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Design Considerations for Protocol Extensions

The information below is for an old version of the document that is already published as an RFC.
Document Type
This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 6709.
Authors Brian E. Carpenter , Dr. Bernard D. Aboba , Stuart Cheshire
Last updated 2013-02-12 (Latest revision 2012-06-27)
RFC stream Internet Architecture Board (IAB)
Intended RFC status (None)
Stream IAB state Published RFC
Consensus boilerplate Unknown
IAB shepherd (None)
Internet Architecture Board                                 B. Carpenter
Internet-Draft                                             B. Aboba (ed)
Intended Status: Informational                               S. Cheshire
Expires: December 26, 2012                                  26 June 2012

             Design Considerations for Protocol Extensions


   This document discusses architectural issues related to the
   extensibility of Internet protocols, with a focus on design
   considerations.  It is intended to assist designers of both base
   protocols and extensions.  Case studies are included.  A companion
   document, RFC 4775/BCP 125, discusses procedures relating to the
   extensibility of IETF protocols.

Status of this Memo

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

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups.  Note that
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   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
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   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

   The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at

   This Internet-Draft will expire on December 26, 2012.

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Table of Contents

1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
  1.1   Requirements Language  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
2.  Routine and Major Extensions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
  2.1   What Constitutes a Major Extension?  . . . . . . . . . . .  5
  2.2   When is an Extension Routine?  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
3.  Architectural Principles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
  3.1   Limited Extensibility  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
  3.2   Design for Global Interoperability . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
  3.3   Architectural Compatibility  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
  3.4   Protocol Variations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
  3.5   Testability  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
  3.6   Parameter Parameter Registration . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
  3.7   Extensions to Critical Protocols . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
4.  Considerations for the Base Protocol . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
  4.1   Version Numbers  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
  4.2   Reserved Fields  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
  4.3   Encoding Formats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
  4.4   Parameter Space Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
  4.5   Cryptographic Agility  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
  4.6   Transport  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
  4.7   Handling of Unknown Extensions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
5.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
6.  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
7.  References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
  7.1   Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
  7.2   Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Acknowledgments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
IAB Members . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Appendix A - Examples  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
  A.1   Already documented cases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
  A.2   RADIUS Extensions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
  A.3   TLS Extensions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
  A.4   L2TP Extensions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Change log . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

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1.  Introduction

   When developing protocols, IETF Working Groups (WGs) often include
   mechanisms whereby these protocols can be extended in the future.  It
   is often a good principle to design extensibility into protocols; as
   described in "What Makes for a Successful Protocol" [RFC5218], a
   "wildly successful" protocol is one that becomes widely used in ways
   not originally anticipated.  Well-designed extensibility mechanisms
   facilitate the evolution of protocols and help make it easier to roll
   out incremental changes in an interoperable fashion.  However, at the
   same time experience has shown that extensions carry the risk of
   unintended consequences, such as interoperability issues, operational
   problems or security vulnerabilities.

   The proliferation of extensions, even well designed ones, can be
   costly.  As noted in "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol" [RFC5321]
   Section 2.2.1:

      Experience with many protocols has shown that protocols with few
      options tend towards ubiquity, whereas protocols with many options
      tend towards obscurity.

      Each and every extension, regardless of its benefits, must be
      carefully scrutinized with respect to its implementation,
      deployment, and interoperability costs.

   This is hardly a recent concern.  "TCP Extensions Considered Harmful"
   [RFC1263] was published in 1991.  "Extend" or "extension" occurs in
   the title of more than 400 existing Request For Comment (RFC)
   documents.  Yet generic extension considerations have not been
   documented previously.

   The purpose of this document is to describe the architectural
   principles of sound extensibility design, in order to minimize such
   risks.   Formal procedures for extending IETF protocols are discussed
   in "Procedures for Protocol Extensions and Variations" BCP 125

   The rest of this document is organized as follows: Section 2
   discusses routine and major extensions.  Section 3 describes
   architectural principles for protocol extensibility.  Section 4
   explains how designers of base protocols can take steps to anticipate
   and facilitate the creation of such subsequent extensions in a safe
   and reliable manner.

   Readers are advised to study the whole document, since the
   considerations are closely linked.

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1.1.  Requirements Language

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14, RFC 2119

2.  Routine and Major Extensions

   The risk of unintended consequences from an extension is especially
   high if the extension is performed by a different team than the
   original designers, who may stray outside implicit design constraints
   or assumptions.  As a result, it is highly desirable for the original
   designers to articulate the design constraints and assumptions, so as
   to enable extensions to be done carefully and with a full
   understanding of the base protocol, existing implementations, and
   current operational practice.

   To assist extension designers and reviewers, protocol documents
   should provide guidelines explaining how extensions should be
   performed, and guidance on the appropriate use of protocol extension
   mechanisms should be developed.

   Protocol components that are designed with the specific intention of
   allowing extensibility should be clearly identified, with specific
   and complete instructions on how to extend them.  This includes the
   process for adequate review of extension proposals: do they need
   community review and if so how much and by whom?

   The level of review required for protocol extensions will typically
   vary based on the nature of the extension.  Routine extensions may
   require minimal review, while major extensions may require wide
   review.  Guidance on which extensions may be considered 'routine' and
   which ones are 'major' are provided in the sections that follow.

2.1.  What Constitutes a Major Extension?

   Major extensions may have characteristics leading to a risk of
   interoperability failures, security vulnerabilities or operational
   problems.  Where these characteristics are present, it is necessary
   to pay close attention to backward compatibility with implementations
   and deployments of the unextended protocol, and to the potential for
   inadvertent introduction of security or operational exposures.

   Extension designers should examine their design for the following

   1.  Modifications or extensions to the underlying protocol.  An

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   extension document should be considered to update the underlying
   protocol specification if an implementation of the underlying
   protocol would need to be updated to accommodate the extension.  This
   should not be necessary if the underlying protocol was designed with
   a modular interface.  Examples of extensions modifying the underlying
   protocol include specification of additional transports (see Section
   4.6), changing protocol semantics or defining new message types that
   may require implementation changes in existing and deployed
   implementations of the protocol, even if they do not want to make use
   of the new functions.  A base protocol that does not uniformly permit
   "silent discard" of unknown extensions may automatically enter this
   category, even for apparently minor extensions.  Handling of
   "unknown" extensions is discussed in more detail in Section 4.7.

   2.  Changes to the basic architectural assumptions.  This may include
   architectural assumptions that are explicitly stated or those that
   have been assumed by implementers.  For example, this would include
   adding a requirement for session state to a previously stateless

   3.  New usage scenarios not originally intended or investigated.
   This can potentially lead to operational difficulties when deployed,
   even in cases where the "on-the-wire" format has not changed.  For
   example, the level of traffic carried by the protocol may increase
   substantially, packet sizes may increase, and implementation
   algorithms that are widely deployed may not scale sufficiently or
   otherwise be up to the new task at hand.  For example, a new DNS
   Resource Record (RR) type that is too big to fit into a single UDP
   packet could cause interoperability problems with existing DNS
   clients and servers.  Similarly, the additional traffic that results
   from an extension to a routing protocol could have a detrimental
   impact on the performance or stability of implementations that do not
   implement the extension.

   4. Changes to the extension model.  Adverse impacts are very likely
   if the base protocol contains an extension mechanism and the proposed
   extension does not fit into the model used to create and define that
   mechanism.  Extensions that have the same properties as those that
   were anticipated when an extension mechanism was devised are much
   less likely to be disruptive than extensions that don't fit the
   model.  Also, changes to the extension model itself (including
   changes limiting further extensibility) can create interoperability

   5. Changes to protocol syntax.  Changes to protocol syntax bring with
   them the potential for backward compatibility issues.  If at all
   possible, extensions should be designed for compatibility with
   existing syntax, so as to avoid interoperability failures.

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   6. Interrelated extensions to multiple protocols.  A set of
   interrelated extensions to multiple protocols typically carries a
   greater danger of interoperability issues or incompatibilities than a
   simple extension.  Consequently, it is important that such proposals
   receive earlier and more in-depth review than unitary extensions.

   7. Changes to the security model.  Changes to the protocol security
   model (or even addition of new security mechanisms within an existing
   framework) can introduce security vulnerabilities or adversely impact
   operations.  Consequently, it is important that such proposals
   undergo security as well as operational review.  Security
   considerations are discussed in Section 5.

   8. Performance impact.  An extension that impacts performance can
   have adverse consequences, particularly if the performance of
   existing deployments is affected.

2.2.  When is an Extension Routine?

   An extension may be considered 'routine' if it does not meet the
   criteria for being considered a 'major' extension and if its handling
   is opaque to the protocol itself (e.g. does not substantially change
   the pattern of messages and responses).  For this to apply, no
   changes to the base protocol can be required, nor can changes be
   required to existing and currently deployed implementations, unless
   they make use of the extension.  Furthermore, existing
   implementations should not be impacted.  This typically requires that
   implementations be able to ignore 'routine' extensions without ill-

   Examples of routine extensions include the Dynamic Host Configuration
   Protocol (DHCP) vendor-specific option [RFC2132], Remote
   Authentication Dial In User Service (RADIUS) Vendor-Specific
   Attributes [RFC2865], the enterprise Object IDentifier (OID) tree for
   Management Information Base (MIB) modules and vendor Multipurpose
   Internet Mail Extension (MIME) types.  Such extensions can safely be
   made with minimal discussion.

