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Finding the Kerberos Realm of a Service in DNS

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This is an older version of an Internet-Draft whose latest revision state is "Expired".
Author Rick van Rein
Last updated 2014-10-19
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Network Working Group                                        R. Van Rein
Intended status: Experimental                           October 19, 2014
Expires: April 22, 2015

             Finding the Kerberos Realm of a Service in DNS


   This specification defines methods to determine realm names for
   services being contacted by their DNS name.  Currently, finding realm
   names is done through guessing or local configuration.  DNS can make
   this process more dynamic, provided that DNSSEC is used to ensure
   authenticity of resource records.

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
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   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 April 22, 2015.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2014 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
   ( in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
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   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.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Kerberos TXT record syntax  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  Defining Home Records and Home Tags . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   4.  Querying Realm Descriptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     4.1.  Querying a Domain's Realm Descriptions  . . . . . . . . .   4
     4.2.  Querying a Host's Realm Descriptions  . . . . . . . . . .   5
   5.  Publishing Realm Descriptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   6.  Realm Descriptor Tags . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     6.1.  Realm Descriptor Tag "realm"  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     6.2.  Realm Descriptor tag "service"  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     6.3.  Realm Descriptor Tag "user" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   7.  Efficiency Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   8.  Privacy Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   9.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   10. IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   11. References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     11.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     11.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11

1.  Introduction

   When a client contacts a Kerberised service, it needs to obtain a
   service ticket, and for that it needs to contact the realm under
   which the service is run.  To map a service name into a realm name
   and then into a KDC, the client uses local mappings, or it can
   contact its KDC which look into its local mappings.  Through DNS,
   such mappings could be dynamically expanded, thus permitting more
   flexibility without explicit configuration.

   There are two important mappings that are needed for the given
   scenario.  One is a mapping from the FQDN of a service to its realm
   name; the other is a mapping from the realm name to the
   Kerberos5-specific services such as the KDC.  The latter mapping is
   published in SRV records [RFC4120] and the traffic is protected by
   the protocols themselves.  The first mapping however, has never been
   standardised and are ill-advised because unsecured DNS cannot be
   considered a reliable source.

   With the recent rise of DNSSEC however, it is possible to make a
   reliable judgement on the authenticity of such data, which enables
   the standardisation of the first mapping in the form of TXT records
   in DNS.  This specification defines how to publish and process such

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   Each TXT record holds of a series of tagged string values.  A few of
   these are defined below, others may be added by future

2.  Kerberos TXT record syntax

   The TXT record for Kerberos is a simple sequence of ABNF terminals:

   "v" "=" "krb1" *( ";" tag "=" value )

   The initial v=krb1 is used as a hint to applications that this
   specification is followed.  Space and tab character sequences after
   terminals are ignored; a tag is a sequence of letters, digits, dashes
   and underscores; a value is anything but whitespace or semicolons.
   Note that the entire TXT record is case-insensitive.  TODO: Really?
   "The ASCII case insensitivity conventions only apply to ASCII labels"
   [Section 3.2 of [RFC4343]]

   When a TXT record does not adhere to this syntax, it MUST NOT be
   processed as described in this specification, but this MUST NOT be
   fatal to the processing of other TXT records.  When the initial
   v=krb1 matches the syntax but the rest does not, then a processing
   application MAY release a warning message.

   Tags are registered with IANA, and this document defines the first
   few.  New additions are always optional.  An application that does
   not recognise a tag name MUST silently discard it.

   Multiple TXT records may be supplied under a queried name, and there
   may be multiple that adhere to this syntax; these present
   alternatives that can be tried.  Since DNS does not supply them in
   any order, the DNS client can choose freely in what order to process
   these records.  When no TXT record adheres to this syntax, then no
   alternative is available through DNS.

3.  Defining Home Records and Home Tags

   The TXT records defined here may be used to define realm names that
   do not look similar to the FQDN at which it is found.  Other TXT
   records may define one domain-styled [Section 6.1 of [RFC4120]] realm
   name that translates back to the FQDN at which the TXT record was
   found.  The latter category of TXT record is called a "home record"
   in this specification.

   TXT records which are not home records can be used to reference from
   a DNS name to a realm that maps onto another DNS name.  The use of
   DNSSEC makes this safe; the same party that masters the server
   settings also determines the authentication service to use.

