Network Working Group                                           J. Arkko
Internet-Draft                                                J. Novotny
Intended status: Informational                                  Ericsson
Expires: 3 January 2022                                      2 July 2021

  Privacy Improvements for DNS Resolution with Confidential Computing


   Data leaks are a serious privacy problem for Internet users.  Data in
   flight and at rest can be protected with traditional communications
   security and data encryption.  Protecting data in use is more
   difficult.  In addition, failure to protect data in use can lead to
   disclosing session or encryption keys needed for protecting data in
   flight or at rest.

   This document discusses the use of Confidential Computing, to reduce
   the risk of leaks from data in use.  Our example use case is in the
   context of DNS resolution services.  The document looks at the
   operational implications of running services in a way that even the
   owner of the service or compute platform cannot access user-specific
   information produced by the resolution process.

Status of This Memo

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   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

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   This Internet-Draft will expire on 3 January 2022.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2021 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
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   provided without warranty as described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Background  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   3.  Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   4.  Prerequisities  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   5.  Confidential Computing  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   6.  Using Confidential Computing for DNS Resolution . . . . . . .   7
   7.  Operational Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     7.1.  Operations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     7.2.  Debugging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
     7.3.  Dependencies  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
     7.4.  Additional services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     7.5.  Performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   8.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
     8.1.  Observations from outside the TEE . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
     8.2.  Trust Relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
     8.3.  Denial-of-Service Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
     8.4.  Other vulnerabilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   9.  Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   10. Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
   11. References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
     11.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
     11.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  22

1.  Introduction

   DNS privacy has been a popular topic in the last few years, and
   continues to be.  The issues with regards to privacy are first that
   domain name meta-data is visible on the wire, even when the actual
   communications are encryped.  This is being addressed with better

   But even if the meta-data is hidden inside communications, any DNS
   resolvers still have the potential too see users' entire browsing
   history.  This is particularly problematic, given that commonly used
   large public or operator resolver services are an obviously

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   attractive target, for both attacks and for commercial or other use
   of information visible to them.

   A lot of work is ongoing in the industry and the IETF to address some
   of these issues:

   *  Work on encrypted DNS query protocols to hide the meta-data
      related to domain names.

   *  Discovery mechanisms.  These may enable a bigger fraction of DNS
      query traffic to move to encrypted protocols, and may also help
      distributed queries to different parties to avoid concentrating
      all information in one place.

   *  Practices, expectations, contracts (e.g., [RFC8932], Mozilla's
      trusted recursive resolver requirements [MozTRR])

   *  Improvements outside DNS (e.g., encrypted Server Name Indication
      (eSNI) [I-D.ietf-tls-esni]).

   *  General technology developments (e.g., confidential computing,
      attestations, remote attestation work at the IETF RATS WG, and so

   The goal of this document is to build on all that work - and assume
   all communications are or become encrypted, including the DNS
   traffic.  Our question is what problems remain?  Is there a next

   Our worry is that resolvers can be a major remaining source of leaks,
   e.g., through accidents, attacks, commercial use, or requests from
   the authorities.  We need to protect user's data in flight, at rest,
   or in use - we wanted to experiment with technology that could reduce
   leaks on the last two cases.  Confidential Computing is one such
   potential technology, but it is important to talk about it and get
   broader feedback.  The use of this technology does have some
   operational impacts.

   Our primary conclusions are that data held by servers should receive
   at least as much security attention as communications do.  The
   authors feel that this is particularly crucial for DNS, due to the
   potential to leak of users' browsing histories, but principles apply
   also to other services.

   As a result, all applicable tools should be considered, including
   confidential computing that is discussed in this document.  However,
   the operational and business implications of such tools should be
   considered.  Feedback to us is very welcome.  Are these approaches

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   feasible or infeasible?  What aspects need to be taken into account
   to successfully apply them?

2.  Background

   Communications security has been at the center of many security
   improvements in the Internet.  The goal has been to ensure that
   communications are protected against outside observers and attackers
   [RFC3552] [RFC7258].  Communications security is, however, not
   sufficient by itself, and continuing success in better protection of
   communications is highlighting the need to address other issues.

   In particular, more attention needs to be paid to protecting data not
   just in flight but also at rest or in use.  User data leaks that can
   occur from servers and other systems, through accidents, attacks,
   commercial use of data, and requests for information by authorities.
   Both data at rest and data in use needs to be protected.  Being able
   to protect data in use provides also benefits to protecting keys used
   for protecting data in flight and at rest.

