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Document Type Active Internet-Draft (radext WG)
Author Alan DeKok
Last updated 2024-03-21 (Latest revision 2024-02-29)
Replaces draft-dekok-radext-tls-psk
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Intended RFC status Best Current Practice
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Stream WG state Submitted to IESG for Publication
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Sep 2023
TLS-PSK Best Practices
Document shepherd Valery Smyslov
Shepherd write-up Show Last changed 2024-02-29
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RADEXT Working Group                                            A. DeKok
Internet-Draft                                                FreeRADIUS
Intended status: Best Current Practice                  29 February 2024
Expires: 1 September 2024

                           RADIUS and TLS-PSK


   This document gives implementation and operational considerations for
   using TLS-PSK with RADIUS/TLS (RFC6614) and RADIUS/DTLS (RFC7360).
   The purpose of the document is to help smooth the operational
   transition from the use of the insecure RADIUS/UDP to the use of the
   much more secure RADIUS/TLS.

About This Document

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

   Status information for this document may be found at

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

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

Status of This Memo

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

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

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

   This Internet-Draft will expire on 1 September 2024.

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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2024 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

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

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   2.  Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   4.  General Discussion of PSKs and PSK Identities . . . . . . . .   4
     4.1.  Requirements on PSKs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
       4.1.1.  Interaction between PSKs and RADIUS Shared Secrets  .   6
     4.2.  PSK Identities  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
       4.2.1.  Security of PSK Identities  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     4.3.  PSK and PSK Identity Sharing  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   5.  Guidance for RADIUS Clients . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     5.1.  PSK Identities  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   6.  Guidance for RADIUS Servers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
     6.1.  Current Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     6.2.  Practices for TLS-PSK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
       6.2.1.  IP Filtering  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
       6.2.2.  PSK Authentication  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
       6.2.3.  Resumption  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
       6.2.4.  Interaction with other TLS authentication methods . .  17
   7.  Privacy Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
   8.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
   9.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
   10. Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   11. Changelog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   12. References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
     12.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
     12.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19

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1.  Introduction

   The previous specifications "Transport Layer Security (TLS)
   Encryption for RADIUS" [RFC6614] and "Datagram Transport Layer
   Security (DTLS) as a Transport Layer for RADIUS" [RFC7360] defined
   how (D)TLS can be used as a transport protocol for RADIUS.  However,
   those documents do not provide guidance for using TLS-PSK with
   RADIUS.  This document provides that missing guidance, and gives
   implementation and operational considerations.

   The purpose of the document is to help smooth the operational
   transition from the use of the insecure RADIUS/UDP to the use of the
   much more secure RADIUS/TLS.  While we recognize that using PSKs is
   often less preferable to using public / private keys, the operational
   model of PSKs follows the legacy RADIUS "shared secret" model.  As
   such, it can be easier for implementors and operators to transition
   to TLS when that transistion is offered as a series of small changes.

   Unless it is explicitly called out that a recommendation applies to
   TLS alone or to DTLS alone, each recommendation applies to both TLS
   and DTLS.

   This document uses "shared secret" to mean "RADIUS shared secret",
   and Pre-Shared Key (PSK) to mean secrets which are used with TLS-PSK.

2.  Terminology

   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.

3.  History

   TLS deployments usually rely on certificates in most common uses.
   However, we recognize that it may be difficult to fully upgrade
   client implementations to allow for certificates to be used with
   RADIUS/TLS and RADIUS/DTLS.  These upgrades involve not only
   implementing TLS, but can also require significant changes to
   administration interfaces and application programming interfaces
   (APIs) in order to fully support certificates.

   For example, unlike shared secrets, certificates expire.  This
   expiration means that a working system using TLS can suddenly stop
   working.  Managing this expiration can require additional
   notification APIs on RADIUS clients and servers which were previously
   not required when shared secrets were used.

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   Certificates also require the use of certification authorities (CAs),
   and chains of certificates.  RADIUS implementations using TLS
   therefore have to track not just a small shared secret, but also
   potentially many large certificates.  The use of TLS-PSK can
   therefore provide a simpler upgrade path for implementations to
   transition from RADIUS shared secrets to TLS.

4.  General Discussion of PSKs and PSK Identities

   Before we define any RADIUS-specific use of PSKs, we must first
   review the current standards for PSKs, and give general advice on
   PSKs and PSK identities.