   Processes that allow routine extensions with minimal or no review
   (such as the "First Come First Served" (FCFS) allocation policy
   described in "Guidelines for Writing an IANA Considerations Section
   in RFCs" [RFC5226]) should be used sparingly.  In particular, they
   should be limited to cases that are unlikely to result in
   interoperability problems, or security or operational exposures.

   Experience has shown that even routine extensions may benefit from
   review by experts.  For example, even though DHCP carries opaque
   data, defining a new option using completely unstructured data may

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   lead to an option that is unnecessarily hard for clients and servers
   to process.

3.  Architectural Principles

   This section describes basic principles of protocol extensibility:

   1. Extensibility features should be limited to what is reasonably
   anticipated when the protocol is developed.

   2. Protocol extensions should be designed for global

   3. Protocol extensions should be architecturally compatible with the
   base protocol.

   4. Protocol extension mechanisms should not be used to create
   incompatible protocol variations.

   5. Extension mechanisms need to be testable.

   6. Protocol parameter assignments need to be coordinated to avoid
   potential conflicts.

   7. Extensions to critical components require special care.  A
   critical component is one whose failure can lead to Internet-wide
   reliability and security issues or performance degradation.

3.1.  Limited Extensibility

   Protocols should not be made more extensible than clearly necessary
   at inception, in order to enable optimization along dimensions (e.g.,
   bandwidth, state, memory requirements, deployment time, latency,
   etc.) important to the most common use cases.

   The process for defining new extensibility mechanisms should ensure
   that adequate review of proposed extensions will take place before
   widespread adoption.

   As noted in "What Makes for a Successful Protocol" [RFC5218], "wildly
   successful" protocols far exceed their original goals, in terms of
   scale, purpose (being used in scenarios far beyond the initial
   design), or both.  This implies that all potential uses may not be
   known at inception.  As a result, extensibility mechanisms may need
   to be revisited as additional use cases reveal themselves.  However,
   this does not imply that an initial design needs to take all
   potential needs into account at inception.

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3.2.  Design for Global Interoperability

   As noted in [RFC4775] Section 3.1:

      According to its Mission Statement [RFC3935], the IETF produces
      high quality, relevant technical and engineering documents,
      including protocol standards.  The mission statement goes on to
      say that the benefit of these standards to the Internet "is in
      interoperability - that multiple products implementing a standard
      are able to work together in order to deliver valuable functions
      to the Internet's users".

      One consequence of this mission is that the IETF designs protocols
      for the single Internet.  The IETF expects its protocols to work
      the same everywhere.  Protocol extensions designed for limited
      environments may be reasonable provided that products with these
      extensions interoperate with products without the extensions.
      Extensions that break interoperability are unacceptable when
      products with and without the extension are mixed.  It is the
      IETF's experience that this tends to happen on the Internet even
      when the original designers of the extension did not expect this
      to happen.

      Another consequence of this definition of interoperability is that
      the IETF values the ability to exchange one product implementing a
      protocol with another.  The IETF often specifies mandatory-to-
      implement functionality as part of its protocols so that there is
      a core set of functionality sufficient for interoperability that
      all products implement.  The IETF tries to avoid situations where
      protocols need to be profiled to specify which optional features
      are required for a given environment, because doing so harms
      interoperability on the Internet as a whole.

   Since the global Internet is more than a collection of incompatible
   protocols (or "profiles") for use in separate private networks,
   implementers supporting extensions in shipping products or multi-site
   experimental usage must assume that systems will need to interoperate
   on the global Internet.

   A key requirement for interoperable extension design is that the base
   protocol must be well designed for interoperability, and that
   extensions must have unambiguous semantics.  Ideally, the protocol
   mechanisms for extension and versioning should be sufficiently well
   described that compatibility can be assessed on paper.  Otherwise,
   when two "private" or "experimental" extensions encounter each other
   on a public network, unexpected interoperability problems may occur.
   However, as noted in the TLS case study (see Appendix A.3), it is not
   sufficient to design extensibility carefully; it also must be

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   implemented carefully.

3.2.1.  Private Extensions

   Experience shows that separate private networks often end up using
   equipment from the same vendors, or end up having portable equipment
   like laptop computers move between them, and networks that were
   originally envisaged as being separate can end up being connected

   Consider a "private" extension installed on a work computer which,
   being portable, is sometimes connected to a home network or a hotel
   network.  If the "private" extension is incompatible with an
   unextended version of the same protocol, problems will occur.

   Similarly, problems can occur if "private" extensions conflict with
   each other.  For example, imagine the situation where one site chose
   to use DHCP [RFC2132] option code 62 for one meaning, and a different
   site chose to use DHCP option code 62 for a completely different,
   incompatible, meaning. It may be impossible for a vendor of portable
   computing devices to make a device that works correctly in both

   One approach to solving this problem has been to reserve parts of an
   identifier namespace for "limited applicability" or "site-specific"
   use, such as "X-" headers in email messages [RFC822] or "P-" headers
   in SIP [RFC3427].  However, as noted in "Deprecating the X- Prefix
   and Similar Constructs in Application Protocols" Appendix B

      The primary problem with the "X-" convention is that
      unstandardized parameters have a tendency to leak into the
      protected space of standardized parameters, thus introducing the
      need for migration from the "X-" name to a standardized name.
      Migration, in turn, introduces interoperability issues (and
      sometimes security issues) because older implementations will
      support only the "X-" name and newer implementations might support
      only the standardized name.  To preserve interoperability, newer
      implementations simply support the "X-" name forever, which means
      that the unstandardized name has become a de facto standard (thus
      obviating the need for segregation of the name space into
      standardized and unstandardized areas in the first place).

   As a result, the notion of "X-" headers was removed from the Internet
   Message Format standard when it was updated in 2001 [RFC2822] and
   within SIP, [RFC5727] Section 4 deprecated the guidance provided in
   [RFC3427] on the creation of "P-" headers.  More generally, as noted
   in [RFC6648] Section 1:

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      This document generalizes from the experience of the email and SIP
      communities by doing the following:

      1. Deprecates the "X-" convention for newly-defined parameters in
      application protocols, even where that convention was only
      implicit instead of being codified in a protocol specification (as
      was done for email in [RFC822]).

3.2.2.  Local Use

   Values designated as "experimental" or "local use" are only
   appropriate for use in a limited set of circumstances such as for use
   in early implementations of an extension restricted to a single site.

   For example, "Experimental Values in IPv4, IPv6, ICMPv4, ICMPv6, UDP
   and TCP Headers" [RFC4727] discusses experimental values for IP and
   transport headers, and "Definition of the Differentiated Services
   Field (DS Field) in the IPv4 and IPv6 Headers" [RFC2474] defines
   experimental/local use ranges for differentiated services code

   Such values should be used with care and only for their stated
   purpose: experiments and local use.  They are unsuitable for
   Internet-wide use, since they may be used for conflicting purposes
   and thereby cause interoperability failures.  Packets containing
   experimental or local use values must not be allowed out of the
   domain in which they are meaningful.

   "Assigning Experimental and Testing Numbers Considered Useful" BCP 82
   [RFC3692] Section 1 provides guidance on the use of experimental code

      Numbers in the experimentation range ... are not intended to be
      used in general deployments or be enabled by default in products
      or other general releases.  In those cases where a product or
      release makes use of an experimental number, the end user must be
      required to explicitly enable the experimental feature and
      likewise have the ability to chose and assign which number from
      the experimental range will be used for a specific purpose (i.e.,
      so the end user can ensure that use of a particular number doesn't
      conflict with other on-going uses).  Shipping a product with a
      specific value pre-enabled would be inappropriate and can lead to
      interoperability problems when the chosen value collides with a
      different usage, as it someday surely will.

      From the above, it follows that it would be inappropriate for a
      group of vendors, a consortia, or another Standards Development
      Organization to agree among themselves to use a particular value

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      for a specific purpose and then agree to deploy devices using
      those values.  By definition, experimental numbers are not
      guaranteed to be unique in any environment other than one where
      the local system administrator has chosen to use a particular
      number for a particular purpose and can ensure that a particular
      value is not already in use for some other purpose.

      Once an extension has been tested and shown to be useful, a
      permanent number could be obtained through the normal assignment

   However, as noted in [RFC6648] Appendix B, assigning a parameter
   block for experimental use is only necessary when the parameter pool
   is limited:

      "Assigning Experimental and Testing Numbers Considered Useful" ...
      implies that the "X-" prefix is also useful for experimental
      parameters.  However, BCP 82 addresses the need for protocol
      numbers when the pool of such numbers is strictly limited (e.g.,
      DHCP options) or when a number is absolutely required even for
      purely experimental purposes (e.g., the Protocol field of the IP
      header).  In almost all application protocols that make use of
      protocol parameters (including email headers, media types, HTTP
      headers, vCard parameters and properties, URNs, and LDAP field
      names), the name space is not limited or constrained in any way,
      so there is no need to assign a block of names for private use or
      experimental purposes ...

      Therefore it appears that segregating the parameter space into a
      standardized area and a unstandardized area has few if any
      benefits, and has at least one significant cost in terms of

3.2.3.  Multi-site Experiments

   Where an experiment is undertaken among a diverse set of experimental
   sites connected via the global Internet, the use of "experimental" or
   "local use" code points is inadvisable.  This might include, for
   example,  sites that take a prototype implementation of some protocol
   and use that both within their site but, importantly, among the full
   set of other sites interested in that protocol.  In such a situation
   it is impractical and probably impossible to coordinate the de-
   confliction of "experimental" code points.  As noted in [RFC5226]
   Section 4.1:

      For private or local use ... No attempt is made to prevent
      multiple sites from using the same value in different (and
      incompatible) ways ...  assignments are not generally useful for

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      broad interoperability.  It is the responsibility of the sites
      making use of the Private Use range to ensure that no conflicts
      occur (within the intended scope of use).