   Data leaks are very common, and include highly publicized ones or
   ones with significant consequences, such as [Cambridge].  Data leaks
   are also not limited to traditional computer applications, but can
   also impact anything from private health data [Vastaamo] to
   children's toys [Toys] or smart TVs [SmartTV].

   The general issue and possible solutions have been discussed
   extensively elsewhere, e.g., [Digging], [Mem], [Comparison],
   [Innovative], [AMD], [Efficient], [CCC-Deepdive], [CC], and so on.
   The Internet-relevant angle has also been discussed in few documents,
   e.g., [I-D.lazanski-smart-users-internet], [I-D.iab-dedr-report]
   [I-D.arkko-farrell-arch-model-t-redux], and so on.  The topic is also
   related to best practices for protocol and network architecture
   design, and what information can be provided to what participants in
   a system, see, e.g.  [RFC8558] [I-D.thomson-tmi]

   Data leaks can occur in user-visible services that user has chosen to
   use and agreed to provide information to (at least in theory
   [Unread]).  But leaks can also occur in other types of services, that
   are part of the infrastructure, such as DNS resolution services or
   parts of the communication infrastructure.

   This document looks at the possibility of using a specific technical
   solution, Confidential Computing [CCC-Deepdive], to reduce the risk
   of leaks from data in use.  We consider the operational implications
   of running services in a way that even the owner of the service or

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   compute platform cannot access user-specific information that is
   produced as a side-effect of the service.

   We explore the use of Confidential Computing in the context of DNS
   resolution services [RFC1035].  This is a nice and relatively simple
   example, but there are of course potential other applications as

   DNS resolution services are of course also an important case where
   privacy matters a lot for the users.  Threats against the resolution
   process could prevent the user from accessing services.  Data leaks
   from the process have the potential to expose the user's entire
   browsing history.

   The use of Confidential Computing in the DNS context has been also
   discussed in other documents, e.g., [PDoT] and

   The DNS privacy issues have been also discussed in multiple
   documents, such as [RFC7626] [RFC8324] and so on.

3.  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.

4.  Prerequisities

   The primary sources of leaks are as follows:

   *  Communications interception.  This threat can be addressed by
      encrypted communications, such as the use of DNS-over-TLS (DoT)
      [RFC7858], DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH) [RFC8484], or DNS-over-QUIC (DoQ)
      [I-D.ietf-dprive-dnsoquic] instead of traditional DNS protocols.

   *  Data leakage from the server or service, either from data at rest
      or in use.  This can be addressed by encrypting the data while at
      rest and employing the techniques discussed in this document for
      data in use.

   The specific information that is privacy sensitive depends on the
   application.  In DNS resolution application it is clear that the
   users' browsing histories, i.e., which users asked for what names is
   privacy sensitive, and protecting that information is the primary
   focus in this document.  In contrast, the domains themselves or the

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   associated address information is in the general case public and not
   privacy sensitive.  However, in some cases even this information may
   be sensitive, such as in the case of internal domains of a corporate
   network.  Information not related to individuals may also be
   sensitive in some cases, e.g., the collective browsing destinations
   of an entire organization.

   The above was also observed in [RFC7626] which stated the following:

   "DNS data and the results of a DNS query are public [...], and may
   not have any confidentiality requirements. However, the same is
   not true of a single transaction or a sequence of transactions;
   that transaction is not / should not be public."

   Nevertheless, it should be noted that technology can help only
   insofar as there is commercial willingness to provide the best
   possible service and to protect the users' information.

   Similarly, the techniques discussed in this document are not the
   sole, or full answer to all problems.  There are a lot of technical,
   operational, and governance issues that also matter and practices
   that help.  A good compilation of some best practices can be found in
   [RFC8932], and particularly Section 5.2 that discusses data at rest.

5.  Confidential Computing

   Confidential Computing is about protecting data in use by performing
   computation in a hardware enforced Trusted Execution Environment
   (TEE) [CCC-Deepdive].  It addresses the need to protect data in use,
   which traditionally has been hard to achieve.  It may also help
   improve the encryption of data in flight and at rest, by helping
   protect session keys and other security information used in that

   For our purposes, we focus on Trusted Execution Environments that use
   computer hardware to provide the following characteristics:

   *  Attestability: The environment can provide verifiable evidence to
      others (such as client using services running on it) about the
      environment, its characteristics, and the software it runs.

   *  Code integrity: Unauthorized entities cannot modify software being
      run within the environment.

   *  Data confidentiality and integrity: Unauthorized entities cannot
      view or modify data while it is in use within the TEE.

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   These characteristics have been paraphrased from [CCC-Deepdive].  See
   also [I-D.ietf-rats-architecture] for details of attestation.  There
   are additional characteristics that matter in some situations, but
   for our purposes the above ones are central.