   The requirements in this section apply to both client and server
   implementations which use TLS-PSK.  Client-specific and server-
   specific issues are discussed in more detail later in this document.

4.1.  Requirements on PSKs

   Reuse of a PSK in multiple versions of TLS (e.g.  TLS 1.2 and TLS
   1.3) is considered unsafe ([RFC8446], Appendix E.7).  Where TLS 1.3
   binds the PSK to a particular key derivation function, TLS 1.2 does
   not.  This binding means that it is possible to use the same PSK in
   different hashes, leading to the potential for attacking the PSK by
   comparing the hash outputs.  While there are no known insecurities,
   these uses are not known to be secure, and should therefore be

   [RFC9258] adds a key derivation function to the import interface of
   (D)TLS 1.3, which binds the externally provided PSK to the protocol
   version.  In particular, that document:

      ... describes a mechanism for importing PSKs derived from external
      PSKs by including the target KDF, (D)TLS protocol version, and an
      optional context string to ensure uniqueness.  This process yields
      a set of candidate PSKs, each of which are bound to a target KDF
      and protocol, that are separate from those used in (D)TLS 1.2 and
      prior versions.  This expands what would normally have been a
      single PSK and identity into a set of PSKs and identities.

   An implementation MUST NOT use the same PSK for TLS 1.3 and for
   earlier versions of TLS.  This requirement prevents reuse of a PSK
   with multiple TLS versions, which prevents the attacks discussed in
   [RFC8446], Appendix E.7.  The exact manner in which this requirement
   is enforced is implementation-specific.  One possibility is to have
   two different PSKs.  Another possibility is to forbid the use of TLS
   1.3, or to forbid the use of TLS versions less than TLS 1.3.

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   It is RECOMMENDED that systems follow the directions of [RFC9257],
   Section 6 for the use of external PSKs in TLS.  That document
   provides extremely useful guidance on generating and using PSKs.

   Implementations MUST support PSKs of at least 32 octets in length,
   and SHOULD support PSKs of 64 octets or more.  As the PSKs are
   generally hashed before being used in TLS, the useful entropy of a
   PSK is limited by the size of the hash output.  This output may be
   256, 384, or 512 bits in length.  Nevertheless, it is good practice
   for implementations to allow entry of PSKs of more than 64 octets, as
   the PSK may be in a form other than bare binary data.
   Implementations which limit the PSK to a maximum of 64 octets are
   likely to use PSKs which have much less than 512 bits of entropy.
   That is, a PSK with high entropy may be expanded via some construct
   (e.g. base32 as in the example below) in order to make it easier for
   people to interact with.  Where 512 bits of entropy are input to an
   encoding construct, the output may be larger than 64 octets.

   Implementations MUST require that PSKs be at least 16 octets in
   length, which SHOULD be derived from a source with at least 128 bits
   of entropy.  That is, short PSKs MUST NOT be permitted to be used,
   and PSKs MUST be random.  The strength of the PSK is not determined
   by the length of the PSK, but instead by the number of bits of
   entropy which it contains.  People are not good at creating data with
   high entropy, so a source of cryptographically secure random numbers
   MUST be used.

   Administrators SHOULD use PSKs of at least 24 octets, generated using
   a source of cryptographically secure random numbers.  Implementers
   needing a secure random number generator should see [RFC8937] for for
   further guidance.  PSKs are not passwords, and administrators should
   not try to manually create PSKs.

   Passwords are generally intended to be remembered and entered by
   people on a regular basis.  In contrast, PSKs are intended to be
   entered once, and then automatically saved in a system configuration.
   As such, due to the limited entropy of passwords, they are not
   acceptable for use with TLS-PSK, and would only be acceptable for use
   with a password-authenticated key exchange (PAKE) TLS method

   We also incorporate by reference the requirements of [RFC7360],
   Section 10.2 when using PSKs.

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   In order to guide Implementers, we give an example script below which
   generates random PSKs.  While the script is not portable to all
   possible systems, the intent here is to document a concise and simple
   method for creating PSKs which are both secure, and humanly

   #!/usr/bin/env python3
   import base64, secrets
   str = base64.b32encode(secrets.token_bytes(16)).decode().lower()
   print("-".join([str[i:i + 4] for i in range(0, len(str), 3)][0:7]))

   This script reads 128 bits (16 octets) of random data from a secure
   source, encodes it in Base32, and then formats it to be more humanly
   manageable.  The generated keys are of the form "yttb-4gv2-ynfk-jbjh-
   2dja-cj7e-am".  This form of PSK will be accepted by any
   implementation which supports at least 32 octets for PSKs.  Larger
   PSKs can be generated by passing larger values to the "urandom()"
   function.  The above derivation assumes that the random source
   returns one bit of entropy for every bit of randomness which is
   returned.  Sources failing that assumption are NOT RECOMMENDED.