   HIP and LISP are examples where a set of experimental sites are
   collaborating among themselves, but not necessarily in a tightly
   coordinated way.  Both HIP and LISP have dealt with this by having
   unique non-experimental code points allocated to HIP and LISP,
   respectively, at time of publication of their respective Experimental

3.3.  Architectural Compatibility

   Since protocol extension mechanisms may impact interoperability, it
   is important that they be architecturally compatible with the base

   This includes understanding what current implementations do and how a
   proposed extension will interact with deployed systems.  Is it clear
   when a proposed extension (or its proposed usage) will operationally
   stress existing implementations or the underlying protocol itself if
   widely deployed?  If this is not explained in the base protocol
   specification, is this covered in an extension design guidelines

   As part of the definition of new extension mechanisms, it is
   important to address whether the mechanisms make use of features as
   envisaged by the original protocol designers, or whether a new
   extension mechanism is being invented.  If a new extension mechanism
   is being invented, then architectural compatibility issues need to be

   To assist in the assessment of architectural compatibility, protocol
   documents should provide guidelines explaining how extensions should
   be performed, and guidance on the appropriate use of protocol
   extension mechanisms should be developed.

   Protocol components that are designed with the specific intention of
   allowing extensibility should be clearly identified, with specific
   and complete instructions on how to extend them.  This includes the
   process for adequate review of extension proposals: do they need
   community review and if so how much and by whom?

   Documents relying on extension mechanisms need to explicitly identify
   the mechanisms being relied upon.  For example, a document defining
   new data elements should not implicitly define new data types or
   protocol operations without explicitly describing those dependencies
   and discussing their impact.  Where extension guidelines are

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   available, mechanisms need to indicate whether they are compliant
   with those guidelines and if not, why not.

   Examples of extension guidelines documents include:

   1. "Guidelines for Extending the Extensible Provisioning Protocol
   (EPP)" [RFC3735], which provides guidelines for use of EPP's
   extension mechanisms to define new features and object management

   2. "Guidelines for Authors and Reviewers of MIB Documents" BCP 111
   [RFC4181], which provides guidance to protocol designers creating new
   MIB modules.

   3. "Guidelines for Authors of Extensions to the Session Initiation
   Protocol (SIP)" [RFC4485], which outlines guidelines for authors of
   SIP extensions.

   4. "Considerations for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)
   Extensions" BCP 118 [RFC4521], which discusses considerations for
   designers of LDAP extensions.

   5. "RADIUS Design Guidelines" BCP 158 [RFC6158], which provides
   guidelines for the design of attributes used by the Remote
   Authentication Dial In User Service (RADIUS) protocol.

3.4.  Protocol Variations

   Protocol variations - specifications that look very similar to the
   original but don't interoperate with each other or with the original
   - are even more harmful to interoperability than extensions. In
   general, such variations should be avoided.  Causes of protocol
   variations include incompatible protocol extensions, uncoordinated
   protocol development, and poorly designed "profiles".

   Designing a protocol for extensibility may have the perverse side
   effect of making it easy to construct incompatible extensions.
   Protocol extension mechanisms should not be used to create
   incompatible forks in development.  An extension may lead to
   interoperability failures unless the extended protocol correctly
   supports all mandatory and optional features of the unextended base
   protocol, and implementations of the base protocol operate correctly
   in the presence of the extensions.  In addition, it is necessary for
   an extension to interoperate with other extensions.

   As noted in "Uncoordinated Protocol Development Considered Harmful"
   [RFC5704] Section 1, incompatible forks in development can result
   from the uncoordinated adaptation of a protocol, parameter or code-

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      In particular, the IAB considers it an essential principle of the
      protocol development process that only one SDO maintains design
      authority for a given protocol, with that SDO having ultimate
      authority over the allocation of protocol parameter code-points
      and over defining the intended semantics, interpretation, and
      actions associated with those code-points.

   Note that problems can occur even when one SDO maintains design
   authority, if protocol parameter code-points are reused.  As an
   example, both RFC 5421 [RFC5421] and RFC 5422 [RFC5422] reused
   previously assigned EAP type codes.  As described in the IESG note in

      The reuse of previously assigned EAP Type Codes is incompatible
      with EAP method negotiation as defined in RFC 3748.

3.4.1.  Profiles

   Profiling is a common technique for improving interoperability within
   a target environment or set of scenarios.  Generally speaking, there
   are two approaches to profiling:

   a) Removal or downgrading of normative requirements (thereby creating
   potential interoperability problems);

   b) Elevation of normative requirement levels (such as from a
   MAY/SHOULD to a MUST).  This can be done in order to improve
   interoperability by narrowing potential implementation choices (such
   as when the underlying protocol is ill-defined enough to permit non-
   interoperable yet compliant implementations), or to meet specific
   operational requirements (such as enabling use of stronger
   cryptographic mechanisms than those mandated in the specification).

   While approach a) is potentially harmful, approach b) may be

   In order to avoid creating interoperability problems when profiled
   implementations interact with others over the Global Internet,
   profilers need to remain cognizant of the implications of removing
   normative requirements.  As noted in "Key words for use in RFCs to
   Indicate Requirement Levels" [RFC2119] Section 6, imperatives are to
   be used with care, and as a result, their removal within a profile is
   likely to result in serious consequences:

      Imperatives of the type defined in this memo must be used with
      care and sparingly.  In particular, they MUST only be used where

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      it is actually required for interoperation or to limit behavior
      which has potential for causing harm (e.g., limiting
      retransmissions)  For example, they must not be used to try to
      impose a particular method on implementors where the method is not
      required for interoperability.

   As noted in [RFC2119] Sections 3 and 4, recommendations cannot be
   removed from profiles without serious consideration:

      there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to
      ignore a particular item, but the full implications must be
      understood and carefully weighed before choosing a different

   Even the removal of optional features and requirements can have
   consequences.  As noted in [RFC2119] Section 5, implementations which
   do not support optional features still retain the obligation to
   ensure interoperation with implementations that do:

      An implementation which does not include a particular option MUST
      be prepared to interoperate with another implementation which does
      include the option, though perhaps with reduced functionality. In
      the same vein an implementation which does include a particular
      option MUST be prepared to interoperate with another
      implementation which does not include the option (except, of
      course, for the feature the option provides.)

3.5.  Testability

   Experience has shown that it is insufficient merely to correctly
   specify extensibility and backwards compatibility in an RFC.  It is
   also important that implementations respect the compatibility
   mechanisms; if not, non-interoperable pairs of implementations may
   arise.  The TLS case study (Appendix A.3) shows how important this
   can be.

   In order to determine whether protocol extension mechanisms have been
   properly implemented, testing is required.  However, for this to be
   possible, test cases need to be developed.  If a base protocol
   document specifies extension mechanisms but does not utilize them or
   provide examples, it may not be possible to develop effective test
   cases based on the base protocol specification alone.  As a result,
   base protocol implementations may not be properly tested and non-
   compliant extension behavior may not be detected until these
   implementations are widely deployed.

   To encourage correct implementation of extension mechanisms, base
   protocol specifications should clearly articulate the expected

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   behavior of extension mechanisms and should include examples of
   correct extension behavior.

3.6.  Protocol Parameter Registration

   As noted in [RFC4775] Section 3.2:

      An extension is often likely to make use of additional values
      added to an existing IANA registry ...  It is essential that such
      new values are properly registered by the applicable procedures,
      including expert review where applicable ...  Extensions may even
      need to create new IANA registries in some cases.

      Experience shows that the importance of this is often
      underestimated during extension design; designers sometimes assume
      that a new codepoint is theirs for the asking, or even simply for
      the taking.

   Before creating a new protocol parameter registry, existing
   registries should be examined to determine whether one of them can be
   used instead (see

   To avoid conflicting usage of the same registry value, as well as to
   prevent potential difficulties in determining and transferring
   parameter ownership, it is essential that all new values are
   registered.  If this is not done, there is nothing to prevent two
   different extensions picking the same value.  When these two
   extensions "meet" each other on the Internet, failure is inevitable.

   A surprisingly common case of this is misappropriation of assigned
   Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) (or User Datagram Protocol (UDP))
   registered port numbers.  This can lead to a client for one service
   attempting to communicate with a server for another service.  Another
   common case is the use of unregistered URI schemes.  Numerous cases
   could be cited, but not without embarrassing specific implementers.
   For general rules see [RFC5226], and for specific rules and
   registries see the individual protocol specification RFCs and the
   IANA web site.

   While in theory a "standards track" or "IETF consensus" parameter
   allocation policy may be instituted to encourage protocol parameter
   registration or to improve interoperability, in practice problems can
   arise if the procedures result in so much delay that requesters give
   up and "self-allocate" by picking presumably-unused code points.
   Where self-allocation is prevalent, the information contained within
   registries may become inaccurate, particularly when third parties are
   prohibited from updating entries so as to improve accuracy.  In these
   situations, it is important to consider whether registration

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   processes need to be changed to support the role of a registry as
   "documentation of how the Internet is operating".

3.7.  Extensions to Critical Protocols

   Some protocols (such as Domain Name Service (DNS), Border Gateway
   Protocol (BGP), Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)) or algorithms
   (such as congestion control) have become critical components of the
   Internet infrastructure.  A critical component is one whose failure
   can lead to Internet-wide reliability and security issues or
   performance degradation.  When such protocols or algorithms are
   extended, the potential exists for negatively impacting the
   reliability and security of the global Internet.