   Specific technologies to perform Confidential Computing or run TEEs
   are becoming common in CPUs, operating systems, and other supporting
   software.  For instance, Intel's Software Guard Extension (SGX) [SGX]
   is one CPU manufacturer's approach to this technology.  SGX allows
   application developers to run software protected in a secure enclave
   protected by the CPU, including for instance encrypting all memory
   accesses outside the CPU and being able to provide remote attestation
   to outsiders about which software image is being run.  These secure
   enclaves are the SGX approach to providing a TEE.

   Confidential Computing is also becoming available on commonly
   available cloud computing services.  When a user employs these
   services, they have the ability to run software and process data that
   even the owner of the cloud system does not have access to.

   Interestingly, that is quite a contrast to the worries expressed some
   years ago about Trusted Computing technology, when it was feared that
   it enabled running software in users' computers that could act
   against the interests of the user in some cases, such as when
   protecting media files [Stallman].  While those concerns may apply
   even today in some cases, it is clear that whe the user can get
   secure information about services running somewhere in the network,
   this is an advantage for the users.

   Note that availability might be another desirable characteristic for
   Confidential Computing systems, but it is one that is not in any
   special way supported by current technology.  Ultimately, the owner
   of the computer still has the ability to choose when to switch the
   computer off, for instance.  There is also no particular hardware
   technology at this time to deal with Denial-of-Service attacks.  Some
   of the software techniques related to dealing with Denial-of-Service
   attacks are discussed in the Security Considerations section.

6.  Using Confidential Computing for DNS Resolution

   Confidential Computing can be used to provide a privacy-friendly
   resolution service in a server.

   The basic arrangement is two-fold:

   *  User's computer and the DNS resolution server communicate using an
      encrypted and integrity protected transport protocol, such as DoT
      or DoH [RFC7858] [RFC8484].

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   *  The secure connection terminates inside a TEE running in the the
      DNS resolution server.  This TEE performs all the necessary
      processing to respond to the user's query.  The TEE will not
      provide any user-specific information outside of the TEE, such as
      logs of what names specific clients queried for.

      The TEE may need to contact other local servers or in the Internet
      to resolve a query that has no recently cached answer.  We will
      discuss later how this can be done securely: it is necessary to
      prevent the linking any external actions such as receiving a
      client request and observing a query going out to other DNS
      servers in the Internet.

   The arrangement is shown in Figure 1.

   +------------------+             +----------------+
   |      User's      |             | Server         |
   |     Computer     |             | Computer       |
   |                  |             |                |
   |                  |             |  +----------+  |
   |                  |             |  |  A TEE,  |  |
   |   +------------+ |             |  | running  |  |       other DNS
   |   | DNS Client |-|-------------|--|  a DNS   |--|------  servers
   |   +------------+ |             |  | resolver |  |      (if needed)
   |                  |             |  +----------+  |
   |                  |             |                |
   +------------------+             +----------------+

        Figure 1: Confidential Computing for DNS Resoluton

   In this application, we strive to have no data at rest at all, at
   least nothing that relates directly to users.  Data in flight and
   data in use are both protected by encryption.  As a result of running
   the resolution service in this manner, any user-specific information
   should remain within the TEE, and not exposed to outsiders or even
   the owner of the service or the compute platform where the service is
   running in.

   The authors believe that this is a desirable property.  However, it
   remains to assure users and clients that the service is actually run
   in this manner.  This can be done in two ways:

   *  Through off-line reliance on a particular service, i.e., a human
      decision to use a particular system.  Once there is a decision to
      use a particular system, cryptographic means such as public keys
      may be used to ensure that the client is indeed connected to the
      expected server.  However, there is no guarantee that the human-

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      space statements about the practices used in running the server
      are valid.

   *  Cryptographic check that the service is actually running inside a
      valid TEE and that it runs the expected software.  Such checks
      needs to rely on third parties.  The attestation verification is
      performed by a verifier - that can be either user's computer or a
      designated verifier as discussed in [I-D.ietf-rats-architecture]
      and [I-D.voit-rats-attestation-results] The verifier checks that
      (a) the cryptographic attestation refers to a server machine that
      is acceptable to the user (e.g., manufactured by a manufacturer it
      trusts, CPU features considered secure are used, features
      considered insecure are turned off, etc.) (b) that the software
      image designated as being run in the attestation is a software
      image that the relying party (end user) is willing to use (e.g.,
      has a hash that matches a known software that does not log user
      actions, or is vouched as trustworthy by another party that the
      relying party trusts).

