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CAPPORT Architecture

The information below is for an old version of the document.
Document Type
This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 8952.
Authors Kyle Larose , David Dolson , Heng Liu
Last updated 2020-06-11 (Latest revision 2020-05-11)
Replaces draft-larose-capport-architecture
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
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Stream WG state Submitted to IESG for Publication
Document shepherd Martin Thomson
Shepherd write-up Show Last changed 2020-04-20
IESG IESG state Became RFC 8952 (Informational)
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Needs a YES.
Responsible AD Barry Leiba
Send notices to Martin Thomson <>
IANA IANA review state IANA OK - No Actions Needed
Internet Engineering Task Force                                K. Larose
Internet-Draft                                                  Agilicus
Intended status: Informational                                 D. Dolson
Expires: 12 November 2020                                               
                                                                  H. Liu
                                                             11 May 2020

                          CAPPORT Architecture


   This document describes a CAPPORT architecture.  DHCP or Router
   Advertisements, an optional signaling protocol, and an HTTP API are
   used to provide the solution.  The role of Provisioning Domains
   (PvDs) is described.

Status of This Memo

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

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

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

   This Internet-Draft will expire on 12 November 2020.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2020 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

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

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     1.1.  Requirements Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     1.2.  Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   2.  Components  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     2.1.  User Equipment  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     2.2.  Provisioning Service  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
       2.2.1.  DHCP or Router Advertisements . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
       2.2.2.  Provisioning Domains  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     2.3.  Captive Portal API Server . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     2.4.  Captive Portal Enforcement Device . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     2.5.  Captive Portal Signal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     2.6.  Component Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   3.  User Equipment Identity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     3.1.  Identifiers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     3.2.  Recommended Properties  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
       3.2.1.  Uniquely Identify User Equipment  . . . . . . . . . .  11
       3.2.2.  Hard to Spoof . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
       3.2.3.  Visible to the API Server . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
       3.2.4.  Visible to the Enforcement Device . . . . . . . . . .  11
     3.3.  Evaluating Types of Identifiers . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     3.4.  Example Identifier Types  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
       3.4.1.  Physical Interface  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
       3.4.2.  IP Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
     3.5.  Context-free URI  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
   4.  Solution Workflow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
     4.1.  Initial Connection  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
     4.2.  Conditions About to Expire  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
     4.3.  Handling of Changes in Portal URI . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   5.  Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   6.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   7.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
     7.1.  Trusting the Network  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
     7.2.  Authenticated APIs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
     7.3.  Secure APIs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
     7.4.  Risks Associated with the Signaling Protocol  . . . . . .  17
     7.5.  User Options  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
   8.  References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17

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     8.1.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
     8.2.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   Appendix A.  Existing Captive Portal Detection Implementations  .  19
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19

1.  Introduction

   In this document, "Captive Portal" is used to describe a network to
   which a device may be voluntarily attached, such that network access
   is limited until some requirements have been fulfilled.  Typically a
   user is required to use a web browser to fulfill requirements imposed
   by the network operator, such as reading advertisements, accepting an
   acceptable-use policy, or providing some form of credentials.

   Implementations generally require a web server, some method to allow/
   block traffic, and some method to alert the user.  Common methods of
   alerting the user involve modifying HTTP or DNS traffic.

   This document standardizes an architecture for implementing captive
   portals while addressing most of the problems arising for current
   captive portal mechanisms.  The architecture is guided by these

   *  Solutions SHOULD NOT require the forging of responses from DNS or
      HTTP servers, or any other protocol.  In particular, solutions
      SHOULD NOT require man-in-the-middle proxy of TLS traffic.

   *  Solutions MUST operate at the layer of Internet Protocol (IP) or
      above, not being specific to any particular access technology such
      as Cable, WiFi or mobile telecom.

   *  Solutions MAY allow a device to be alerted that it is in a captive
      network when attempting to use any application on the network.

   *  Solutions SHOULD allow a device to learn that it is in a captive
      network before any application attempts to use the network.

   *  The state of captivity SHOULD be explicitly available to devices
      (in contrast to modification of DNS or HTTP, which is only
      indirectly machine-detectable by the client when it compares
      responses to well-known queries with expected responses).