   As a result, special care needs to be taken with these extensions,
   such as taking explicit steps to isolate existing uses from new ones.
   For example, this can be accomplished by requiring the extension to
   utilize a different port or multicast address, or by implementing the
   extension within a separate process, without access to the data and
   control structures of the base protocol.

   Experience has shown that even when a mechanism has proven benign in
   other uses, unforeseen issues may result when adding it to a critical
   protocol.  For example, both ISIS and OSPF support opaque Link State
   Attributes (LSAs) which are propagated by intermediate nodes that
   don't understand the LSA.  Within Interior Gateway Protocols (IGPs),
   support for opaque LSAs has proven useful without introducing

   However, within BGP, 'attribute tunneling' has resulted in large
   scale routing instabilities, since remote nodes may reset the LOCAL
   session if the tunneled attributes are malformed or aren't
   understood.  This has required modification to BGP error handling, as
   noted in "Error Handling for Optional Transitive Attribute BGP
   Attributes" [I-D.ietf-idr-error-handling].

   In general, when extending protocols with local failure conditions,
   tunneling of attributes that may trigger failures in non-adjacent
   nodes should be avoided.  This is particularly problematic when the
   originating node receives no indicators of remote failures it may
   have triggered.

4.  Considerations for the Base Protocol

   Good extension design depends on a well-designed base protocol.  To
   promote interoperability, designers should:

   1.  Ensure a well-written base protocol specification.  Does the base

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   protocol specification make clear what an implementer needs to
   support and does it define the impact that individual operations
   (e.g., a message sent to a peer) will have when invoked?

   2.  Design for backward compatibility.  Does the base protocol
   specification describe how to determine the capabilities of a peer,
   and negotiate the use of extensions?  Does it indicate how
   implementations handle extensions that they do not understand?  Is it
   possible for an extended implementation to negotiate with an
   unextended peer to find a common subset of useful functions?

   3.  Respect underlying architectural or security assumptions.  Is
   there a document describing the underlying architectural assumptions,
   as well as considerations that have arisen in operational experience?
   Or are there undocumented considerations that have arisen as the
   result of operational experience, after the original protocol was

   For example, will backward compatibility issues arise if extensions
   reverse the flow of data, allow formerly static parameters to be
   changed on the fly, or change assumptions relating to the frequency
   of reads/writes?

   4. Minimize impact on critical infrastructure.  For a protocol that
   represents a critical element of Internet infrastructure, it is
   important to explain when it is appropriate to isolate new uses of
   the protocol from existing ones.

   For example, is it explained when a proposed extension (or usage) has
   the potential for negatively impacting critical infrastructure to the
   point where explicit steps would be appropriate to isolate existing
   uses from new ones?

   5. Provide guidance on data model extensions.  Is there a document
   that explains when a protocol extension is routine and when it
   represents a major change?

   For example, is it clear when a data model extension represents a
   major versus a routine change?  Are there guidelines describing when
   an extension (such as a new data type) is likely to require a code
   change within existing implementations?

4.1.  Version Numbers

   Any mechanism for extension by versioning must include provisions to
   ensure interoperability, or at least clean failure modes.  Imagine
   someone creating a protocol and using a "version" field and
   populating it with a value (1, let's say), but giving no information

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   about what would happen when a new version number appears in it.
   This would be a bad protocol design and description; it should be
   clear what the expectation is and how it can be tested.  For example,
   stating that 1.X must be compatible with any version 1 code, but
   version 2 or greater is not expected to be compatible, has different
   implications than stating that version 1 must be a proper subset of
   version 2.

   An example of an under-specified versioning mechanism is provided by
   the MIME-Version header, originally defined in "MIME (Multipurpose
   Internet Mail Extensions)" [RFC1341].  As noted in [RFC1341] Section

      A MIME-Version header field ... uses a version number to declare a
      message to be conformant with this specification and allows mail
      processing agents to distinguish between such messages and those
      generated by older or non-conformant software, which is presumed
      to lack such a field.

   Beyond this, [RFC1341] provided little guidance on versioning
   behavior, or even the format of the MIME-Version header, which was
   specified to contain "text".  [RFC1521] which obsoleted [RFC1341],
   better defined the format of the version field, but still did not
   clarify the versioning behavior:

      Thus, future format specifiers, which might replace or extend
      "1.0", are constrained to be two integer fields, separated by a
      period.  If a message is received with a MIME-version value other
      than "1.0", it cannot be assumed to conform with this
      specification ...

      It is not possible to fully specify how a mail reader that
      conforms with MIME as defined in this document should treat a
      message that might arrive in the future with some value of MIME-
      Version other than "1.0".  However, conformant software is
      encouraged to check the version number and at least warn the user
      if an unrecognized MIME- version is encountered.

   Thus, even though [RFC1521] defined a MIME-Version header with a
   syntax suggestive of a "Major/Minor" versioning scheme, in practice
   the MIME-Version header was little more than a decoration.

   A better example is ROHC (Robust Header Compression).  ROHCv1
   [RFC3095] supports a certain set of profiles for compression
   algorithms.  But experience had shown that these profiles had
   limitations, so the ROHC WG developed ROHCv2 [RFC5225].  A ROHCv1
   implementation does not contain code for the ROHCv2 profiles.  As the
   ROHC WG charter said during the development of ROHCv2:

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      It should be noted that the v2 profiles will thus not be
      compatible with the original (ROHCv1) profiles, which means less
      complex ROHC implementations can be realized by not providing
      support for ROHCv1 (over links not yet supporting ROHC, or by
      shifting out support for ROHCv1 in the long run). Profile support
      is agreed through the ROHC channel negotiation, which is part of
      the ROHC framework and thus not changed by ROHCv2.

   Thus in this case both backwards-compatible and backwards-
   incompatible deployments are possible.  The important point is to
   have a clearly thought out approach to the question of operational
   compatibility.  In the past, protocols have utilized a variety of
   strategies for versioning, many of which have proven problematic.
   These include:

   1. No versioning support.  This approach is exemplified by Extensible
   Authentication Protocol (EAP) [RFC3748] as well as Remote
   Authentication Dial In User Service (RADIUS) [RFC2865], both of which
   provide no support for versioning.  While lack of versioning support
   protects against the proliferation of incompatible dialects, the need
   for extensibility is likely to assert itself in other ways, so that
   ignoring versioning entirely may not be the most forward thinking

   2. Highest mutually supported version (HMSV).  In this approach,
   implementations exchange the version numbers of the highest version
   each supports, with the negotiation agreeing on the highest mutually
   supported protocol version.  This approach implicitly assumes that
   later versions provide improved functionality, and that advertisement
   of a particular version number implies support for all lower version
   numbers.  Where these assumptions are invalid, this approach breaks
   down, potentially resulting in interoperability problems.  An example
   of this issue occurs in Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol
   [I-D.josefsson-pppext-eap-tls-eap] where implementations of higher
   versions may not necessarily provide support for lower versions.

   3. Assumed backward compatibility.  In this approach, implementations
   may send packets with higher version numbers to legacy
   implementations supporting lower versions, but with the assumption
   that the legacy implementations will interpret packets with higher
   version numbers using the semantics and syntax defined for lower
   versions.  This is the approach taken by "Port-Based Network Access
   Control" [IEEE-802.1X].  For this approach to work, legacy
   implementations need to be able to accept packets of known types with
   higher protocol versions without discarding them; protocol
   enhancements need to permit silent discard of unsupported extensions;
   implementations supporting higher versions need to refrain from
   mandating new features when encountering legacy implementations.

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   4. Major/minor versioning.  In this approach, implementations with
   the same major version but a different minor version are assumed to
   be backward compatible, but implementations are required to negotiate
   a mutually supported major version number.  This approach assumes
   that implementations with a lower minor version number but the same
   major version can safely ignore unsupported protocol messages.

   5. Min/max versioning.  This approach is similar to HMSV, but without
   the implied obligation for clients and servers to support all
   versions back to version 1, in perpetuity.  It allows clients and
   servers to cleanly drop support for early versions when those
   versions become so old that they are no longer relevant and no longer
   required.  In this approach, the client initiating the connection
   reports the highest and lowest protocol versions it understands.  The
   server reports back the chosen protocol version:

    a. If the server understands one or more versions in the client's
    range, it reports back the highest mutually understood version.

    b. If there is no mutual version, then the server reports back some
    version that it does understand (selected as described below).  The
    connection is then typically dropped by client or server, but
    reporting this version number first helps facilitate useful error
    messages at the client end:

     * If there is no mutual version, and the server speaks any version
     higher than client max, it reports the lowest version it speaks
     which is greater than the client max.  The client can then report
     to the user, "You need to upgrade to at least version <xx>."

     * Else, the server reports the highest version it speaks.  The
     client can then report to the user, "You need to request the server
     operator to upgrade to at least version <min>."

   Protocols generally do not need any version-negotiation mechanism
   more complicated than the mechanisms described here.  The nature of
   protocol version-negotiation mechanisms is that, by definition, they
   don't get widespread real-world testing until *after* the base
   protocol has been deployed for a while, and its deficiencies have
   become evident. This means that, to be useful, a protocol version
   negotiation mechanism should be simple enough that it can reasonably
   be assumed that all the implementers of the first protocol version at
   least managed to implement the version-negotiation mechanism

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4.2.  Reserved Fields

   Protocols commonly include one or more "reserved" fields, clearly
   intended for future extensions.  It is good practice to specify the
   value to be inserted in such a field by the sender (typically zero)
   and the action to be taken by the receiver when seeing some other
   value (typically no action).  In packet format diagrams, such fields
   are typically labeled "MBZ", to be read as, "Must Be Zero on
   transmission, Must Be Ignored on reception."