7.  Operational Considerations

   This section discusses some aspects of the Confidential Computing
   arrangement for DNS, based on the authors' experience with these

7.1.  Operations

   Given that the service executes confidentially, and is not observable
   even by the owner of the hardware, the operations model becomes
   different.  Some different models may be applied:

   *  The service executes on a hardware platform (such as a commercial
      cloud service) that has no access to information, but there is
      some other management entity that does have access.  The control
      functions of this entity can communicate with the service
      instances running in TEEs, and have access to the internal state
      and statistics of the service instances.

   *  Truly confidential operations where the service and hardware
      owners have decided to deploy a service that really does not
      expose private user information to anyone, including themselves.

   It is not clear how the first model differs from currently deployed
   service models.  It merely makes it possible to run a service without
   exposing information to, say, the cloud provider, but any data
   collection about user behaviours would still be possible for the
   service owner.

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   As a result, this document focuses mostly on the second model.  For
   some functions, such as DNS resolution, it is possible to hide all
   user-related information, and our document argues that we should do

   Of course, the owners of a service do need some information to run
   the service, from an efficiency, scaling, problem tracking, and
   security monitoring point of view.  The service operator may even
   benefit from seeing some overall trend information about various
   queries and traffic.  This does not have to mean exposing individual
   user behaviours, however.

   The authors have worked with aggregate statistics to be able to
   provide load, performance, memory usage, cache statistics, error, and
   other information out of the confidential processes.  This helps the
   operator understand the health and status of various service
   instances.  Even with aggregate statistics, there are some danger of
   revealing private information.  For instance, even a sum of counters
   across all clients can reveal counters associated with an individual
   user, if the aggregate counters can be sampled at any time with
   arbitrary precision.  For instance, the actions of a single client
   can be determined by sampling the statistics before and after that
   client sent a message.

   A simplistic approach to producing safer statistics in such cases is
   to truncate and/or obfuscate the least significant bits of the
   statistics.  It is often necessary to tailor such truncation to the
   types of measurements, e.g., number of requests is typically a very
   large number while the number of specific errors is usually small.
   Truncation could of course be done dynamically.  More generally, the
   set of information provided to the operator about the confidential
   process could be viewed in light of differential privacy.

   Another complementary approach is to provide statistics only at set
   intervals, or after a sufficient amount of new traffic has been

   Another complementary technique to monitor the health of confidential
   services is the use of probes to ensure that the services function
   correctly.  Probes can also measure the performance of the services.

   The case of excessive service conditions due to Denial-of-Service
   attacks is discussed further under the Security Considerations

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7.2.  Debugging

   Various error conditions and software issues may occur, as is usual
   with any service.  There is a need to monitor problems that occur
   inside the service or at the client.  This can be done, for instance,
   with the help of various statistics discussed earlier.

   Some of the monitored conditions should include:

   *  All major (or preferably even minor) error conditions should have
      an associated counter.  This is necessary as no traditional
      logging can be reasonably provided that would otherwise have
      entries for, say, "client IP sent a malformed
      request".  While some errors can be expected at any time, a major
      increase in specific issues can indicate a problem.  As a result,
      the counters need to be monitored and issues investigated as

   *  Client connection failures, which might indicate software version,
      trust root or other configuration problems.

   Of course, for dedicated software testing purposes (such as debugging
   interoperability problems), even confidential services need to be run
   in a mode that exposes everything.  Actual clients and users MUST be
   able to ensure that they are connected to a production service
   instance.  This can be be done by providing debugging status as part
   of the remote attestation, so that clients can verify it is off.
   Alternatively, testing versions of the service are simply not listed
   as trusted software versions.

7.3.  Dependencies

   The use of Confidential Computing introduces three additional
   dependencies to the system:

   There is a need to be able to verify that the CPU executing the
   service is a legitimate CPU with the right hardware, and that the
   software being run for the service is acceptable.  While this can be
   hard coded information in the service clients, in practice there is
   often a need to rely on other parties for scalability.  As a result,
   there are two dependencies for legitimate CPU verification and for
   checking acceptable software versions.  These are services that need
   to be run, and/or their use need to be agreed and possibly contracted
   for.  The CPU manufacturer often plays a role in the CPU

   The third dependency is on the client.  Depending on specific
   protocol arrangements, Confidential Computing services often can

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   serve unmodified clients, but for the full benefits and for
   validating attestations or software images, client changes are
   necessary.  The necessary communications may happen as part of TLS
   negotiations or other general purpose protocols
   [I-D.mandyam-tokbind-attest], [I-D.ietf-rats-eat].