   *  The architecture MUST provide a path of incremental migration,
      acknowledging a huge variety of portals and end-user device
      implementations and software versions.

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   A side-benefit of the architecture described in this document is that
   devices without user interfaces are able to identify parameters of
   captivity.  However, this document does not yet describe a mechanism
   for such devices to escape captivity.

   The architecture uses the following mechanisms:

   *  Network provisioning protocols provide end-user devices with a
      Uniform Resource Identifier [RFC3986] (URI) for the API that end-
      user devices query for information about what is required to
      escape captivity.  DHCP, DHCPv6, and Router-Advertisement options
      for this purpose are available in [RFC7710bis].  Other protocols
      (such as RADIUS), Provisioning Domains [I-D.pfister-capport-pvd],
      or static configuration may also be used.  A device MAY query this
      API at any time to determine whether the network is holding the
      device in a captive state.

   *  End-user devices can be notified of captivity with Captive Portal
      Signals in response to traffic.  This notification works in
      response to any Internet protocol, and is not done by modifying
      protocols in-band.  This notification does not carry the portal
      URI; rather it provides a notification to the User Equipment that
      it is in a captive state.

   *  Receipt of a Captive Portal Signal informs an end-user device that
      it could be captive.  In response, the device MAY query the
      provisioned API to obtain information about the network state.
      The device MAY take immediate action to satisfy the portal
      (according to its configuration/policy).

   The architecture attempts to provide confidentiality, authentication,
   and safety mechanisms to the extent possible.

1.1.  Requirements Language

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP
   14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all
   capitals, as shown here.

1.2.  Terminology

   Captive Network: A network which limits communication of attached
   devices to restricted hosts until the user has satisfied Captive
   Portal Conditions, after which access is permitted to a wider set of
   hosts (typically the Internet).

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   Captive Portal Conditions: site-specific requirements that a user or
   device must satisfy in order to gain access to the wider network.

   Captive Portal Enforcement Device: The network equipment which
   enforces the traffic restriction.  Also known as Enforcement Device.

   Captive Portal User Equipment: Also known as User Equipment.  A
   device which has voluntarily joined a network for purposes of
   communicating beyond the constraints of the captive network.

   Captive Portal Server: The web server providing a user interface for
   assisting the user in satisfying the conditions to escape captivity.

   Captive Portal API: Also known as API.  An HTTP API allowing User
   Equipment to query its state of captivity within the Captive Portal.

   Captive Portal API Server: Also known as API Server.  A server
   hosting the Captive Portal API.

   Captive Portal Signal: A notification from the network used to inform
   the User Equipment that the state of its captivity could have

   Captive Portal Signaling Protocol: Also known as Signaling Protocol.
   The protocol for communicating Captive Portal Signals.

2.  Components

2.1.  User Equipment

   The User Equipment is the device that a user desires to be attached
   to a network with full access to all hosts on the network (e.g., to
   have Internet access).  The User Equipment communication is typically
   restricted by the Enforcement Device, described in Section 2.4, until
   site-specific requirements have been met.

   At this time we consider only devices with web browsers, with web
   applications being the means of satisfying Captive Portal Conditions.
   An example interactive User Equipment is a smart phone.

   The User Equipment:

   *  SHOULD support provisioning of the URI for the Captive Portal API
      (e.g., by DHCP)

   *  SHOULD distinguish Captive Portal API access per network
      interface, in the manner of Provisioning Domain Architecture

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   *  SHOULD have a mechanism for notifying the user of the Captive

   *  SHOULD have a web browser so that the user may navigate the
      Captive Portal user interface.

   *  MAY prevent applications from using networks that do not grant
      full network access.  E.g., a device connected to a mobile network
      may be connecting to a captive WiFi network; the operating system
      MAY avoid updating the default route until network access
      restrictions have been lifted (excepting access to the Captive
      Portal server) in the new network.  This has been termed "make
      before break".

   None of the above requirements are mandatory because (a) we do not
   wish to say users or devices must seek full access to the captive
   network, (b) the requirements may be fulfilled by manually visiting
   the captive portal web application, and (c) legacy devices must
   continue to be supported.