   A common mistake of inexperienced protocol implementers is to think
   that "MBZ" means that it's their software's job to verify that the
   value of the field is zero on reception, and reject the packet if
   not.  This is a mistake, and such software will fail when it
   encounters future versions of the protocol where these previously
   reserved fields are given new defined meanings.  Similarly, protocols
   should carefully specify how receivers should react to unknown
   extensions (headers, TLVs etc.), such that failures occur only when
   that is truly the intended outcome.

4.3.  Encoding Formats

   Using widely-supported encoding formats leads to better
   interoperability and easier extensibility.

   As described in "IAB Thoughts on Encodings for International Domain
   Names" [RFC6055], the number of encodings should be minimized and
   complex encodings are generally a bad idea.  As soon as one moves
   outside the ASCII repertoire, issues relating to collation, string
   valid code points, encoding, normalization and comparison arise that
   extensions must handle with care.  See [draft-iab-identifier-
   comparison], [draft-ietf-precis-problem-statement] and [draft-ietf-

   An example is the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) Structure
   of Managed Information (SMI).  Guidelines exist for defining the
   Management Information Base (MIB) objects that SNMP carries
   [RFC4181].  Also, multiple textual conventions have been published,
   so that MIB designers do not have to reinvent the wheel when they
   need a commonly encountered construct.  For example, the "Textual
   Conventions for Internet Network Addresses" [RFC4001] can be used by
   any MIB designer needing to define objects containing IP addresses,
   thus ensuring consistency as the body of MIBs is extended.

4.4.  Parameter Space Design

   In some protocols the parameter space either has no specified limit
   (e.g., Header field names) or is sufficiently large that it is

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   unlikely to be exhausted.  In other protocols, the parameter space is
   limited, and in some cases, has proven inadequate to accommodate
   demand.  Common mistakes include:

   a. A version field that is too small (e.g., two bits or less).  When
   designing a version field, existing as well as potential versions of
   a protocol need to be taken into account.  For example, if a protocol
   is being standardized for which there are existing implementations
   with known interoperability issues, more than one version for "pre-
   standard" implementations may be required.  If two "pre-standard"
   versions are required in addition to a version for an IETF standard,
   then a two-bit version field would only leave one additional version
   code-point for a future update, which could be insufficient.  This
   problem was encountered during the development of the PEAPv2 protocol

   b. A small parameter space (e.g., 8-bits or less) along with a First
   Come, First Served (FCFS) allocation policy.  In general, an FCFS
   allocation policy is only appropriate in situations where parameter
   exhaustion is highly unlikely.  In situations where substantial
   demand is anticipated within a parameter space, the space should
   either be designed to be sufficient to handle that demand, or vendor
   extensibility should be provided to enable vendors to self-allocate.
   The combination of a small parameter space, an FCFS allocation
   policy, and no support for vendor extensibility is particularly
   likely to prove ill-advised.  An example of such a combination was
   the design of the original 8-bit EAP Method Type space [RFC2284].

   Once the potential for parameter exhaustion becomes apparent, it is
   important that it be addressed as quickly as possible.  Protocol
   changes can take years to appear in implementations and by then the
   exhaustion problem could become acute.

   Options for addressing a protocol parameter exhaustion problem

Rethinking the allocation regime
     Where it becomes apparent that the size of a parameter space is
     insufficient to meet demand, it may be necessary to rethink the
     allocation mechanism, in order to prevent or delay parameter space
     exhaustion.  In revising parameter allocation mechanisms, it is
     important to consider both supply and demand aspects so as to avoid
     unintended consequences such as self-allocation or the development
     of black markets for the re-sale of protocol parameters.

     For example, a few years after approval of RFC 2284 [RFC2284], it
     became clear that the combination of a FCFS allocation policy and
     lack of support for vendor-extensions had created the potential for

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     exhaustion of the EAP Method Type space within a few years.  To
     address the issue, [RFC3748] Section 6.2 changed the allocation
     policy for EAP Method Types from FCFS to Expert Review, with
     Specification Required.  Since this allocation policy revision did
     not change the demand for EAP Method Types, it would have been
     likely to result in self-allocation within the standards space, had
     mechanisms not been provided to expand the method type space
     (including support for vendor-specific method types).

Support for vendor-specific parameters
     If the demand that cannot be accommodated is being generated by
     vendors, merely making allocation harder could make things worse if
     this encourages vendors to self-allocate, creating interoperability
     problems.  In such a situation, support for vendor-specific
     parameters should be considered, allowing each vendor to self-
     allocate within their own vendor-specific space based on a vendor's
     Private Enterprise Code (PEC).  For example, in the case of the EAP
     Method Type space, [RFC3748] Section 6.2 also provided for an
     Expanded Type space for "functions specific only to one vendor's

Extensions to the parameter space
     If the goal is to stave off exhaustion in the face of high demand,
     a larger parameter space may be helpful; this may require a new
     version of the protocol (such as was required for IPv6).  Where
     vendor-specific parameter support is available, this may be
     achieved by allocating a PEC for IETF use. Otherwise it may be
     necessary to try to extend the size of the parameter fields, which
     could require a new protocol version or other substantial protocol

Parameter reclamation
     In order to gain time, it may be necessary to reclaim unused
     parameters.  However, it may not be easy to determine whether a
     parameter that has been allocated is in use or not, particularly if
     the entity that obtained the allocation no longer exists or has
     been acquired (possibly multiple times).

Parameter Transfer
     When all the above mechanisms have proved infeasible and parameter
     exhaustion looms in the near future, enabling the transfer of
     ownership of protocol parameters can be considered as a means for
     improving allocation efficiency.  However, enabling transfer of
     parameter ownership can be far from simple if the parameter
     allocation process was not originally designed to enable title
     searches and ownership transfers.

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   A parameter allocation process designed to uniquely allocate code-
   points is fundamentally different from one designed to enable title
   search and transfer.  If the only goal is to ensure that a parameter
   is not allocated more than once, the parameter registry will only
   need to record the initial allocation.  On the other hand, if the
   goal is to enable transfer of ownership of a protocol parameter, then
   it is important not only to record the initial allocation, but also
   to track subsequent ownership changes, so as to make it possible to
   determine and transfer title.  Given the difficulty of converting
   from a unique allocation regime to one requiring support for title
   search and ownership transfer, it is best for the desired
   capabilities to be carefully thought through at the time of registry

4.5.  Cryptographic Agility

   Extensibility with respect to cryptographic algorithms is desirable
   in order to provide resilience against the compromise of any
   particular algorithm.  "Guidance for Authentication, Authorization,
   and Accounting (AAA) Key Management" BCP 132 [RFC4962] Section 3
   provides some basic advice:

      The ability to negotiate the use of a particular cryptographic
      algorithm provides resilience against compromise of a particular
      cryptographic algorithm ...  This is usually accomplished by
      including an algorithm identifier and parameters in the protocol,
      and by specifying the algorithm requirements in the protocol
      specification.  While highly desirable, the ability to negotiate
      key derivation functions (KDFs) is not required.  For
      interoperability, at least one suite of mandatory-to-implement
      algorithms MUST be selected ...

      This requirement does not mean that a protocol must support both
      public-key and symmetric-key cryptographic algorithms.  It means
      that the protocol needs to be structured in such a way that
      multiple public-key algorithms can be used whenever a public-key
      algorithm is employed.  Likewise, it means that the protocol needs
      to be structured in such a way that multiple symmetric-key
      algorithms can be used whenever a symmetric-key algorithm is

   In practice, the most difficult challenge in providing cryptographic
   agility is providing for a smooth transition in the event that a
   mandatory-to-implement algorithm is compromised.  Since it may take
   significant time to provide for widespread implementation of a
   previously undeployed alternative, it is often advisable to recommend
   implementation of alternative algorithms of distinct lineage in
   addition to those made mandatory-to-implement, so that an alternative

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   algorithm is readily available.  If such a recommended alternative is
   not in place, then it would be wise to issue such a recommendation as
   soon as indications of a potential weakness surface.  This is
   particularly important in the case of potential weakness in
   algorithms used to authenticate and integrity-protect the
   cryptographic negotiation itself, such as KDFs or message integrity
   checks (MICs).  Without secure alternatives to compromised KDF or MIC
   algorithms, it may not be possible to secure the cryptographic
   negotiation while retaining backward compatibility.

4.6.  Transport

   In the past, IETF protocols have been specified to operate over
   multiple transports.  Often the protocol was originally specified to
   utilize a single transport,  but limitations were discovered in
   subsequent deployment, so that additional transports were
   subsequently specified.

   In a number of cases, the protocol was originally specified to
   operate over UDP, but subsequent operation disclosed one or more of
   the following issues, leading to the specification of alternative

      a. Payload fragmentation (often due to the introduction of
      extensions or additional usage scenarios);

      b. Problems with congestion control, transport reliability or

      c. Lack of deployment in multicast scenarios, which had been a
      motivator for UDP transport.

   On the other hand, there are also protocols that were originally
   specified to operate over reliable transport that have subsequently
   defined transport over UDP, due to one or more of the following

      d. NAT traversal concerns that were more easily addressed with UDP

      e. Scalability problems, which could be improved by UDP transport.