7.4.  Additional services

   Many services employ information that can be used to perform
   additional services beyond the basic task.  For instance, knowledge
   about what the users requests or who the user is can be used for
   various optimizations or additional information that can be delivered
   to the user.  Or the user can provide some additional information
   that is taken into account by the service.

   One concern with these types of additional services is that the
   information used by them can be privacy sensitive.  But Confidential
   Computing can assist in this as well, as long as the relevant
   information stays only within the TEE, it is better protected than
   by, e.g., providing that extra information to a regular service on
   the Internet.

   Conversely, care needs to be taken whenever the service needs to
   relay some information outside the TEE.  Some specific situations
   where this is needed with DNS are discussed in Section 7.1.

   One example of additional services is that aggregate, privacy-
   sensitive data may be produced about trends in a confidentially run
   service, if it will not be possible to separate individual users from
   that data.  For instance, it would be difficult sell information
   about individual users to help with targeted advertising, but the
   overall popularity of some websites could be measured.

7.5.  Performance

   Confidential Computing technology may impact performance.  Nakatsuka
   et al.  [PDoT] report on DNS resolution within a TEE where their
   solution could outperform the open source Unbound DNS server in
   certain scenarios, especially in situations where there are not a lot
   of DNS client connections.  We concur their suggestion that at
   current stage of Confidential Computing technology, possible
   implementations may be more suited for local DNS resolution services
   rather than global scale implementation, where the performance hit
   would be much more significant.  Nonetheless with Confidential
   Computing technology ever evolving we believe the low performance
   overhead solutions will be possible in foreseeable future.

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   Other things being equal there's likely some performance hit, as
   current Confidential Computing technology typically involves
   separating a server into two parts, the trusted and untrusted parts.
   In practice, all communications need to go through both, and the
   communication between the two parts consumes some cycles.  There are
   also current limitations on amount of memory or threads supported by
   these technologies.  However, newer virtualization-based confidential
   computing TEE approaches are likely going to improve these aspects.

   Another performance hit comes from the overhead related to running
   the attestation process, and passing the necessary extra information
   in the communications protocols with the clients.  In general, this
   works best when the cost of the setup is amortized over a long-lived
   session.  Such sessions may exist between DoT/DoH-enabled clients and
   resolvers.  Also, there are many possible arrangements and possible
   parties involved in attestation, see [I-D.ietf-rats-architecture].

8.  Security Considerations

   Security issues in this arrangement are discussed below.

8.1.  Observations from outside the TEE

   While a TEE is considered to be secure and not observable, there may
   be signs outside the TEE that can reveal information.

   For instance, a server may receive a request from a client and
   immediately send out a question to a server in the Internet about a
   particular domain name.  Observers - such as the owner of the server
   computer or the cloud farm - may be able to link incoming user
   queries to outgoing questions

   Caching, randomly made other traffic, and timing obfuscation can
   deter such attacks, at least to an extent.

8.2.  Trust Relationships

   For scaling reasons, the arrangement typically depends on the ability
   to have trusted parties (a) for attesting the validity of a
   particular CPU being manufactured by a CPU manufacturer, and (b) for
   determining whether a particular software image hash is acceptable
   for the task it is advertising to do.

   Such trusted parties need to be configured, which presents an
   additional operational burden.  The information can of course be
   provided as part of a device manufacturer's or application's initial
   configuration, or be provided independently similar to how, for
   instance, certificate authorities are run.

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   It is important to recognize that mere use of technology is not
   sufficient to make the system secure.  With communications,
   establishing a secure, encrypted channel is of no use if it is not
   with the intended party due to a certificate authority that proved to
   be untrustworthy.  With confidential computing, the same applies: one
   has to have someone who can assert that a CPU is capable of
   performing the confidential computing task and that the indicated
   software is good for performing the task that the user expects it to
   perform.  That being said, when such trusted parties can be found,
   the service performed by the server can become much more privacy

8.3.  Denial-of-Service Attacks

   To paraphrase an old philosophical question, "If an evil packet is
   sent behind the veil of encryption and no one is around to lift it,
   did an attack happen?"  [Chautauquan]

   Denial-of-Service attacks are a more serious form of the problems
   with operating services that the operator (intentionally) does not
   fully see.  There needs to be means to deal with these attacks.

   Attacks that can be identified by particularly high traffic flows
   from externally observable sources (e.g., source IP address) can of
   course still be dealt with in similar ways as we do in more open
   server designs.

   But this is often not enough, and for this purpose some additional
   support is needed in the systems, for both detection of attacks and
   reacting to them.