   If User Equipment supports the Captive Portal API, it MUST validate
   the API server's TLS certificate (see [RFC2818]).  An Enforcement
   Device SHOULD allow access to any services that User Equipment could
   need to contact to perform certificate validation, such as OCSP
   responders, CRLs, and NTP servers; see Section 4.1 of
   [I-D.ietf-capport-api] for more information.  If certificate
   validation fails, User Equipment MUST NOT proceed with any of the
   behavior described above.

2.2.  Provisioning Service

   Here we discuss candidate mechanisms for provisioning the User
   Equipment with the URI of the API to query captive portal state and
   navigate the portal.

2.2.1.  DHCP or Router Advertisements

   A standard for providing a portal URI using DHCP or Router
   Advertisements is described in [RFC7710bis].  The CAPPORT
   architecture expects this URI to indicate the API described in
   Section 2.3.

2.2.2.  Provisioning Domains

   Although still a work in progress, [I-D.pfister-capport-pvd] proposes
   a mechanism for User Equipment to be provided with PvD Bootstrap
   Information containing the URI for the JSON-based API described in
   Section 2.3.

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2.3.  Captive Portal API Server

   The purpose of a Captive Portal API is to permit a query of Captive
   Portal state without interrupting the user.  This API thereby removes
   the need for User Equipment to perform clear-text "canary" HTTP
   queries to check for response tampering.

   The URI of this API will have been provisioned to the User Equipment.
   (Refer to Section 2.2).

   This architecture expects the User Equipment to query the API when
   the User Equipment attaches to the network and multiple times
   thereafter.  Therefore the API MUST support multiple repeated queries
   from the same User Equipment and return the state of captivity for
   the equipment.

   At minimum, the API MUST provide: (1) the state of captivity and (2)
   a URI for the Captive Portal Server.

   A caller to the API needs to be presented with evidence that the
   content it is receiving is for a version of the API that it supports.
   For an HTTP-based interaction, such as in [I-D.ietf-capport-api] this
   might be achieved by using a content type that is unique to the

   When User Equipment receives Captive Portal Signals, the User
   Equipment MAY query the API to check the state.  The User Equipment
   SHOULD rate-limit these API queries in the event of the signal being
   flooded.  (See Section 7.)

   The API MUST be extensible to support future use-cases by allowing
   extensible information elements.

   The API MUST use TLS to ensure server authentication.  The
   implementation of the API MUST ensure both confidentiality and
   integrity of any information provided by or required by it.

   This document does not specify the details of the API.

2.4.  Captive Portal Enforcement Device

   The Enforcement Device component restricts the network access of User
   Equipment according to site-specific policy.  Typically User
   Equipment is permitted access to a small number of services and is
   denied general network access until it satisfies the Captive Portal

   The Enforcement Device component:

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   *  Allows traffic to pass for User Equipment that is permitted to use
      the network and has satisfied the Captive Portal Conditions.

   *  Blocks (discards) traffic according to the site-specific policy
      for User Equipment that has not yet satisfied the Captive Portal

   *  May signal User Equipment using the Captive Portal Signaling
      protocol if certain traffic is blocked.

   *  Permits User Equipment that has not satisfied the Captive Portal
      Conditions to access necessary APIs and web pages to fulfill
      requirements for escaping captivity.

   *  Updates allow/block rules per User Equipment in response to
      operations from the Captive Portal Server.

2.5.  Captive Portal Signal

   When User Equipment first connects to a network, or when there are
   changes in status, the Enforcement Device could generate a signal
   toward the User Equipment.  This signal indicates that the User
   Equipment might need to contact the API Server to receive updated
   information.  For instance, this signal might be generated when the
   end of a session is imminent, or when network access was denied.

   An Enforcement Device MUST rate-limit any signal generated in
   response to these conditions.  See Section 7.4 for a discussion of
   risks related to a Captive Portal Signal.

2.6.  Component Diagram

   The following diagram shows the communication between each component.