   Since specification of a single transport offers the highest
   potential for interoperability, protocol designers should carefully
   consider not only initial but potential future requirements in the
   selection of a transport protocol.  Where UDP transport is selected,
   the guidance provided in "Unicast UDP Usage Guidelines for
   Application Designers" [RFC5405] should be taken into account.

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   After significant deployment has occurred, there are few satisfactory
   options for addressing problems with the originally selected
   transport protocol.  While specification of additional transport
   protocols is possible, removal of a widely used transport protocol is
   likely to result in interoperability problems and should be avoided.

   Mandating support for the initially selected transport protocol,
   while designating additional transport protocols as optional may have
   limitations.  Since optional transport protocols are typically
   introduced due to the advantages they afford in certain scenarios, in
   those situations implementations not supporting optional transport
   protocols may exhibit degraded performance or may even fail.

   While mandating support for multiple transport protocols may appear
   attractive, designers need to realistically evaluate the likelihood
   that implementers will conform to the requirements.  For example,
   where resources are limited (such as in embedded systems),
   implementers may choose to only support a subset of the mandated
   transport protocols, resulting in non-interoperable protocol

4.7.  Handling of Unknown Extensions

   IETF protocols have utilized several techniques for handling of
   unknown extensions.  One technique (often used for vendor-specific
   extensions) is to specify that unknown extensions be "silently

   While this approach can deliver a high level of interoperability,
   there are situations in which it is problematic.  For example, where
   security functionality is involved, "silent discard" may not be
   satisfactory, particularly if the recipient does not provide feedback
   as to whether it supports the extension or not.  This can lead to
   operational security issues that are difficult to detect and correct,
   as noted in Appendix A.2 and "common RADIUS Implementation Issues and
   Suggested Fixes" [RFC5080] Section 2.5.

   In order to ensure that a recipient supports an extension, a
   recipient encountering an unknown extension may be required to
   explicitly reject it and to return an error, rather than proceeding.
   This can be accomplished via a "Mandatory" bit in a TLV-based
   protocol such as L2TP [RFC2661], or a "Require" or "Proxy-Require"
   header in a text-based protocol such as SIP [RFC3261] or HTTP

   Since a mandatory extension can result in an interoperability failure
   when communicating with a party that does not support the extension,
   this designation may not be permitted for vendor-specific extensions,

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   and may only be allowed for standards-track extensions.  To enable
   fallback operation with degraded functionality, it is good practice
   for the recipient to indicate the reason for the failure, including a
   list of unsupported extensions.  The initiator can then retry without
   the offending extensions.

   Typically only the recipient will find itself in the position of
   rejecting a mandatory extension, since the initiator can explicitly
   indicate which extensions are supported, with the recipient choosing
   from among the supported extensions.  This can be accomplished via an
   exchange of TLVs, such as in IKEv2 [RFC5996] or Diameter [RFC3588],
   or via use of "Accept", "Accept-Encoding", "Accept-Language", "Allow"
   and "Supported" headers in a text-based protocol such as SIP
   [RFC3261] or HTTP [RFC2616].

5.  Security Considerations

   An extension must not introduce new security risks without also
   providing adequate counter-measures, and in particular it must not
   inadvertently defeat security measures in the unextended protocol.
   Thus, the security analysis for an extension needs to be as thorough
   as for the original protocol - effectively it needs to be a
   regression analysis to check that the extension doesn't inadvertently
   invalidate the original security model.

   This analysis may be simple (e.g., adding an extra opaque data
   element is unlikely to create a new risk) or quite complex (e.g.,
   adding a handshake to a previously stateless protocol may create a
   completely new opportunity for an attacker).

   When the extensibility of a design includes allowing for new and
   presumably more powerful cryptographic algorithms to be added,
   particular care is needed to ensure that the result is in fact
   increased security.  For example, it may be undesirable from a
   security viewpoint to allow negotiation down to an older, less secure

6.  IANA Considerations

   [RFC Editor: please remove this section prior to publication.]

   This document has no IANA Actions.

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7.  References

7.1.  Normative References

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

[RFC4775] Bradner, S., Carpenter, B., and T. Narten, "Procedures for
          Protocol Extensions and Variations", BCP 125, RFC 4775,
          December 2006.

[RFC5226] Narten, T. and H. Alvestrand, "Guidelines for Writing an IANA
          Considerations Section in RFCs", BCP 26, RFC 5226, May 2008.

7.2.  Informative References

          Scudder, J., Chen, E., Mohapatra, P. and K. Patel, "Revised
          Error Handling for BGP UPDATE Messages", Internet draft (work
          in progress), draft-ietf-idr-error-handling-02, June, 2012.

          Palekar, A., Simon, D., Salowey, J., Zhou, H., Zorn, G. and S.
          Josefsson, "Protected EAP Protocol (PEAP) Version 2", draft-
          josefsson-pppext-eap-tls-eap-10.txt, Expired Internet draft
          (work in progress), October 2004.

          Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, "Local and
          Metropolitan Area Networks: Port-Based Network Access
          Control", IEEE Standard 802.1X-2004, December 2004.

[RFC822]  Crocker, D., "Standard for the format of ARPA Internet text
          messages", STD 11, RFC 822, August 1982.

[RFC1263] O'Malley, S. and L. Peterson, "TCP Extensions Considered
          Harmful", RFC 1263, October 1991.

[RFC1341] Freed, N. and N. Borenstein, "MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail
          Extensions): Mechanisms for Specifying and Describing the
          Format of Internet Message Bodies", RFC 1341, June 1992.

[RFC1521] Borenstein, N. and N. Freed, "MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail
          Extensions) Part One: Mechanisms for Specifying and Describing
          the Format of Internet Message Bodies", RFC 1521, September

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[RFC2058] Rigney, C., Rubens, A., Simpson, W. and S. Willens, "Remote
          Authentication Dial In User Service (RADIUS)", RFC 2058,
          January 1997.

[RFC2132] Alexander, S. and R. Droms, "DHCP Options and BOOTP Vendor
          Extensions", RFC 2132, March 1997.

[RFC2246] Dierks, T. and C. Allen, "The TLS Protocol Version 1.0", RFC
          2246, January 1999.

[RFC2284] Blunk, L. and J. Vollbrecht, "PPP Extensible Authentication
          Protocol (EAP)", RFC 2284, March 1998.

[RFC2474] Nichols, K., Blake, S., Baker, F., and D. Black, "Definition
          of the Differentiated Services Field (DS Field) in the IPv4
          and IPv6 Headers", RFC 2474, December 1998.

[RFC2616] Fielding, R., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Frystyk, H., Masinter,
          L., Leach, P., and T. Berners-Lee, "Hypertext Transfer
          Protocol -- HTTP/1.1", RFC 2616, June 1999.

[RFC2661] Townsley, W., Valencia, A., Rubens, A., Pall, G., Zorn, G.,
          and B. Palter, "Layer Two Tunneling Protocol "L2TP"", RFC
          2661, August 1999.

[RFC2671] Vixie, P., "Extension Mechanisms for DNS (EDNS0)",RFC 2671,
          August 1999.

[RFC2822] Resnick, P., "Internet Message Format", RFC 2822, April 2001.

[RFC2865] Rigney, C., Willens, S., Rubens, A., and W. Simpson, "Remote
          Authentication Dial In User Service (RADIUS)", RFC 2865, June

[RFC2882] Mitton, D., "Network Access Servers Requirements: Extended
          RADIUS Practices", RFC 2882, July 2000.

[RFC3095] Bormann, C., Burmeister, C., Degermark, M., Fukushima, H.,
          Hannu, H., Jonsson, L-E., Hakenberg, R., Koren, T., Le, K.,
          Liu, Z., Martensson, A., Miyazaki, A., Svanbro, K., Wiebke,
          T., Yoshimura, T., and H. Zheng, "RObust Header Compression
          (ROHC): Framework and four profiles: RTP, UDP, ESP, and
          uncompressed", RFC 3095, July 2001.

[RFC3261] Rosenberg, J., Schulzrinne, H., Camarillo, G., Johnston, A.,
          Peterson, J., Sparks, R., Handley, M. and E. Schooler, "SIP:
          Session Initiation Protocol", RFC 3261, June 2002.

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[RFC3427] Mankin, A., Bradner, S., Mahy, R., Willis, D., Ott, J., and B.
          Rosen, "Change Process for the Session Initiation Protocol
          (SIP)", BCP 67, RFC 3427, December 2002.

[RFC3575] Aboba, B., "IANA Considerations for RADIUS (Remote
          Authentication Dial In User Service)", RFC 3575, July 2003.

[RFC3588] Calhoun, P., Loughney, J., Guttman, E., Zorn, G. and J. Arkko,
          "Diameter Base Protocol", RFC 3588, September 2003.

[RFC3597] Gustafsson, A., "Handling of Unknown DNS Resource Record (RR)
          Types", RFC 3597, September 2003.

[RFC3692] Narten, T., "Assigning Experimental and Testing Numbers
          Considered Useful", BCP 82, RFC 3692, January 2004.

[RFC3735] Hollenbeck, S., "Guidelines for Extending the Extensible
          Provisioning Protocol (EPP)", RFC 3735, March 2004.

[RFC3748] Aboba, B., Blunk, L., Vollbrecht, J., Carlson, J. and H.
          Lefkowetz, "Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP)", RFC
          3748, June 2004.

[RFC3935] Alvestrand, H., "A Mission Statement for the IETF", RFC 3935,
          October 2004.