   One detection technique is to use the aggregate/truncated statistics
   to analyze anomalous behaviour.  Another technique is to have the
   confidential part of the service produce extra information about
   events that cross a threshold.  For instance, a particular error may
   occur exceptionally frequently, say among millions of requests, and
   this could warrant exposing either something about the request (e.g.,
   the associated domain name) or something about the client (e.g.,
   connection type, protocol details, or sender address).

   The operator of the services needs to be able to react to possible
   attacks as well.  One technique is to be able to provide instruction
   to the confidential part of the service to refuse service for
   specific requests (e.g., specific domain names) or for specific
   clients (e.g., coming from specific addresses).  Alternatively, the
   service can also dynamically react to issues, e.g., by starting to
   reduce the amount of resources dedicated to some classes of requests
   that for some reason are starting to require exceptionally high

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   amount of resources.  These techniques do not endanger user privacy,
   but may of course impact provided service.

8.4.  Other vulnerabilities

   Like all security mechanisms, this solution is not a panacea.  It
   relies on the correct operation of a number of technologies and
   entities.  For instance, CPU bugs or side channel vulnerabilities can
   cause information leaks to become possible.  While confidential
   computing offers a layer of protection against attacks even from the
   owner of the computer hardware or the operating system, it is
   believed that this protection does not extend to sophisticated
   physical attacks, such being able to study chips with an electron

   And as discussed above, it is also critical to check what software is
   being run, as otherwise any possible benefit would be negated by the
   possibly negligent or nefarious actions the unchecked software makes.

   The mechanism does offer an additional layer of defense, however.  It
   allows some of the trust that we place on our cloud platform owners,
   CPUs, and software applications to be verified and controlled with
   technical means.  It may have some remaining vulnerabilities, but we
   obviously already depend on, for instance, the correct operation of
   our computing platforms.  As such, Confidential Computing works to
   reduce some of the vulnerabilities in this area.

   It should also be a desirable feature for users.  A service that
   offers Confidential Computing-based protection of user data and can
   show that its software does not leak user-specific information is
   likely going to be more attractive to users than one that provides no
   such assurances.  Of course, overall user choice depends on many
   factors beyond privacy, such as cost, ease of use, switching costs,
   and so on.

   There is also a danger of attacks or pressure from intelligence
   agencies that could result in, e.g., the use of unpublicized
   vulnerabilities in an attempt to dwarf the protections in
   Confidential Computing.  This could be used to perform pervasive
   monitoring, for instance [RFC7258].  Even so, it is always beneficial
   to push the costs and difficulty for attackers.  Requiring parties
   who perform pervasive monitoring to employ complex technical attacks
   rather than being able to request logs from a service provider
   significantly increases the difficulty and risk associated with such

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9.  Recommendations

   Data held by servers SHOULD receive at least as much security
   attention as communications do.

   The authors would like to draw attention to the problem of data
   leaks, particularly for data in use, and RECOMMEND the application of
   all available tools to prevent inappropriate access to users'

   This is particularly crucial for DNS resolution services that have
   the potential to learn user's browsing histories.  But the principles
   apply also to other services.

   While using Confidential Computing without other modifications to the
   service in question is possible, real benefits can only be realized
   when the actual service is built for the purpose of avoiding data
   leaks or user data capture.  Systems may need to be tuned or
   modified, for instance they MUST NOT produce logs that would negate
   purpose of running them inside a TEE to begin with.  Mechanisms
   SHOULD be found to enable debugging and the detection of fault
   situations and attacks, again without exposing private information
   relating to individual users.

   Some computing services can proceed on their own and require no
   interaction with the rest of the world.  These are easier to secure.
   Even then, care SHOULD be taken to avoid request-response timing to
   provide information useful for side-channel attacks.  If so, the
   owner of the server hardware can not determine much about what was
   going on.

   However, other services may require interaction with other systems,
   such as is the case with a DNS resolver needing to find out a
   particular name that is not in a cache or whose cache entry has
   expired.  This is because the resolution service is not a self-
   contained computation task but ultimately needs, at least in some
   cases, interaction with the rest of the world.

   Consequently, the resolver needs to collaborate with other network
   nodes that are not even in the same administrative domain and cannot
   be guaranteed to subscribe to the same principles of protecting
   user's information.  In this case, even if communications to other
   entities are encrypted, the potentially untrusted party at the other
   end of the communications may leak information.

   In such communications, care SHOULD be taken to avoid exposing any
   information that would identify users, or allow fingerprinting the
   capabilities of those users' systems.  Similarly, care SHOULD be

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   taken to avoid exposing any timing information that would allow the
   owner of the server hardware to determine what is going on, e.g.,
   which users are asking for what names.  Even so, vulnerabilities may
   appear if the attacker can force the system to behave in a particular
   way, by, e.g., forcing cache overflow, overloading it with traffic it
   knows about, etc.