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   Some tags may be defined to be used in home record only.  Such tags
   are defined by the term "home tags".  Specification whether a tag is
   a home tag is intended to avoid claims about realms being made
   outside its control.

4.  Querying Realm Descriptions

   The following subsections define two procedures for finding a
   Kerberos realm.  One procedure starts from a domain name, the other
   starts from the hostame of a server.

   When dealing with services found through DNS SRV [RFC 2782], a choice
   between the use of a domain name or hostname is possible.  In these
   situations, the FQDN of the SRV queries MUST be used in the procedure
   for domain name queries.

   Since DNS in general cannot be considered secure, the client MUST
   dismiss any DNS responses that are not Insecure, Bogus or
   Indeterminite [Section 5 of [RFC4033]].  Only Secure responses are
   taken into account.  This specification does not prescribe that the
   client validates the responses by itself, but the deployment used
   SHOULD NOT accept validation states of DNS responses from a reliable
   validating source over unreliable communication channels.

   The result may contain TXT records that do not adhere to the syntax
   of this specification; such TXT records MUST be removed from the
   result.  Within the syntax, there may be tags that are unknown; such
   tags and their value MUST be ignored when further processing the
   results.  Finally, some tags are defined as "home tags", and those
   MUST be ignored if the TXT record is not a home record.

   When no Secure DNS responses are received, this procedure MUST be
   terminated without extracting realm descriptive information from DNS.
   Such termination need not be fatal; other procedures may exist to
   find a realm name.

4.1.  Querying a Domain's Realm Descriptions

   To find the Kerberos realm definition for a domain name, a DNS client
   conducts a TXT query targeted at the domain name.

   Where this specification speaks of querying a domain, its
   interpretation of a domain is that of a name space, which may or may
   not have a host attached, but which is likely to have services
   attached, for instance through MX or SRV records.  Domain names also
   occur in many naming schemes after an optional username and @ symbol,
   such as the domain name (that also happens to be termed "realm", but

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   without connection to Kerberos realms) in a Network Access Identifier

4.2.  Querying a Host's Realm Descriptions

   The query of a hostname may be done at two levels, namely the
   hostname itself and the apex of the zone holding the hostname.  The
   latter requires a signed denial for the hostname; the signature of
   this denial holds a field named the "Signer's Name" which must
   contain the zone name [Section 3.1.7 of [RFC4034]], which is used for
   the second query if the name differs from the initial hostname.

   Note that most name servers will also return a SOA record with a
   negative response; this addition however, is not guaranteed and it
   may be removed from the response due to frame size constraints.  This
   is why the SOA record is not preferred for finding the secondary

5.  Publishing Realm Descriptions

   The default position for realm-descriptive TXT records is in the apex
   of a zone.  These may be home records, but that is not a requirement;
   it is possible to authenticate multiple domain names with a single
   Kerberos realm.

   It is possible to override entries underneath the zone apex.  This
   may be done for individual host names, or through a wildcard that
   catches a range of undefined names.  Note that wildcards receive
   special treatment [RFC4592] when used with DNSSEC, but that they are

   The various entries in DNS override each other in a particular order;
   the zone apex is the fallback default; wildcards cator to unspecific
   subordinate names, and an accurately matched hostname has the highest

   Note that a domain is not always the same as a zone apex.  So, when
   querying a domain name as specified in Section 4.1, there will be no
   fallback to a zone apex.  An entry similar to the one in a zone apex
   should then be defined; and similarly, it may be overridden with
   wildcards and hostnames that define subordinate DNS names.

   The syntax supports TXT records that define no realm at all.  These
   are interpreted as the absense of Kerberos for the given name.

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6.  Realm Descriptor Tags

   The names of tags fall apart in two types:

   o  "General tags" can be used in any v=krb1 TXT records;

   o  "Home tags" can only be used in TXT records that describe a realm
      that matches the FQDN of the TXT record.

   When home tags occur in a TXT record that does not define a realm
   name that matches the FQDN of the TXT record, then these home tags
   MUST be ignored.