[RFC4001] Daniele, M., Haberman, B., Routhier, S., and J.
          Schoenwaelder, "Textual Conventions for Internet Network
          Addresses", RFC 4001, February 2005.

[RFC4181] Heard, C., "Guidelines for Authors and Reviewers of MIB
          Documents", BCP 111, RFC 4181, September 2005.

[RFC4366] Blake-Wilson, S., Nystrom, M., Hopwood, D., Mikkelsen, J., and
          T. Wright, "Transport Layer Security (TLS) Extensions", RFC
          4366, April 2006.

[RFC4485] Rosenberg, J. and H. Schulzrinne, "Guidelines for Authors of
          Extensions to the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)", RFC
          4485, May 2006.

[RFC4521] Zeilenga, K., "Considerations for Lightweight Directory Access
          Protocol (LDAP) Extensions", BCP 118, RFC 4521, June 2006.

[RFC4727] Fenner, B., "Experimental Values In IPv4, IPv6, ICMPv4,
          ICMPv6, UDP, and TCP Headers", RFC 4727, November 2006.

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[RFC4929] Andersson, L. and A. Farrel, "Change Process for Multiprotocol
          Label Switching (MPLS) and Generalized MPLS (GMPLS) Protocols
          and Procedures", BCP 129, RFC 4929, June 2007.

[RFC4962] Housley, R. and B. Aboba, "Guidance for Authentication,
          Authorization, and Accounting (AAA) Key Management", BCP 132,
          RFC 4962, July 2007.

[RFC5080] Nelson, D. and A. DeKok, "Common Remote Authentication Dial In
          User Service (RADIUS) Implementation Issues and Suggested
          Fixes", RFC 5080, December 2007.

[RFC5218] Thaler, D., and B. Aboba, "What Makes for a Successful
          Protocol?", RFC 5218, July 2008.

[RFC5225] Pelletier, G. and K. Sandlund, "RObust Header Compression
          Version 2 (ROHCv2): Profiles for RTP, UDP, IP, ESP and UDP-
          Lite", RFC 5225, April 2008.

[RFC5246] Dierks, T. and E. Rescorla, "The Transport Layer Security
          (TLS) Protocol Version 1.2", RFC 5246, August 2008.

[RFC5321] Klensin, J., "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol", RFC 5321,
          October 2008.

[RFC5405] Eggert, L. and G. Fairhurst, "Unicast UDP Usage Guidelines for
          Application Designers", RFC 5405 (BCP 145), November 2008.

[RFC5421] Cam-Winget, N. and H. Zhou, "Basic Password Exchange within
          the Flexible Authentication via Secure Tunneling Extensible
          Authentication Protocol (EAP-FAST)", RFC 5421, March 2009.

[RFC5422] Cam-Winget, N., McGrew, D., Salowey, J. and H. Zhou, "Dynamic
          Provisioning Using Flexible Authentication via Secure
          Tunneling Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP-FAST)", RFC
          5422, March 2009.

[RFC5704] Bryant, S. and M. Morrow, "Uncoordinated Protocol Development
          Considered Harmful", RFC 5704, November 2009.

[RFC5727] Peterson, J., Jennings, C. and R. Sparks, "Change Process for
          the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and the Real-time
          Applications and Infrastructure Area", BCP 67, RFC 5727, March

[RFC5996] Kaufman, C., Hoffman, P., Nir, Y. and P. Eronen, "Internet Key
          Exchange Protocol Version 2 (IKEv2)", RFC 5996, September

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[RFC6055] Thaler, D., Klensin, J. and S. Cheshire, "IAB Thoughts on
          Encodings for Internationalized Domain Names", RFC 6055,
          February 2011.

[RFC6158] DeKok, A. and G. Weber, "RADIUS Design Guidelines", BCP 158,
          RFC 6158,  March 2011.

[RFC6648] Saint-Andre, P., Crocker, D. and M. Nottingham, "Deprecating
          the 'X-' Prefix and Similar Constructs in Application
          Protocols", RFC 6648, June 2012.


   This document is heavily based on an earlier draft by Scott Bradner
   and Thomas Narten, other parts of which were eventually published as
   RFC 4775.

   That draft stated: The initial version of this document was put
   together by the IESG in 2002.  Since then, it has been reworked in
   response to feedback from John Loughney, Henrik Levkowetz, Mark
   Townsley, Randy Bush and others.

   Valuable comments and suggestions on the current form of the document
   were made by Loa Andersson, Ran Atkinson, Stewart Bryant, Leslie
   Daigle, Alan DeKok, Roy Fielding, Phillip Hallam-Baker, Ted Hardie,
   Alfred Hoenes, John Klensin, Barry Leiba, Eric Rescorla, Adam Roach
   and Pekka Savola.  The text on TLS experience was contributed by
   Yngve Pettersen.

IAB Members at the Time of Approval

   Bernard Aboba
   Jari Arkko
   Marc Blanchet
   Ross Callon
   Alissa Cooper
   Spencer Dawkins
   Joel Halpern
   Russ Housley
   David Kessens
   Danny McPherson
   Jon Peterson
   Dave Thaler
   Hannes Tschofenig

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Appendix A.  Examples

   This section discusses some specific examples, as case studies.

A.1.  Already documented cases

   There are certain documents that specify a change process or describe
   extension considerations for specific IETF protocols:

      The SIP change process [RFC3427], [RFC4485], [RFC5727]
      The (G)MPLS change process (mainly procedural) [RFC4929]
      LDAP extensions [RFC4521]
      EPP extensions [RFC3735]
      DNS extensions [RFC2671][RFC3597]
      SMTP extensions [RFC5321]

   It is relatively common for MIBs, which are all in effect extensions
   of the SMI data model, to be defined or extended outside the IETF.
   BCP 111 [RFC4181] offers detailed guidance for authors and reviewers.

A.2.  RADIUS Extensions

   The RADIUS [RFC2865] protocol was designed to be extensible via
   addition of Attributes.  This extensibility model assumed that
   Attributes would conform to a limited set of data types and that
   vendor extensions would be limited to use by vendors, in situations
   in which interoperability was not required.  Subsequent developments
   have stretched those assumptions.

   From the beginning, uses of the RADIUS protocol extended beyond the
   scope of the original protocol definition (and beyond the scope of
   the RADIUS Working Group charter).  In addition to rampant self-
   allocation within the limited RADIUS standard attribute space,
   vendors defined their own RADIUS commands.  This lead to the rapid
   proliferation of vendor-specific protocol variants.  To this day,
   many common implementation practices have not been documented.  For
   example, authentication server implementations are often typically
   based on a Data Dictionary, enabling addition of Attributes without
   requiring code changes.  Yet the concept of a Data Dictionary is not
   mentioned in [RFC2865].

   As noted in "Extended RADIUS Practices" [RFC2882] Section 1:

      The RADIUS Working Group was formed in 1995 to document the
      protocol of the same name, and was chartered to stay within a set
      of bounds for dial-in terminal servers.  Unfortunately the real
      world of Network Access Servers (NASes) hasn't stayed that small
      and simple, and continues to evolve at an amazing rate.

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      This document shows some of the current implementations on the
      market have already outstripped the capabilities of the RADIUS
      protocol.  A quite a few features have been developed completely
      outside the protocol.  These features use the RADIUS protocol
      structure and format, but employ operations and semantics well
      beyond the RFC documents.

   The limited set of data types defined in [RFC2865] has lead to
   subsequent documents defining new data types.  Since new data types
   are typically defined implicitly as part of defining a new attribute,
   and because RADIUS client and server implementations differ in their
   support of these additional specifications, there is no definitive
   registry of RADIUS data types and data type support has been
   inconsistent.  To catalog commonly implemented data types as well as
   to provide guidance for implementers as well as attribute designers,
   "RADIUS Design Guidelines" [RFC6158] Section 2.1 includes advice on
   basic and complex data types.  Unfortunately, these guidelines were
   published 14 years after the RADIUS protocol was first documented in

   Section 6.2 of the RADIUS specification [RFC2865] defines a mechanism
   for Vendor-Specific extensions (Attribute 26), and states that use of
   Vendor-Specific extensions:

      should be encouraged instead of allocation of global attribute
      types, for functions specific only to one vendor's implementation
      of RADIUS, where no interoperability is deemed useful.

   However, in practice usage of Vendor-Specific Attributes (VSAs) has
   been considerably broader than this.  In particular, VSAs have been
   used by Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) to define their
   own extensions to the RADIUS protocol.  This has caused a number of

   One issue concerns the data model for VSAs.  Since it was not
   envisaged that multi-vendor VSA implementations would need to
   interoperate, the RADIUS specification [RFC2865] does not define the
   data model for VSAs, and allows multiple sub-attributes to be
   included within a single Attribute of type 26.  Since this enables
   VSAs to be defined which would not be supportable by current
   implementations if placed within the standard RADIUS attribute space,
   this has caused problems in standardizing widely deployed VSAs, as
   discussed in "RADIUS Design Guidelines" BCP 158 [RFC6158] Section

      RADIUS attributes can often be developed within the vendor space
      without loss (and possibly even with gain) in functionality.  As a
      result, translation of RADIUS attributes developed within the

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      vendor space into the standard space may provide only modest
      benefits, while accelerating the exhaustion of the standard space.
      We do not expect that all RADIUS attribute specifications
      requiring interoperability will be developed within the IETF, and
      allocated from the standard space.  A more scalable approach is to
      recognize the flexibility of the vendor space, while working
      toward improvements in the quality and availability of RADIUS
      attribute specifications, regardless of where they are developed.