   The situation is slightly different when the interaction is with
   other systems that form a part of the same administrative domain.  In
   particular, if those other systems employ similar confidential
   computing setup, and an encrypted channel is used, then some
   additional security can be provided compared to communicating with
   other entities in the Internet.

10.  Acknowledgments

   The authors would like to thank Juhani Kauppi, Jimmy Kjaellman, and
   Tero Kauppinen for their work on systems supporting some of the ideas
   discussed in this memo, and Dave Thaler, Daniel Migault, Karl
   Norrman, and Christian Schaefer for significant feedback on early
   version of this draft.  The author would also like to thank Marcus
   Ihlar, Maria Luisa Mas, Miguel Angel Munos De La Torre Alonso, Jukka
   Ylitalo, Bengt Sahlin, Tomas Mecklin, Ben Smeets and many others for
   interesting discussions in this problem space.

11.  References

11.1.  Normative References

   [RFC1035]  Mockapetris, P.V., "Domain names - implementation and
              specification", STD 13, RFC 1035, DOI 10.17487/RFC1035,
              November 1987, <>.

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

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

11.2.  Informative References

   [AMD]      Kaplan, D., Powell, J., and T. Woller, "AMD Memory
              Encryption", AMD White Paper , April 2016.

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              Isaak, J. and M. Hanna, "User Data Privacy: Facebook,
              Cambridge Analytica, and Privacy Protection", Computer
              51.8 (2018): 56-59,
              stamp.jsp?arnumber=8436400 , 2018.

   [CC]       Rashid, F.Y., "What Is Confidential Computing?", IEEE
              what-is-confidential-computing , May 2020.

              Confidential Computing Consortium, ., "A Technical
              Analysis of Confidential Computing",
              January 2021.

              "The Chautauquan", Volume 3, Issue 9, p. 543 , June 1883.

              Mofrad, S., Zhang, F., Lu, S., and W. Shi, "A comparison
              study of intel SGX and AMD memory encryption technology",
              HASP '18, Proceedings of the 7th International Workshop on
              Hardware and Architectural Support for Security and
              Privacy, Pages 1-8,
     , June 2018.

   [Digging]  Hammouchi, H., Cherqi, O., Mezzour, G., Ghogho, M., and M.
              El Koutbi, "Digging Deeper into Data Breaches: An
              Exploratory Data Analysis of Hacking Breaches Over Time",
              Procedia Computer Science, Volume 151, pp. 1004-1009, ISSN
              S1877050919306064 , 2019.

              Suh, G.E., Clarke, D., Gasend, B., van Dijk, M., and S.
              Devadas, "Efficient memory integrity verification and
              encryption for secure processors", Proceedings. 36th
              Annual IEEE/ACM International Symposium on
              Microarchitecture, MICRO-36, San Diego, CA, USA, pp.
              339-350, doi: 10.1109/MICRO.2003.1253207 , 2003.

              Arkko, J., "Centralised Architectures in Internet
              Infrastructure", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-
              arkko-arch-infrastructure-centralisation-00, 4 November

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              2019, <

              Arkko, J. and S. Farrell, "Internet Threat Model
              Evolution: Background and Principles", Work in Progress,
              Internet-Draft, draft-arkko-farrell-arch-model-t-redux-01,
              22 February 2021, <

              Arkko, J. and T. Hardie, "Report from the IAB Workshop on
              Design Expectations vs. Deployment Reality in Protocol
              Development", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-iab-
              dedr-report-01, 2 November 2020,

              Huitema, C., Mankin, A., and S. Dickinson, "Specification
              of DNS over Dedicated QUIC Connections", Work in Progress,
              Internet-Draft, draft-ietf-dprive-dnsoquic-02, 22 February
              2021, <

              Birkholz, H., Thaler, D., Richardson, M., Smith, N., and
              W. Pan, "Remote Attestation Procedures Architecture", Work
              in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-ietf-rats-architecture-
              12, 23 April 2021, <

              Mandyam, G., Lundblade, L., Ballesteros, M., and J.
              O'Donoghue, "The Entity Attestation Token (EAT)", Work in
              Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-ietf-rats-eat-10, 7 June
              2021, <

              Rescorla, E., Oku, K., Sullivan, N., and C. A. Wood, "TLS
              Encrypted Client Hello", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft,
              draft-ietf-tls-esni-11, 14 June 2021,

              Lazanski, D., "An Internet for Users Again", Work in

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              Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-lazanski-smart-users-
              internet-00, 8 July 2019,