4.1.1.  Interaction between PSKs and RADIUS Shared Secrets

   Any shared secret used for RADIUS/UDP or RADIUS/TLS MUST NOT be used
   for TLS-PSK.

   It is RECOMMENDED that RADIUS clients and servers track all used
   shared secrets and PSKs, and then verify that the following
   requirements all hold true:

   *  no shared secret is used for more than one RADIUS client

   *  no PSK is used for more than one RADIUS client

   *  no shared secret is used as a PSK

   Note that the shared secret of "radsec" given in [RFC6614] can be
   used across multiple clients, as that value is mandated by the
   specification.  The intention here is to recommend best practices for
   administrators who enter site-local shared secrets.

   There may be use-cases for using one shared secret across multiple
   RADIUS clients.  There may similarly be use-cases for sharing a PSK
   across multiple RADIUS clients.  Details of the possible attacks on
   reused PSKs are given in [RFC9257], Section 4.1.

   There are no known, use-cases for using a PSK as a shared secret, or

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   Implementations MUST reject configuration attempts that try to use
   the same value for PSK and shared secret.  To prevent administrative
   errors, implementations SHOULD NOT provide user interfaces which
   allow both PSKs and shared secrets to be entered at the same time.
   There is too much of a temptation for administrators to enter the
   same value in both fields, which would violate the limitations given
   above.  Implementations MUST NOT use a "shared secret" field as a way
   for administrators to enter PSKs.  The PSK entry fields MUST be
   labeled as being related to PSKs, and not to shared secrets.

4.2.  PSK Identities

   [RFC4279], Section 5.1 requires that PSK identities be encoded in
   UTF-8 format.  However, [RFC8446], Section 4.6.1 reuses PSKs and the
   PSK identity for resumption, and defines the ticket as:

      the value of the ticket to be used as the PSK identity.  The
      ticket itself is an opaque label.  It MAY be either a database
      lookup key or a self-encrypted and self-authenticated value.

   These definitions appear to be in conflict.  This conflict is
   addressed in [RFC9257], Section 6.1.1, which discusses requirements
   for encoding and comparison of PSK identities.  It is RECOMMENDED
   that systems follow the directions of [RFC9257], Section 6.1.1 when
   using PSK Identities for RADIUS/TLS.

   In general, implementors should allow for administratively
   provisioned PSK identities to follow [RFC4279] and be UTF-8, while
   PSK identities provisioned as part of resumption are automatically
   provisioned, and therefore follow [RFC8446].

   Note that the PSK identity is sent in the clear, and is therefore
   visible to attackers.  Where privacy is desired, the PSK identity
   could be either an opaque token generated cryptographically, or
   perhaps in the form of a Network Access Identifier (NAI) [RFC7542],
   where the "user" portion is an opaque token.  For example, an NAI
   could be "".  If the attacker already knows that
   the client is associated with "", then using that domain
   name in the PSK identity offers no additional information.  In
   contrast, the "user" portion needs to be both unique to the client
   and private, so using an opaque token there is a more secure

   Implementations MUST support PSK Identities of 128 octets, and SHOULD
   support longer PSK identities.  We note that while TLS provides for
   PSK identities of up to 2^16-1 octets in length, there are few
   practical uses for extremely long PSK identities.

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   It is up to administrators and implementations as to how they
   differentiate administratively provisioned PSK identities from
   automatically provisioned identities used in TLS 1.3 session tickets.
   One approach could be to have administratively provisioned identities
   contain an NAI such as described above, while session tickets contain
   large blobs of opaque, encrypted, and authenticated text.  It should
   then be relatively straightforward to differentiate the two types of
   identities.  One is UTF-8, the other is not.  One is not
   authenticated, the other is authenticated.

   Servers MUST assign and/or track session resumption identities in a
   way which facilities the ability to distinguish those identities from
   pre-configured ones ,and which enables them to both find and validate
   the session resumption ticket.