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   o . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
   . CAPTIVE NETWORK                                               .
   .                                            +--------------+   .
   . +------------+   Provision API URI         | Provisioning |   .
   . |            |<---------------------------+|  Service     |   .
   . |   User     |                             +--------------+   .
   . | Equipment  |   Query captivity status    +-------------+    .
   . |            |+--------------------------->|  API        |    .
   . |            |  Captivity status response  |  Server     |    .
   . |            |<---------------------------+|             |    .
   . |            |                             +------+------+    .
   . |            |                                    | Status    .
   . |            | Portal UI page requests     +------+------+    .
   . |            |+--------------------------->|  Web Portal |    .
   . |            | Portal UI pages             |  Server     |    .
   . |            |<---------------------------+|             |    .
   . +------------+                             |             |    .
   .     ^   ^ |                                +-------------+    .
   .     |   | | Data to/from ext. network               |         .
   .     |   | +-----------------> +---------------+  Allow/Deny   .
   .     |   +--------------------+|               |    Rules      .
   .     |                         | Enforcement   |     |         .
   .     |   Captive Portal Signal | Device        | <---+         .
   .     +-------------------------+---------------+               .
   .                                      ^ |                      .
   .                                      | |                      .
   .                          Data to/from external network        .
   .                                      | |                      .
   o . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .| |. . . . . . . . . . . o
                                          | v
                                     EXTERNAL NETWORK

          Figure 1: Captive Portal Architecture Component Diagram

   In the diagram:

   *  During provisioning (e.g., DHCP), the User Equipment acquires the
      URI for the Captive Portal API.

   *  The User Equipment queries the API to learn of its state of
      captivity.  If captive, the User Equipment presents the portal
      user interface from the Web Portal Server to the user.

   *  Based on user interaction, the Web Portal Server directs the
      Enforcement Device to either allow or deny external network access
      for the User Equipment.

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   *  The User Equipment attempts to communicate to the external network
      through the Enforcement Device.

   *  The Enforcement Device either allows the User Equipment's packets
      to the external network, or blocks the packets.  If blocking
      traffic and a signal has been implemented, it may respond with a
      Captive Portal Signal.

   Although the Provisioning Service, API Server, and Web Portal Server
   functions are shown as discrete blocks, they could of course be
   combined into a single element.

3.  User Equipment Identity

   Multiple components in the architecture interact with both the User
   Equipment and each other.  Since the User Equipment is the focus of
   these interactions, the components must be able to both identify the
   User Equipment from their interactions with it, and to agree on the
   identity of the User Equipment when interacting with each other.

   The methods by which the components interact restrict the type of
   information that may be used as an identifying characteristics.  This
   section discusses the identifying characteristics.

3.1.  Identifiers

   An Identifier is a characteristic of the User Equipment used by the
   components of a Captive Portal to uniquely determine which specific
   User Equipment is interacting with them.  An Identifier MAY be a
   field contained in packets sent by the User Equipment to the External
   Network.  Or, an Identifier MAY be an ephemeral property not
   contained in packets destined for the External Network, but instead
   correlated with such information through knowledge available to the
   different components.

3.2.  Recommended Properties

   The set of possible identifiers is quite large.  However, in order to
   be considered a good identifier, an identifier SHOULD meet the
   following criteria.  Note that the optimal identifier will likely
   change depending on the position of the components in the network as
   well as the information available to them.  An identifier SHOULD:

   *  Uniquely Identify the User Equipment

   *  Be Hard to Spoof

   *  Be Visible to the API Server

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   *  Be Visible to the Enforcement Device

   An identifier might only apply to the current point of network
   attachment.  If the device moves to a different network location its
   identity could change.

3.2.1.  Uniquely Identify User Equipment

   Each instance of User Equipment interacting with the Captive Network
   MUST be given an identifier that is unique among User Equipment
   interacting at that time.

   Over time, the User Equipment assigned to an identifier value MAY
   change.  Allowing the identified device to change over time ensures
   that the space of possible identifying values need not be overly

   Independent Captive Portals MAY use the same identifying value to
   identify different User Equipment.  Allowing independent captive
   portals to reuse identifying values allows the identifier to be a
   property of the local network, expanding the space of possible

3.2.2.  Hard to Spoof

   A good identifier does not lend itself to being easily spoofed.  At
   no time should it be simple or straightforward for one User Equipment
   to pretend to be another User Equipment, regardless of whether both
   are active at the same time.  This property is particularly important
   when the User Equipment is extended externally to devices such as
   billing systems, or where the identity of the User Equipment could
   imply liability.