6.1.  Realm Descriptor Tag "realm"

   The tag "realm" MAY be present in all TXT records that adhere to this
   specification, and it MUST be processed by implementations of this

   The value of a "realm" tag names a realm connected to the TXT
   record's FQDN.  Since the content of a TXT record is case-
   insensitive, a mapping to case-sensitive realm names is needed.  In
   this mapping, a realm-value letter is mapped to a lowercase letter if
   it is preceded by an equals sign and mapped to an uppercase letter if
   not; equals signs are not mapped to realm characters; all other
   characters are mapped without modification.  The result MUST be a
   domain-style realm name [Section 6.1 of [RFC4120] to be accepted for
   further processing along the lines of this specification.

   When multiple "realm" tags occur in one TXT record, then they present
   alternative suggestions to combine with all other tags in the same
   TXT record.  Note that a TXT record with multiple "realm" tags is
   never a home record.

   The absense of a "realm" tag in a TXT record conforms to this
   specification; it does not provide any realm names for the given FQDN
   in DNS.  One such TXT record can be used to specify the absense of
   Kerberos tickets for the FQDN of that TXT record; this can be used to
   override TXT records in a wildcard or at the zone apex.

   An example use of the "realm" tag in a TXT record is  IN TXT "v=krb1; realm=EXAMPLE.COM"

   Since the FQDN of this TXT record is, this TXT record may
   also hold home tags.

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   In addtion to the previous example, the following tag indicates that
   there is no realm, and so it is useless to lookup a Kerberos ticket
   for  IN TXT "v=krb1"

6.2.  Realm Descriptor tag "service"

   The tag "service" MAY be present in any TXT record that adheres to
   this specification, and it SHOULD be recognised by implementations of
   this specification.  The tag is optional.

   The value of a "service" tag is the name of a service, as used in
   principal names.  This can be used as a hint to clients that need to
   match service tags.  The occurrence of a service tag and a realm tag
   in the same TXT record may be read to suggest that a principal ticket
   for the combination exists.  Since service names are used to match,
   and act as a hint, their representation without case in DNS is not a
   problem; they are matched through case-insensitive comparison.

   The purpose of this tag is to enable clients an early selection
   between alternatives that it may wish to pursue; adding a service tag
   may improve the speed of resolution when multilple alternatives are
   listed in DNS, especially when future initatives would require public
   key cryptography for realm crossover.  Since the tag is optional and
   its presence may not lead to a single combination of realm, service
   and FQDN, clients must still be prepared to iterate over

   When multiple "service" tags occur in one TXT record, then they
   present alternative suggestions to combine with all other tags in the
   same TXT record.  The set is then to be considered complete; that is,
   when one or more "service" tags occur but none matches to a service
   that a client requires, then the realm description in that TXT record
   does not apply.

   An example use of this tag in a TXT record is  IN TXT "v=krb1;;; service=http; service=ftp"

   This would match with the following principal names:

   o  HTTP/

   o  HTTP/

   o  ftp/

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   o  ftp/

   A service named "krbtgt" is not offered for this service name, as far
   as this TXT record is concerned.

6.3.  Realm Descriptor Tag "user"

   TODO: Also define a "user" tag?  RFC 3645 uses DNS@ krb4-style names,
   but in general I doubt if users should occur in DNS?

7.  Efficiency Considerations

   The TXT records introduced in this specification are useful to define
   realm names for servers whose DNS information is not statically
   configured in a Kerberos setup.  This may release the pressure on
   such local configurations, and it may introduce more dynamicity,
   which may be useful for such things as realm crossover.

   Since realm names cannot always be derived from DNS names, clients
   tend to construct various principal names by attaching all the realm
   names that they can think of, and attempting to obtain a service
   ticket for each in turn, until one is found.  The KDC may also
   perform such actions, and return a reference [RFC6806] to a realm for
   consideration.  In general, the list of service ticket names that may
   be considered can be relatively long.

   Limiting the length of the list of ticket requests is going to be
   especially useful for situations with realm crossover when this
   involves public-key cryptography, as such algorithms are much slower
   than the symmetric algorithms normally used for Kerberos.

   The use of "realm" tags can help the client to focus on those realms
   for which a service has a name defined.  Similarly, the use of
   "service" tags is helpful to select only those TXT records that hold
   the service name sought by an application.  The presence of multiple
   "realm" and/or multiple "service" tags in one TXT record enables
   iteration over multiple combinations, without a need to store the
   resulting cartesian product in DNS.