   A sample validation flow for TLS-PSK identities could be performed
   via the following steps:

      1.  PSK identities provided via an administration interface are
          enforced to be only UTF-8 on both client and server.

      2.  The client treats session tickets received from the server as
          opaque blobs.

      3.  When the server issues session tickets for resumption, the
          server ensures that they are not valid UTF-8.

      4.  One way to do this is to use stateless resumption with a
          forced non-UTF-8 key_name per [RFC5077], Section 4, such as by
          setting one octet to 0x00.

      5 When receiving TLS, the server receives Client-Hello containing
      a PSK, and checks if the identity is valid UTF-8.

         5.1.  If yes, it searches for a pre-configured client which
         matches that identity.

            5.1.1.  If the identity is found, authenticates the client
            via PSK.

            5.1.2. else the identity is invalid, and the server closes
            the connection.

         5.2 If the identity is not UTF-8, try resumption, which is
         usually be handled by a TLS library.

            5.2.1 If the TLS library verifies the session ticket,
            resumption has happened, and the connection is established.

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            5.2.2. else the server ignores the session ticker, and
            performs normal TLS handshake with a certificate.

   This validation flow is only suggested.  Other validation methods are

4.2.1.  Security of PSK Identities

   We note that the PSK identity is a field created by the connecting
   client.  Since the client is untrusted until both the identity and
   PSK have been verified, both of those fields MUST be treated as
   untrusted.  That is, a well-formed PSK Identity is likely to be in
   UTF-8 format, due to the requirements of [RFC4279], Section 5.1.
   However, implementations MUST support managing PSK identities as a
   set of undistinguished octets.

   It is not safe to use a raw PSK Identity to look up a corresponding
   PSK.  The PSK may come from an untrusted source, and may contain
   invalid or malicious data.  For example, the identity may have
   incorrect UTF-8 format; or it may contain data which forms an
   injection attack for SQL, LDAP, REST or shell meta characters; or it
   may contain embedded NUL octets which are incompatible with APIs
   which expect NUL terminated strings.  The identity may also be up to
   65535 octets long.

   As such, implementations MUST validate the identity prior to it being
   used as a lookup key.  When the identity is passed to an external API
   (e.g. database lookup), implementations MUST either escape any
   characters in the identity which are invalid for that API, or else
   reject the identity entirely.  The exact form of any escaping depends
   on the API, and we cannot document all possible methods here.
   However, a few basic validation rules are suggested, as outlined
   below.  Any identity which is rejected by these validation rules
   SHOULD cause the server to close the TLS connection.

   The suggested validation rules for identities used outside of
   resumption are as follows:

   *  Identities longer than a fixed maximum SHOULD be rejected.  The
      limit is implementation dependent, but SHOULD NOT be less than
      128, and SHOULD NOT be more than 1024.

   *  Identities SHOULD be in UTF-8 format.  Identities with embedded
      control characters, NUL octets, etc.  SHOULD NOT be used.

   *  Where the NAI format is expected, identities which are not in NAI
      format SHOULD be rejected

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   It is RECOMMENDED that implementations extend these rules with any
   additional validation which are found to be useful.  For example,
   implementations and/or deployments could both generate PSK identities
   in a particular format for passing to client systems, and then also
   verify that any received identity matches that format.  For example,
   a site could generate PSK identities which are composed of characters
   in the local language.  The site could then reject identities which
   contain characters from other languages, even if those characters are
   valid UTF-8.

4.3.  PSK and PSK Identity Sharing

   While administrators may desire to share PSKs and/or PSK identities
   across multiple systems, such usage is NOT RECOMMENDED.  Details of
   the possible attacks on reused PSKs are given in [RFC9257],
   Section 4.1.

   Implementations MUST be able to configure a unique PSK and PSK
   identity for each possible client-server relationship.  This
   configuration allows administrators desiring security to use unique
   PSKs for each such relationship.  This configuration also allows
   administrators to re-use PSKs and PSK Identities where local policies

   Implementations SHOULD warn administrators if the same PSK identity
   and/or PSK is used for multiple client-server relationships.

5.  Guidance for RADIUS Clients

   Client implementations MUST allow the use of a pre-shared key (TLS-
   PSK) for RADIUS/TLS.  The client implementation can then expose a
   user interface flag which is "TLS yes / no", and then also fields
   which ask for the PSK identity and PSK itself.