3.2.3.  Visible to the API Server

   Since the API Server will need to perform operations which rely on
   the identity of the User Equipment, such as answering a query about
   whether the User Equipment is captive, the API Server needs to be
   able to relate a request to the User Equipment making the request.

3.2.4.  Visible to the Enforcement Device

   The Enforcement Device will decide on a per-packet basis whether the
   packet should be forwarded to the external network.  Since this
   decision depends on which User Equipment sent the packet, the
   Enforcement Device requires that it be able to map the packet to its
   concept of the User Equipment.

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3.3.  Evaluating Types of Identifiers

   To evaluate whether a type of identifier is appropriate, one should
   consider every recommended property from the perspective of
   interactions among the components in the architecture.  When
   comparing identifier types, choose the one which best satisfies all
   of the recommended properties.  The architecture does not provide an
   exact measure of how well an identifier type satisfies a given
   property; care should be taken in performing the evaluation.

3.4.  Example Identifier Types

   This section provides some example identifier types, along with some
   evaluation of whether they are suitable types.  The list of
   identifier types is not exhaustive.  Other types may be used.  An
   important point to note is that whether a given identifier type is
   suitable depends heavily on the capabilities of the components and
   where in the network the components exist.

3.4.1.  Physical Interface

   The physical interface by which the User Equipment is attached to the
   network can be used to identify the User Equipment.  This identifier
   type has the property of being extremely difficult to spoof: the User
   Equipment is unaware of the property; one User Equipment cannot
   manipulate its interactions to appear as though it is another.

   Further, if only a single User Equipment is attached to a given
   physical interface, then the identifier will be unique.  If multiple
   User Equipment is attached to the network on the same physical
   interface, then this type is not appropriate.

   Another consideration related to uniqueness of the User Equipment is
   that if the attached User Equipment changes, both the API Server and
   the Enforcement Device MUST invalidate their state related to the
   User Equipment.

   The Enforcement Device needs to be aware of the physical interface,
   which constrains the environment: it must either be part of the
   device providing physical access (e.g., implemented in firmware), or
   packets traversing the network must be extended to include
   information about the source physical interface (e.g.  a tunnel).

   The API Server faces a similar problem, implying that it should co-
   exist with the Enforcement Device, or that the Enforcement Device
   should extend requests to it with the identifying information.

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3.4.2.  IP Address

   A natural identifier type to consider is the IP address of the User
   Equipment.  At any given time, no device on the network can have the
   same IP address without causing the network to malfunction, so it is
   appropriate from the perspective of uniqueness.

   However, it may be possible to spoof the IP address, particularly for
   malicious reasons where proper functioning of the network is not
   necessary for the malicious actor.  Consequently, any solution using
   the IP address SHOULD proactively try to prevent spoofing of the IP
   address.  Similarly, if the mapping of IP address to User Equipment
   is changed, the components of the architecture MUST remove or update
   their mapping to prevent spoofing.  Demonstrations of return
   routeability, such as that required for TCP connection establishment,
   might be sufficient defense against spoofing, though this might not
   be sufficient in networks that use broadcast media (such as some
   wireless networks).

   Since the IP address may traverse multiple segments of the network,
   more flexibility is afforded to the Enforcement Device and the API
   Server: they simply must exist on a segment of the network where the
   IP address is still unique.  However, consider that a NAT may be
   deployed between the User Equipment and the Enforcement Device.  In
   such cases, it is possible for the components to still uniquely
   identify the device if they are aware of the port mapping.

   In some situations, the User Equipment may have multiple IP
   addresses, while still satisfying all of the recommended properties.
   This raises some challenges to the components of the network.  For
   example, if the User Equipment tries to access the network with
   multiple IP addresses, should the Enforcement Device and API Server
   treat each IP address as a unique User Equipment, or should it tie
   the multiple addresses together into one view of the subscriber?  An
   implementation MAY do either.  Attention should be paid to IPv6 and
   the fact that it is expected for a device to have multiple IPv6
   addresses on a single link.  In such cases, identification could be
   performed by subnet, such as the /64 to which the IP belongs.

