecessarily weak options.  In

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