   For TLS 1.3, Implementations MUST support "psk_dhe_ke" Pre-Shared Key
   Exchange Mode in TLS 1.3 as discussed in [RFC8446], Section 4.2.9 and
   in [RFC9257], Section 6.  Implementations MUST implement the
   recommended cipher suites in [RFC9325], Section 4.2 for TLS 1.2, and
   in [RFC8446], Section 9.1 for TLS 1.3.  In order to future-proof
   these recommendations, we give the following recommendations:

   *  Implementations SHOULD use the "Recommended" cipher suites listed
      in the IANA "TLS Cipher Suites" registry,

      -  for TLS 1.3, the use "psk_dhe_ke" PSK key exchange mode,

      -  for TLS 1.2 and earlier, use cipher suites which require
         ephemeral keying.

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   If a client initiated a connection using a PSK with TLS 1.3 by
   including the pre-shared key extension, it MUST close the connection
   if the server did not also select the pre-shared key to continue the

5.1.  PSK Identities

   [RFC6614] is silent on the subject of PSK identities, which is an
   issue that we correct here.  Guidance is required on the use of PSK
   identities, as the need to manage identities associated with PSK is a
   new requirement for NAS management interfaces, and is a new
   requirement for RADIUS servers.

   RADIUS systems implementing TLS-PSK MUST support identities as per
   [RFC4279], Section 5.3, and MUST enable configuring TLS-PSK
   identities in management interfaces as per [RFC4279], Section 5.4.

   The historic methods of signing RADIUS packets have not yet been
   cracked, but they are believed to be much less secure than modern
   TLS.  Therefore, when a RADIUS shared secret is used to sign RADIUS/
   UDP or RADIUS/TCP packets, that shared secret MUST NOT be used with
   TLS-PSK.  If the secrets were to be reused, then an attack on
   historic RADIUS cryptography could be trivially leveraged to decrypt
   TLS-PSK sessions.  Therefore in order to prevent confusion between
   shared secrets and TLS-PSKs, management interfaces and APIs need to
   label PSK fields as "PSK" or "TLS-PSK", rather than as "shared

   With TLS-PSK, RADIUS/TLS clients MUST permit the configuration of a
   RADIUS server IP address or host name, because dynamic server lookups
   [RFC7585] can only be used if servers use certificates.

6.  Guidance for RADIUS Servers

   In order to support clients with TLS-PSK, server implementations MUST
   allow the use of a pre-shared key (TLS-PSK) for RADIUS/TLS.

   For TLS 1.3, Implementations MUST support "psk_dhe_ke" Pre-Shared Key
   Exchange Mode in TLS 1.3 as discussed in [RFC8446], Section 4.2.9 and
   in [RFC9257], Section 6.  Implementations MUST implement the
   recommended cipher suites in [RFC9325], Section 4.2 for TLS 1.2, and
   in [RFC8446], Section 9.1 for TLS 1.3.  In order to future-proof
   these recommendations, we give the following recommendations:

   *  Implementations SHOULD use the "Recommended" cipher suites listed
      in the IANA "TLS Cipher Suites" registry,

      -  for TLS 1.3, the use "psk_dhe_ke" PSK key exchange mode,

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      -  for TLS 1.2 and earlier, use cipher suites which require
         ephemeral keying.

   The following section(s) describe guidance for RADIUS server
   implementations and deployments.  We first give an overview of
   current practices, and then extend and/or replace those practices for

6.1.  Current Practices

   RADIUS identifies clients by source IP address ([RFC2865] and
   [RFC6613]) or by client certificate ([RFC6614] and [RFC7585]).
   Neither of these approaches work for TLS-PSK.  This section describes
   current practices and mandates behavior for servers which use TLS-

   A RADIUS/UDP server is typically configured with a set of information
   per client, which includes at least the source IP address and shared
   secret.  When the server receives a RADIUS/UDP packet, it looks up
   the source IP address, finds a client definition, and therefore the
   shared secret.  The packet is then authenticated (or not) using that
   shared secret.

   That is, the IP address is treated as the clients identity, and the
   shared secret is used to prove the clients authenticity and shared
   trust.  The set of clients forms a logical database "client table",
   with the IP address as the key.

   A server may be configured with additional site-local policies
   associated with that client.  For example, a client may be marked up
   as being a WiFi Access Point, or a VPN concentrator, etc.  Different
   clients may be permitted to send different kinds of requests, where
   some may send Accounting-Request packets, and other clients may not
   send accounting packets.

