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A Pseudo-Random Function (PRF) API Extension for the Generic Security Service Application Program Interface (GSS-API)

The information below is for an old version of the document that is already published as an RFC.
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This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 4401.
Author Nicolás Williams
Last updated 2015-10-14 (Latest revision 2005-08-29)
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Intended RFC status Proposed Standard
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IESG IESG state Became RFC 4401 (Proposed Standard)
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NETWORK WORKING GROUP                                        N. Williams
Internet-Draft                                                       Sun
Expires: February 27, 2006                               August 26, 2005

                  A PRF API extension for the GSS-API

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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2005).


   This document defines a Pseudo-Random Function (PRF) extension to the
   Generic Security Service Application Programming Interface (GSS-API)
   for keying application protocols given an established GSS-API
   security context.  The primary intended use of this function is to
   key secure session layers that don't or cannot use GSS-API per-
   message MIC (message integrity check) and wrap tokens for session

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   1.1 Conventions used in this document  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.  GSS_Pseudo_random()  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.1 C-Bindings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   3.  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   4.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   5.  References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   5.1 Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   5.2 Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
       Author's Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
       Intellectual Property and Copyright Statements . . . . . . . .  9

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1.  Introduction

   A need has arisen for users of the GSS-API to key applications'
   cryptographic protocols using established GSS-API security contexts.
   Such applications can use the GSS-API for authentication, but not for
   transport security (for whatever reasons), and since the GSS-API does
   not provide a method for obtaining keying material from established
   security contexts such applications cannot make effective use of the

   To address this need we define a pseudo-random function (PRF)
   extension to the GSS-API.

   Though this document specifies an abstract API as an extension to the
   GSS-API version 2, update 1, and though it specifies the bindings of
   this extension for the C programming language, it does not specify a
   revision of the GSS-API and so does not address the matter of how
   portable applications detect support for and ensure access to this
   extension.  We defer this matter to an expected, comprehensive update
   to the GSS-API.

1.1  Conventions used in this document

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

2.  GSS_Pseudo_random()


   o  context CONTEXT handle,

   o  prf_key INTEGER,

   o  prf_in OCTET STRING,

   o  desired_output_len INTEGER


   o  major_status INTEGER,

   o  minor_status INTEGER,

   o  prf_out OCTET STRING

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   Return major_status codes:

   o  GSS_S_COMPLETE indicates no error.

   o  GSS_S_NO_CONTEXT indicates that a null context has been provided
      as input.

   o  GSS_S_CONTEXT_EXPIRED indicates that an expired context has been
      provided as input.

   o  GSS_S_UNAVAILABLE indicates that the mechanism lacks support for
      this function or, if the security context is not fully
      established, that the context is not ready to compute the PRF with
      the given prf_key, or that the given prf_key is not available.

   o  GSS_S_FAILURE indicates general failure, possibly due to the given
      input data being too large or of zero length, or due to the
      desired_output_len being zero; the minor status code may provide
      additional information.

   This function applies the established context's mechanism's keyed
   pseudo-random function (PRF) to the input data ('prf_in'), keyed with
   key material associated with the given security context and
   identified by 'prf_key', and outputs the resulting octet string
   ('prf_out') of desired_output_len length.

   The minimum input data length is one octet.

   Mechanisms MUST be able to consume all the provided prf_in input data
   that is 2^14 or fewer octets.

   If a mechanism cannot consume as much input data as provided by the
   caller, then GSS_Pseudo_random() MUST return GSS_S_FAILURE.

   The minimum desired_output_len is one.

   Mechanisms MUST be able to output at least up to 2^14 octets.

   If the implementation cannot produce the desired output due to lack
   of resources then it MUST return GSS_S_FAILURE and MUST set a
   suitable minor status code.

   The prf_key can take on the following values: GSS_C_PRF_KEY_FULL,
   GSS_C_PRF_KEY_PARTIAL or mechanism-specific values, if any.  This
   parameter is intended to distinguish between the best cryptographic
   keys that may be available only after full security context
   establishment and keys that may be available prior to full security
   context establishment.  For some mechanisms, or contexts, those two

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   prf_key values MAY refer to the same cryptographic keys; for
   mechanisms like the Kerberos V GSS-API mechanism [RFC1964] where one
   peer may assert a key that may be considered better than the others
   they MAY be different keys.

   GSS_C_PRF_KEY_PARTIAL corresponds to a key that would be have been
   used while the security context was partially established, even if it
   is fully established when GSS_Pseudo_random() is actually called.
   Mechanism-specific prf_key values are intended to refer to any other
   keys that may be available.

   The GSS_C_PRF_KEY_FULL value corresponds to the best key available
   for fully-established security contexts.