3.5.  Context-free URI

   A Captive Portal API needs to present information to clients that is
   unique to that client.  To do this, some systems use information from
   the context of a request, such as the source address, to identify the

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   Using information from context rather than information from the URI
   allows the same URI to be used for different clients.  However, it
   also means that the resource is unable to provide relevant
   information if the UE makes a request using a different network path.
   This might happen when UE has multiple network interfaces.  It might
   also happen if the address of the API provided by DNS depends on
   where the query originates (as in split DNS [RFC8499]).

   Accessing the API MAY depend on contextual information.  However, the
   URIs provided in the API SHOULD be unique to the UE and not dependent
   on contextual information to function correctly.

   Though a URI might still correctly resolve when the UE makes the
   request from a different network, it is possible that some functions
   could be limited to when the UE makes requests using the captive
   network.  For example, payment options could be absent or a warning
   could be displayed to indicate the payment is not for the current

   URIs could include some means of identifying the User Equipment in
   the URIs.  However, including unauthenticated User Equipment
   identifiers in the URI may expose the service to spoofing or replay

4.  Solution Workflow

   This section aims to improve understanding by describing a possible
   workflow of solutions adhering to the architecture.

4.1.  Initial Connection

   This section describes a possible workflow when User Equipment
   initially joins a Captive Network.

   1.  The User Equipment joins the Captive Network by acquiring a DHCP
       lease, RA, or similar, acquiring provisioning information.

   2.  The User Equipment learns the URI for the Captive Portal API from
       the provisioning information (e.g., [RFC7710bis]).

   3.  The User Equipment accesses the Captive Portal API to receive
       parameters of the Captive Network, including web-portal URI.
       (This step replaces the clear-text query to a canary URI.)

   4.  If necessary, the User navigates the web portal to gain access to
       the external network.

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   5.  The Captive Portal API server indicates to the Enforcement Device
       that the User Equipment is allowed to access the external

   6.  The User Equipment attempts a connection outside the captive

   7.  If the requirements have been satisfied, the access is permitted;
       otherwise the "Expired" behavior occurs.

   8.  The User Equipment accesses the network until conditions Expire.

4.2.  Conditions About to Expire

   This section describes a possible workflow when access is about to

   1.  Precondition: the API has provided the User Equipment with a
       duration over which its access is valid

   2.  The User Equipment is communicating with the outside network

   3.  The User Equipment's UI indicates that the length of time left
       for its access has fallen below a threshold

   4.  The User Equipment visits the API again to validate the expiry

   5.  If expiry is still imminent, the User Equipment prompts the user
       to access the web-portal URI again

   6.  The User extends their access through the web-portal

   7.  The User Equipment's access to the outside network continues

4.3.  Handling of Changes in Portal URI

   A different Captive Portal API URI could be returned in the following

   *  If DHCP is used, a lease renewal/rebind may return a different
      Captive Portal API URI.

   *  If RA is used, a new Captive Portal API URI may be specified in a
      new RA message received by end User Equipment.

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   Whenever a new Portal URI is received by end User Equipment, it
   SHOULD discard the old URI and use the new one for future requests to
   the API.

5.  Acknowledgments

   The authors thank Lorenzo Colitti for providing the majority of the
   content for the Captive Portal Signal requirements.

   The authors thank various individuals for their feedback on the
   mailing list and during the IETF98 hackathon: David Bird, Erik Kline,
   Alexis La Goulette, Alex Roscoe, Darshak Thakore, and Vincent van

6.  IANA Considerations

   This memo includes no request to IANA.

7.  Security Considerations

7.1.  Trusting the Network

   When joining a network, some trust is placed in the network operator.
   This is usually considered to be a decision by a user on the basis of
   the reputation of an organization.  However, once a user makes such a
   decision, protocols can support authenticating that a network is
   operated by who claims to be operating it.  The Provisioning Domain
   Architecture [RFC7556] provides some discussion on authenticating an

   Given that a user chooses to visit a Captive Portal URI, the URI
   location SHOULD be securely provided to the user's device.  E.g., the
   DHCPv6 AUTH option can sign this information.

   If a user decides to incorrectly trust an attacking network, they
   might be convinced to visit an attacking web page and unwittingly
   provide credentials to an attacker.  Browsers can authenticate
   servers but cannot detect cleverly misspelled domains, for example.