6.2.  Practices for TLS-PSK

   We define practices for TLS-PSK by analogy with the RADIUS/UDP use-
   case, and by extending the additional policies associated with the
   client.  The PSK identity replaces the source IP address as the
   client identifier.  The PSK replaces the shared secret as proof of
   client authenticity and shared trust.  However, systems implementing
   RADIUS/TLS [RFC6614] and RADIUS/DTLS [RFC7360] MUST still use the
   shared secret as discussed in those specifications.  Any PSK is only
   used by the TLS layer, and has no effect on the RADIUS data which is
   being transported.  That is, the RADIUS data transported in a TLS
   tunnel is the same no matter if client authentication is done via PSK
   or by client certificates.  The encoding of the RADIUS data is

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   entirely unaffected by the use (or not) of PSKs and client

   In order to securely support dynamic source IP addresses for clients,
   we also require that servers limit clients based on a network range.
   The alternative would be to suggest that RADIUS servers allow any
   source IP address to connect and try TLS-PSK, which could be a
   security risk.  When RADIUS servers do no source IP address
   filtering, it is easier for attackers to send malicious traffic to
   the server.  An issue with a TLS library or even a TCP/IP stack could
   permit the attacker to gain unwarranted access.  In contrast, when IP
   address filtering is done, attackers generally must first gain access
   to a secure network before attacking the RADIUS server.

   Even where [RFC7585] dynamic discovery is not used, servers SHOULD
   NOT permit TLS-PSK to be used across the wider Internet.  The intent
   for TLS-PSK is for it to be used in internal / secured networks,
   where clients come from a small number of known locations.  In
   contrast, certificates can be generated and assigned to clients
   without any interaction with the RADIUS server.  Therefore if the
   RADIUS server needs to accept connections from clients at unknown
   locations, a more secure method is to use client certificates.

   If a client system is compromised, its complete configuration is
   exposed to the attacker.  Exposing a client certificate means that
   the attacker can pretend to be the client.  In contrast, exposing a
   PSK means that the attacker can not only pretend to be the client,
   but can also pretend to be the server.

   The benefits of TLS-PSK are in easing management and in
   administrative overhead, not in securing traffic from resourceful
   attackers.  Where TLS-PSK is used across the Internet, PSKs MUST
   contain at least 256 bits of entropy.

   For example, a RADIUS server could be configured to be accept
   connections from a source network of  The server could
   therefore discard any TLS connection request which comes from a
   source IP address outside of that network.  In that case, there is no
   need to examine the PSK identity or to find the client definition.
   Instead, the IP source filtering policy would deny the connection
   before any TLS communication had been performed.

   RADIUS servers need to be able to limit certain PSK identifiers to
   certain network ranges or IP addresses.  That is, if a NAS is known
   to have a dynamic IP address within a particular subnet, the server
   should limit use of the NASes PSK to that subnet.  This filtering can
   therefore help to catch configuration errors.

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   As some clients may have dynamic IP addresses, it is possible for a
   one PSK identity to appear at different source IP addresses over
   time.  In addition, as there may be many clients behind one NAT
   gateway, there may be multiple RADIUS clients using one public IP
   address.  RADIUS servers need to support multiple PSK identifiers at
   one source IP address.

   That is, a server needs to support multiple different clients within
   one network range, multiple clients behind a NAT, and one client
   having different IP addresses over time.  All of those use-cases are
   common and necessary.

   The following section describes these requirements in more detail.

6.2.1.  IP Filtering

   A server supporting this specification MUST perform IP address
   filtering on incoming connections.  There are few reasons for a
   server to have a default configuration which allows connections from
   any source IP address.

   A TLS-PSK server MUST be configurable with a set of "allowed" network
   ranges from which clients are permitted to connect.  Any connection
   from outside of the allowed range(s) MUST be rejected before any PSK
   identity is checked.  It is RECOMMENDED that servers support IP
   address filtering even when TLS-PSK is not used.

   The "allowed" network ranges could be implemented as a global list,
   or one or more network ranges could be tied to a client or clients.
   The intent here is to allow connections to be filtered by source IP,
   and to allow clients to be limited to a subset of network addresses.
   The exact method and representation of that filtering is up to an

   Conceptually, the set of IP addresses and ranges, along with
   permitted clients and their credentials forms a logical "client
   table" which the server uses to both filter and authenticate clients.
   The client table should contain information such as allowed network
   ranges, PSK identity and associated PSK, credentials for another TLS
   authentication method, or flags which indicate that the server should
   require a client certificate.