   GSS_Pseudo_random() has the following properties:

   o  its output string MUST be a pseudo-random function [GGM1] [GGM2]
      of the input keyed with key material from the given security
      context -- the chances of getting the same output given different
      input parameters should be exponentially small.

   o  when successfully applied to the same inputs by an initiator and
      acceptor using the same security context, it MUST produce the
      _same results_ for both, the initiator and acceptor, even if
      called multiple times (as long as the security context is not

   o  upon full establishment of a security context all cryptographic
      keys and/or negotiations used for computing the PRF with any
      prf_key MUST be authenticated (mutually, if mutual authentication
      is in effect for the given security context).

   o  the outputs of the mechanism's GSS_Pseudo_random() (for different
      inputs) and its per-message tokens for the given security context
      MUST be "cryptographically separate;" in other words, it must not
      be feasible to recover key material for one mechanism operation or
      transform its tokens and PRF outputs from one to the other given
      only said tokens and PRF outputs.  [This is a fancy way of saying
      that key derivation and strong cryptographic operations and
      constructions must be used.]

   o  as implied by the above requirement, it MUST NOT be possible to
      access any raw keys of a security context through
      GSS_Pseudo_random(), no matter what inputs are given.

   Mechanisms MAY limit the output of the PRF, possibly in ways related
   to the types of cryptographic keys available for the PRF function,
   thus the prf_out output of GSS_Pseudo_random() MAY be smaller than

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2.1  C-Bindings

   #define GSS_C_PRF_KEY_FULL 0
   #define GSS_C_PRF_KEY_PARTIAL 1

   OM_uint32 gss_pseudo_random(
     OM_uint32                     *minor_status,
     gss_ctx_id_t                  context,
     int                           prf_key,
     const gss_buffer_t            prf_in,
     ssize_t                       desired_output_len,
     gss_buffer_t                  prf_out

   Additional major status codes for the C-bindings:



   See [RFC2744].

3.  IANA Considerations

   This document has no IANA considerations currently.  If and when a
   relevant IANA registry of GSS-API symbols is created then the generic
   and language-specific function names, constant names and constant
   values described above should be added to such a registry.

4.  Security Considerations

   Care should be taken in properly designing a mechanism's PRF

   GSS mechanisms' PRF functions should use a key derived from contexts'
   authenticated session keys and should preserve the forward security
   properties of the mechanisms' key exchanges.

   Some mechanisms may support the GSS PRF function with security
   contexts that are not fully established, but applications MUST assume
   that authentication, mutual or otherwise, has not completed until the
   security context is fully established.

   Callers of GSS_Pseudo_random() should avoid accidentally calling it
   with the same inputs.  One useful technique is to prepend to the
   prf_in input string, by convention, a string indicating the intended

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   purpose of the PRF output in such a way that unique contexts in which
   the function is called yield unique inputs to it.

   Pseudo-random functions are, by their nature, capable of producing
   only limited amounts of cryptographically secure output.  The exact
   amount of output that one can safely use, unfortunately, varies from
   one PRF to another (which prevents us from recommending specific
   numbers).  Because of this we recommend that unless you really know
   what you are doing (i.e. you are a cryptographer and are qualified to
   pass judgement on cryptographic functions in areas of period,
   presence of short cycles, etc), you limit the amount of the PRF
   output used to the necessary minimum.

   For some mechanisms the computational cost of computing
   GSS_Pseudo_random() may increase significantly as the length of the
   prf_in data and/or the desired_output_length increase.  This means
   that if an application can be tricked into providing very large input
   octet strings and requesting very long output octet strings then that
   may constitute a denial of service attack on the application;
   therefore applications SHOULD place appropriate limits on the size of
   any input octet strings received from their peers without integrity

5.  References

5.1  Normative References

   [GGM1]     Goldreich, O., Goldwasser, S., and S. Micali, "How to
              Construct Random Functions", October 1986.

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

   [RFC2743]  Linn, J., "Generic Security Service Application Program
              Interface Version 2, Update 1", RFC 2743, January 2000.

   [RFC2744]  Wray, J., "Generic Security Service API Version 2 :
              C-bindings", RFC 2744, January 2000.

5.2  Informative References

   [GGM2]     Goldreich, O., Goldwasser, S., and S. Micali, "On the
              Cryptographic Applications of Random Functions", 1985.

   [RFC1750]  Eastlake, D., Crocker, S., and J. Schiller, "Randomness
              Recommendations for Security", RFC 1750, December 1994.

   [RFC1964]  Linn, J., "The Kerberos Version 5 GSS-API Mechanism",

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              RFC 1964, June 1996.

Author's Address

   Nicolas Williams
   Sun Microsystems
   5300 Riata Trace Ct
   Austin, TX  78727


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Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2005).  This document is subject
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