      It is therefore NOT RECOMMENDED that specifications intended
      solely for use by a vendor or SDO be translated into the standard

   Another issue is how implementations should handle unknown VSAs.
   [RFC2865] Section 5.26 states:

      Servers not equipped to interpret the vendor-specific information
      sent by a client MUST ignore it (although it may be reported).
      Clients which do not receive desired vendor-specific information
      SHOULD make an attempt to operate without it, although they may do
      so (and report they are doing so) in a degraded mode.

   However, since VSAs do not contain a "mandatory" bit, RADIUS clients
   and servers may not know whether it is safe to ignore unknown VSAs.
   For example, in the case where VSAs pertain to security (e.g.,
   Filters), it may not be safe to ignore them.  As a result, "Common
   Remote Authentication Dial In User Service (RADIUS) Implementation
   Issues and Suggested Fixes" [RFC5080] Section 2.5 includes the
   following caution:

      To avoid misinterpretation of service requests encoded within
      VSAs, RADIUS servers SHOULD NOT send VSAs containing service
      requests to RADIUS clients that are not known to understand them.
      For example, a RADIUS server should not send a VSA encoding a
      filter without knowledge that the RADIUS client supports the VSA.

   In addition to extending RADIUS by use of VSAs, SDOs have also
   defined new values of the Service-Type attribute in order to create
   new RADIUS commands.  Since the RADIUS specification [RFC2865]
   defined Service-Type values as being allocated First Come, First
   Served (FCFS), this permitted new RADIUS commands to be allocated
   without IETF review.  This oversight has since been fixed in "IANA
   Considerations for RADIUS" [RFC3575].

A.3.  TLS Extensions

   The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) v2 protocol was developed by Netscape
   to be used to secure online transactions on the Internet.  It was

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   later replaced by SSL v3, also developed by Netscape.  SSL v3 was
   then further developed by the IETF as the Transport Layer Security
   (TLS) 1.0 [RFC2246].

   The SSL v3 protocol was not explicitly specified to be extended.
   Even TLS 1.0 did not define an extension mechanism explicitly.
   However, extension "loopholes" were available.  Extension mechanisms
   were finally defined in "Transport Layer Security (TLS) Extensions"

      o  New versions
      o  New cipher suites
      o  Compression
      o  Expanded handshake messages
      o  New record types
      o  New handshake messages

   The protocol also defines how implementations should handle unknown

   Of the above extension methods, new versions and expanded handshake
   messages have caused the most interoperability problems.
   Implementations are supposed to ignore unknown record types but to
   reject unknown handshake messages.

   The new version support in SSL/TLS includes a capability to define
   new versions of the protocol, while allowing newer implementations to
   communicate with older implementations.  As part of this
   functionality, some Key Exchange methods include functionality to
   prevent version rollback attacks.

   The experience with this upgrade functionality in SSL and TLS is
   decidedly mixed:

    o  SSL v2 and SSL v3/TLS are not compatible.  It is possible to use
       SSL v2 protocol messages to initiate a SSL v3/TLS connection, but
       it is not possible to communicate with a SSL v2 implementation
       using SSL v3/TLS protocol messages.
    o  There are implementations that refuse to accept handshakes using
       newer versions of the protocol than they support.
    o  There are other implementations that accept newer versions, but
       have implemented the version rollback protection clumsily.

   The SSL v2 problem has forced SSL v3 and TLS clients to continue to
   use SSL v2 Client Hellos for their initial handshake with almost all
   servers until 2006, much longer than would have been desirable, in
   order to interoperate with old servers.

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   The problem with incorrect handling of newer versions has also forced
   many clients to actually disable the newer protocol versions, either
   by default, or by automatically disabling the functionality, to be
   able to connect to such servers.  Effectively, this means that the
   version rollback protection in SSL and TLS is non-existent if talking
   to a fatally compromised older version.

   SSL v3 and TLS also permitted expansion of the Client Hello and
   Server Hello handshake messages.  This functionality was fully
   defined by the introduction of TLS Extensions, which makes it
   possible to add new functionality to the handshake, such as the name
   of the server the client is connecting to, request certificate status
   information, indicate Certificate Authority support, maximum record
   length, etc.  Several of these extensions also introduce new
   handshake messages.

   It has turned out that many SSL v3 and TLS implementations that do
   not support TLS Extensions, did not, as required by the protocol
   specifications, ignore the unknown extensions, but instead failed to
   establish connections.  Several of the implementations behaving in
   this manner are used by high profile Internet sites, such as online
   banking sites, and this has caused a significant delay in the
   deployment of clients supporting TLS Extensions, and several of the
   clients that have enabled support are using heuristics that allow
   them to disable the functionality when they detect a problem.

   Looking forward, the protocol version problem, in particular, can
   cause future security problems for the TLS protocol.  The strength of
   the digest algorithms (MD5 and SHA-1) used by SSL and TLS is
   weakening.  If MD5 and SHA-1 weaken to the point where it is feasible
   to mount successful attacks against older SSL and TLS versions, the
   current error recovery used by clients would become a security
   vulnerability (among many other serious problems for the Internet).

   To address this issue, TLS 1.2 [RFC5246] makes use of a newer
   cryptographic hash algorithm (SHA-256) during the TLS handshake by
   default.  Legacy ciphersuites can still be used to protect
   application data, but new ciphersuites are specified for data
   protection as well as for authentication within the TLS handshake.
   The hashing method can also be negotiated via a Hello extension.
   Implementations are encouraged to implement new ciphersuites, and to
   enable the negotiation of the ciphersuite used during a TLS session
   to be governed by policy, thus enabling a more rapid transition away
   from weakened ciphersuites.

   The lesson to be drawn from this experience is that it isn't
   sufficient to design extensibility carefully; it must also be
   implemented carefully by every implementer, without exception.  Test

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   suites and certification programs can help provide incentives for
   implementers to pay attention to implementing extensibility
   mechanisms correctly.

A.4.  L2TP Extensions

   Layer Two Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) [RFC2661] carries Attribute-Value
   Pairs (AVPs), with most AVPs having no semantics to the L2TP protocol
   itself.  However, it should be noted that L2TP message types are
   identified by a Message Type AVP (Attribute Type 0) with specific AVP
   values indicating the actual message type.  Thus, extensions relating
   to Message Type AVPs would likely be considered major extensions.

   L2TP also provides for Vendor-Specific AVPs.  Because everything in
   L2TP is encoded using AVPs, it would be easy to define vendor-
   specific AVPs that would be considered major extensions.

   L2TP also provides for a "mandatory" bit in AVPs.  Recipients of L2TP
   messages containing AVPs they do not understand but that have the
   mandatory bit set, are expected to reject the message and terminate
   the tunnel or session the message refers to.  This leads to
   interesting interoperability issues, because a sender can include a
   vendor-specific AVP with the M-bit set, which then causes the
   recipient to not interoperate with the sender.  This sort of behavior
   is counter to the IETF ideals, as implementations of the IETF
   standard should interoperate successfully with other implementations
   and not require the implementation of non-IETF extensions in order to
   interoperate successfully.  Section 4.2 of the L2TP specification
   [RFC2661] includes specific wording on this point, though there was
   significant debate at the time as to whether such language was by
   itself sufficient.

   Fortunately, it does not appear that the potential problems described
   above have yet become a problem in practice.  At the time of this
   writing, the authors are not aware of the existence of any vendor-
   specific AVPs that also set the M-bit.

Change log [RFC Editor: please remove this section]

   -17: 2012-6-27.  Resolved issue 133.
   -16: 2012-6-26.  Resolved issue 176.
   -15: 2012-6-25.  Resolved issues 174 and 175.
   -14: 2012-6-09.  Resolved issue 169.
   -13: 2012-6-03.  Resolved issue 166.
   -12: 2012-5-27.  Resolved issues 127, 128, 129 and 161.
   -11: 2012-2-22.  Resolved issue 126.
   -10: 2012-2-12.  Resolved issues 106 and 108.
   -09: 2011-10-30. Resolved additional issues.

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Internet-Draft    Design Considerations for Extensions      26 June 2012

   -08: 2011-10-22. Resolved additional issues.
   -07: 2011-7-24.  Resolved issues raised in Call for Comment.
   -06: 2011-3-01.  Incorporated corrections and organizational updates.
   -05: 2011-2-04.  Added to the Security Considerations section.
   -04: 2011-2-01.  Added material on cryptographic agility.
   -03: 2011-1-25.  Updates and reorganization.
   -02: 2010-7-12.  Updates by Bernard Aboba.
   -01: 2010-4-07.  Updates by Stuart Cheshire.
   -00: 2009-4-24.  Updated boilerplate, author list.

   -04: 2008-10-24. Updated author addresses, editorial fixes.
   -03: 2008-10-17. Updated references, added material on versioning.
   -02: 2007-06-15. Reorganized Sections 2 and 3.
   -01: 2007-03-04. Updated according to comments, especially the wording
                    about TLS, added various specific examples.

   draft-carpenter-extension-recs-00: original version, 2006-10-12.
   Derived from draft-iesg-vendor-extensions-02.txt dated 2004-06-04 by
   focusing on architectural issues; the procedural issues were moved to
   RFC 4775.

Authors' Addresses

   Brian Carpenter
   Department of Computer Science
   University of Auckland
   PB 92019
   Auckland,   1142
   New Zealand


   Bernard Aboba
   Microsoft Corporation
   One Microsoft Way
   Redmond, WA 98052


   Stuart Cheshire
   Apple Computer, Inc.
   1 Infinite Loop
   Cupertino, CA 95014


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