   Once a server receives a connection, it checks the source IP address
   against the list of all allowed IP addresses or ranges in the client
   table.  If none match, the connection MUST be rejected.  That is, the
   connection MUST be from an authorized source IP address.

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   Once a connection has been established, the server MUST NOT process
   any application data inside of the TLS tunnel until the client has
   been authenticated.  Instead, the server normally receives a TLS-PSK
   identity from the client.  The server then uses this identity to look
   up the client in the client table.  If there is no matching client,
   the server MUST close the connection.  The server then also checks if
   this client definition allows this particular source IP address.  If
   the source IP address is not allowed, the server MUST close the

   Where the server does not receive TLS-PSK from the client, it
   proceeds with another authentication method such as client
   certificates.  Such requirements are discussed elsewhere, most
   notably in [RFC6614] and [RFC7360].

   An implementation may perform two independent IP address lookups.
   First, to check if the connection allowed at all, and second to check
   if the connection is authorized for this particular client.  One or
   both checks may be used by a particular implementation.  The two sets
   of IP addresses can overlap, and implementations SHOULD support that

   Depending on the implementation, one or more clients may share a list
   of allowed network ranges.  Alternately, the allowed network ranges
   for two clients can overlap only partially, or not at all.  All of
   these possibilities MUST be supported by the server implementation.

6.2.2.  PSK Authentication

   Once the source IP has been verified to be allowed for this
   particular client, the server authenticates the TLS connection via
   the PSK taken from the client definition.  If the PSK is verified,
   the server then accepts the connection, and proceeds with RADIUS/TLS
   as per [RFC6614].

   If the PSK is not verified, then the server MUST close the
   connection.  While TLS provides for fallback to other authentication
   methods such as client certificates, there is no reason for a client
   to be configured simultaneously with multiple authentication methods.

   A client MUST use only one authentication method for TLS.  An
   authentication method is either TLS-PSK, client certificates, or some
   other method supported by TLS.

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   That is, client configuration is relatively simple: use a particular
   set of credentials to authenticate to a particular server.  While
   clients may support multiple servers and fail-over or load-balancing,
   that configuration is generally orthogonal to the choice of which
   credentials to use.

6.2.3.  Resumption

   Implementations SHOULD support resumption.  In many cases session
   tickets can be authenticated solely by the server, and do not require
   querying a database.  The use of resumption can allow the system to
   better scale to higher loads.

   However, the above discussion of PSK identities is complicated by the
   use of PSKs for resumption in TLS 1.3.  A server which receives a PSK
   identity via TLS typically cannot query the TLS layer to see if this
   identity is for a resumed session, or is instead a static pre-
   provisioned identity.  This confusion complicates server

   One way for a server to tell the difference between the two kinds of
   identities is via construction.  Identities used for resumption can
   be constructed via a fixed format, such as recommended by [RFC5077],
   Section 4.  A static pre-provisioned identity could be in format of
   an NAI, as given in [RFC7542].  An implementation could therefore
   examine the incoming identity, and determine from the identity alone
   what kind of authentication was being performed.

   An alternative way for a server to distinguish the two kinds of
   identities is to maintain two tables.  One table would contain static
   identities, as the logical client table described above.  Another
   table could be the table of identities handed out for resumption.
   The server would then look up any PSK identity in one table, and if
   not found, query the other one.  An identity would be found in a
   table, in which case it can be authenticated.  Or, the identity would
   not be found in either table, in which case it is unknown, and the
   server MUST close the connection.

   As suggested in [RFC8446], TLS-PSK peers MUST NOT store resumption
   PSKs or tickets (and associated cached data) for longer than 604800
   seconds (7 days) regardless of the PSK or ticket lifetime.

   Systems supporting TLS-PSK and resumption MUST cache data during the
   initial full handshake sufficient to allow authorization decisions to
   be made during resumption.  If cached data cannot be retrieved
   securely, resumption MUST NOT be done.  The cached data is typically
   information such as the original PSK identity, along with any
   policies associated with that identity.

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   Information from the original TLS exchange (e.g., the original PSK
   identity) as well as related information (e.g., source IP addresses)
   may change between the initial full handshake and resumption.  This
   change creates a "time-of-check time-of-use" (TOCTOU) security
   vulnerability.  A malicious or compromised client could supply one
   set of data during the initial authentication, and a different set of
   data during resumption, potentially allowing them to obtain access
   that they should not have.