7.2.  Authenticated APIs

   The solution described here assumes that when the User Equipment
   needs to trust the API server, server authentication will be
   performed using TLS mechanisms.

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7.3.  Secure APIs

   The solution described here requires that the API be secured using
   TLS.  This is required to allow the User Equipment and API Server to
   exchange secrets which can be used to validate future interactions.
   The API MUST ensure the integrity of this information, as well as its

7.4.  Risks Associated with the Signaling Protocol

   If a Signaling Protocol is implemented, it may be possible for any
   user on the Internet to send signals in attempt to cause the
   receiving equipment to communicate with the Captive Portal API.  This
   has been considered, and implementations may address it in the
   following ways:

   *  The signal only informs the User Equipment to query the API.  It
      does not carry any information which may mislead or misdirect the
      User Equipment.

   *  Even when responding to the signal, the User Equipment securely
      authenticates with API Servers.

   *  Accesses to the API Server are rate limited, limiting the impact
      of a repeated attack.

7.5.  User Options

   The Captive Portal Signal could inform the User Equipment that it is
   being held captive.  There is no requirement that the User Equipment
   do something about this.  Devices MAY permit users to disable
   automatic reaction to Captive Portal Signals indications for privacy
   reasons.  However, there would be the trade-off that the user doesn't
   get notified when network access is restricted.  Hence, end-user
   devices MAY allow users to manually control captive portal
   interactions, possibly on the granularity of Provisioning Domains.

8.  References

8.1.  Normative References

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

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   [RFC2818]  Rescorla, E., "HTTP Over TLS", RFC 2818,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2818, May 2000,

   [RFC7556]  Anipko, D., Ed., "Multiple Provisioning Domain
              Architecture", RFC 7556, DOI 10.17487/RFC7556, June 2015,

              Kumari, W. and E. Kline, "Captive-Portal Identification in
              DHCP / RA", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-ietf-
              capport-rfc7710bis-01, 12 January 2020,

   [RFC8174]  Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC
              2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174,
              May 2017, <>.

8.2.  Informative References

              Pauly, T. and D. Thakore, "Captive Portal API", Work in
              Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-ietf-capport-api-06, 31
              March 2020,

              Pfister, P. and T. Pauly, "Using Provisioning Domains for
              Captive Portal Discovery", Work in Progress, Internet-
              Draft, draft-pfister-capport-pvd-00, 30 June 2018,

   [RFC3986]  Berners-Lee, T., Fielding, R., and L. Masinter, "Uniform
              Resource Identifier (URI): Generic Syntax", STD 66,
              RFC 3986, DOI 10.17487/RFC3986, January 2005,

   [RFC8499]  Hoffman, P., Sullivan, A., and K. Fujiwara, "DNS
              Terminology", BCP 219, RFC 8499, DOI 10.17487/RFC8499,
              January 2019, <>.

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Appendix A.  Existing Captive Portal Detection Implementations

   Operating systems and user applications may perform various tests
   when network connectivity is established to determine if the device
   is attached to a network with a captive portal present.  A common
   method is to attempt to make a HTTP request to a known, vendor-hosted
   endpoint with a fixed response.  Any other response is interpreted as
   a signal that a captive portal is present.  This check is typically
   not secured with TLS, as a network with a captive portal may
   intercept the connection, leading to a host name mismatch.  This has
   been referred to as a "canary" request because, like the canary in
   the coal mine, it can be the first sign that something is wrong.

   Another test that can be performed is a DNS lookup to a known address
   with an expected answer.  If the answer differs from the expected
   answer, the equipment detects that a captive portal is present.  DNS
   queries over TCP or HTTPS are less likely to be modified than DNS
   queries over UDP due to the complexity of implementation.

   The different tests may produce different conclusions, varying by
   whether or not the implementation treats both TCP and UDP traffic,
   and by which types of DNS are intercepted.

   Malicious or misconfigured networks with a captive portal present may
   not intercept these requests and choose to pass them through or
   decide to impersonate, leading to the device having a false negative.

Authors' Addresses

   Kyle Larose


   David Dolson


   Heng Liu


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