8.  Privacy Considerations

   It is common to spread service information in DNS, but for internal
   use this may be considered less desirable.  This is why the "service"
   tag, as specified in Section 6.2, is optional.

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9.  Security Considerations

   This specification defines a mechanism to redirect from a FQDN to a
   realm that may be located elsewhere, or to indicate that no realm is
   available for that FQDN.  Publishing such a realm definition is the
   prerogative of the service administrator, and is therefore well-
   positioned in a DNS record at the same FQDN as the service, or at its
   zone apex.

   However, when an attacker would be permitted to spoof such a record
   in a victim's DNS, then it could be possible for the attacker to
   convince the client that the attacker is the authentic provider for
   the service.  Additional spoofing of hostname references could then
   complete the attack.  This has been mitigated by requiring DNSSEC for
   all such TXT records.

   Another angle of attack could be due to suppression of a TXT record,
   for instance for a hostname.  Such attacks could direct a client to
   rely on the information stored in the zone apex, which may differ
   from an overridden value that is less desirable to the attacker.
   Such attacks have been mitigated by insisting on signed denials, and
   by stating that a non-responsive DNS server should not lead to the
   assumption that one can move up in the DNS hierarchy.

   The process of finding the zone apex relies on a strict prescription
   in DNSSEC standards.  The field from which it is taken is
   incorporated into the RRSIG record that holds it TODO:check, so this
   does not provide an opening to redirect the TXT queries to a domain
   of choice either.

   The ability to create a TXT record that references a realm operated
   under another DNS name introduces a potential of setting flags for
   that remote realm that may be counter-productive.  Given the open-
   endedness of the registry for these, problems due to this are
   mitigated by ignoring unknown tags, and treating known tags
   differently when they are registered as "home" tags; such tags are
   not processed for references to realms operated under another DNS

10.  IANA Considerations

   This specification establishes a new registry with IANA, whose
   entries are subject to expert review and whose definition must be
   described in a publicly available specification.  The new registry
   will be known as the "Kerberos DNS TXT Tag Registry".  Each entry
   must provide a flag to indicate if the tag may only be interpreted in
   home tags.

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   The initial entries for this new registry introduced by this
   specification are:

         | Tag name | Home tag? | Definition                     |
         | v        | N/A       | Not to be used [TBD:THIS-SPEC] |
         | realm    | No        | [TBD:THIS-SPEC]                |
         | service  | No        | [TBD:THIS-SPEC]                |

   Tag names are case-insensitive.  The tag name "v" is reserved, and
   shall not be assigned.

   In addition to the foregoing, tag names starting with "x-" are
   reserved for experimental use, for which no registration is possible,
   or required.  For these unregistered tags there will be no protection
   from name clashes.

11.  References

11.1.  Normative References

   [RFC4033]  Arends, R., Austein, R., Larson, M., Massey, D., and S.
              Rose, "DNS Security Introduction and Requirements", RFC
              4033, March 2005.

   [RFC4034]  Arends, R., Austein, R., Larson, M., Massey, D., and S.
              Rose, "Resource Records for the DNS Security Extensions",
              RFC 4034, March 2005.

   [RFC4120]  Neuman, C., Yu, T., Hartman, S., and K. Raeburn, "The
              Kerberos Network Authentication Service (V5)", RFC 4120,
              July 2005.

   [RFC4343]  Eastlake, D., "Domain Name System (DNS) Case Insensitivity
              Clarification", RFC 4343, January 2006.

   [RFC4592]  Lewis, E., "The Role of Wildcards in the Domain Name
              System", RFC 4592, July 2006.

11.2.  Informative References

   [RFC6806]  Hartman, S., Raeburn, K., and L. Zhu, "Kerberos Principal
              Name Canonicalization and Cross-Realm Referrals", RFC
              6806, November 2012.

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   [RFC4282]  Aboba, B., Beadles, M., Arkko, J., and P. Eronen, "The
              Network Access Identifier", RFC 4282, December 2005.

Author's Address

   Rick van Rein
   Haarlebrink 5
   Enschede, Overijssel  7544 WP
   The Netherlands


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