   If any authorization or policy decisions were made with information
   that has changed between the initial full handshake and resumption,
   and if change may lead to a different decision, such decisions MUST
   be reevaluated.  It is RECOMMENDED that authorization and policy
   decisions are reevaluated based on the information given in the
   resumption.  TLS-PSK servers MAY reject resumption where the
   information supplied during resumption does not match the information
   supplied during the original authentication.  If a safe decision is
   not possible, TLS-PSK servers SHOULD reject the resumption and
   continue with a full handshake.

6.2.4.  Interaction with other TLS authentication methods

   When a server supports both TLS-PSK and client certificates, it MUST
   be able to accept authenticated connections from clients which may
   use either type of credentials, perhaps even from the same source IP
   address and at the same time.  That is, servers are required to both
   authenticate the client, and also to filter clients by source IP
   address.  These checks both have to match in order for a client to be

7.  Privacy Considerations

   We make no changes over [RFC6614] and [RFC7360].

8.  Security Considerations

   The primary focus of this document is addressing security
   considerations for RADIUS.

9.  IANA Considerations

   There are no IANA considerations in this document.

   RFC Editor: This section may be removed before final publication.

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10.  Acknowledgments

   Thanks to the many reviewers in the RADEXT working group for positive

11.  Changelog

   *  00 - initial version

   *  01 - update examples

12.  References

12.1.  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,

   [RFC2865]  Rigney, C., Willens, S., Rubens, A., and W. Simpson,
              "Remote Authentication Dial In User Service (RADIUS)",
              RFC 2865, DOI 10.17487/RFC2865, June 2000,

   [RFC4279]  Eronen, P., Ed. and H. Tschofenig, Ed., "Pre-Shared Key
              Ciphersuites for Transport Layer Security (TLS)",
              RFC 4279, DOI 10.17487/RFC4279, December 2005,

   [RFC6614]  Winter, S., McCauley, M., Venaas, S., and K. Wierenga,
              "Transport Layer Security (TLS) Encryption for RADIUS",
              RFC 6614, DOI 10.17487/RFC6614, May 2012,

   [RFC7360]  DeKok, A., "Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) as a
              Transport Layer for RADIUS", RFC 7360,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7360, September 2014,

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

   [RFC9257]  Housley, R., Hoyland, J., Sethi, M., and C. A. Wood,
              "Guidance for External Pre-Shared Key (PSK) Usage in TLS",
              RFC 9257, DOI 10.17487/RFC9257, July 2022,

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   [RFC9325]  Sheffer, Y., Saint-Andre, P., and T. Fossati,
              "Recommendations for Secure Use of Transport Layer
              Security (TLS) and Datagram Transport Layer Security
              (DTLS)", BCP 195, RFC 9325, DOI 10.17487/RFC9325, November
              2022, <>.

12.2.  Informative References

   [RFC5077]  Salowey, J., Zhou, H., Eronen, P., and H. Tschofenig,
              "Transport Layer Security (TLS) Session Resumption without
              Server-Side State", RFC 5077, DOI 10.17487/RFC5077,
              January 2008, <>.

   [RFC6613]  DeKok, A., "RADIUS over TCP", RFC 6613,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC6613, May 2012,

   [RFC7542]  DeKok, A., "The Network Access Identifier", RFC 7542,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7542, May 2015,

   [RFC7585]  Winter, S. and M. McCauley, "Dynamic Peer Discovery for
              RADIUS/TLS and RADIUS/DTLS Based on the Network Access
              Identifier (NAI)", RFC 7585, DOI 10.17487/RFC7585, October
              2015, <>.

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

   [RFC8492]  Harkins, D., Ed., "Secure Password Ciphersuites for
              Transport Layer Security (TLS)", RFC 8492,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC8492, February 2019,

   [RFC8937]  Cremers, C., Garratt, L., Smyshlyaev, S., Sullivan, N.,
              and C. Wood, "Randomness Improvements for Security
              Protocols", RFC 8937, DOI 10.17487/RFC8937, October 2020,

   [RFC9258]  Benjamin, D. and C. A. Wood, "Importing External Pre-
              Shared Keys (PSKs) for TLS 1.3", RFC 9258,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC9258, July 2022,

Author's Address

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   Alan DeKok

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