              Mandyam, G., Lundblade, L., and J. Azen, "Attested TLS
              Token Binding", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-
              mandyam-tokbind-attest-07, 24 January 2019,

              Reddy, T., Wing, D., Richardson, M. C., and M. Boucadair,
              "DNS Server Selection: DNS Server Information with
              Assertion Token", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-
              reddy-add-server-policy-selection-08, 29 March 2021,

              Thomson, M., "Principles for the Involvement of
              Intermediaries in Internet Protocols", Work in Progress,
              Internet-Draft, draft-thomson-tmi-01, 3 January 2021,

              Voit, E., Birkholz, H., Hardjono, T., Fossati, T., and V.
              Scarlata, "Attestation Results for Secure Interactions",
              Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-voit-rats-
              attestation-results-01, 10 June 2021,

              Ittai, A., Gueron, S., Johnson, S., and V. Scarlata,
              "Innovative Technology for CPU Based Attestation and
              Sealing", HASP'2013 , 2013.

   [Mem]      Henson, M. and S. Taylor, "Memory encryption: a survey of
              existing techniques", ACM Computing Surveys volume 46
              issue 4 , 2014.

   [MozTRR]   Mozilla, ., "Security/DOH-resolver-policy",

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   [PDoT]     Nakatsuka, Y., Paverd, A., and G. Tsudik, "PDoT: Private
              DNS-over-TLS with TEE Support", Digit. Threat.: Res.
              Pract., Vol. 2, No. 1, Article 3,
     , February

   [RFC3552]  Rescorla, E. and B. Korver, "Guidelines for Writing RFC
              Text on Security Considerations", BCP 72, RFC 3552,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC3552, July 2003,

   [RFC7258]  Farrell, S. and H. Tschofenig, "Pervasive Monitoring Is an
              Attack", BCP 188, RFC 7258, DOI 10.17487/RFC7258, May
              2014, <>.

   [RFC7626]  Bortzmeyer, S., "DNS Privacy Considerations", RFC 7626,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7626, August 2015,

   [RFC7858]  Hu, Z., Zhu, L., Heidemann, J., Mankin, A., Wessels, D.,
              and P. Hoffman, "Specification for DNS over Transport
              Layer Security (TLS)", RFC 7858, DOI 10.17487/RFC7858, May
              2016, <>.

   [RFC8324]  Klensin, J., "DNS Privacy, Authorization, Special Uses,
              Encoding, Characters, Matching, and Root Structure: Time
              for Another Look?", RFC 8324, DOI 10.17487/RFC8324,
              February 2018, <>.

   [RFC8484]  Hoffman, P. and P. McManus, "DNS Queries over HTTPS
              (DoH)", RFC 8484, DOI 10.17487/RFC8484, October 2018,

   [RFC8558]  Hardie, T., Ed., "Transport Protocol Path Signals",
              RFC 8558, DOI 10.17487/RFC8558, April 2019,

   [RFC8932]  Dickinson, S., Overeinder, B., van Rijswijk-Deij, R., and
              A. Mankin, "Recommendations for DNS Privacy Service
              Operators", BCP 232, RFC 8932, DOI 10.17487/RFC8932,
              October 2020, <>.

   [SGX]      Hoekstra, M.E., "Intel(R) SGX for Dummies (Intel(R) SGX
              Design Objectives)", Intel,
              blogs/protecting-application-secrets-with-intel-sgx.html ,
              September 2013.

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   [SmartTV]  Malkin, N., Bernd, J., Johnson, M., and S. Egelman, "What
              Can't Data Be Used For? Privacy Expectations about Smart
              TVs in the U.S.", European Workshop on Usable Security
              (Euro USEC),
              eurousec2018_16_Malkin_paper.pdf" , 2018.

   [Stallman] Stallman, R., "Can You Trust Your Computer?",,
     , n.d..

   [Toys]     Chu, G., Apthorpe, N., and N. Feamster, "Security and
              Privacy Analyses of Internet of Things Childrens' Toys",
              IEEE Internet of Things Journal 6.1 (2019): 978-985,
     , 2019.

   [Unread]   Obar, J. and A. Oeldorf, "The biggest lie on the
              internet{:} Ignoring the privacy policies and terms of
              service policies of social networking services",
              Information, Communication and Society (2018): 1-20 ,

   [Vastaamo] Redcross Finland, ., "Read this if your personal data was
              leaked in the Vastaamo data system break-in",
              personal-data-was-leaked-vastaamo-data-system-break ,
              October 2020.

Authors' Addresses

   Jari Arkko


   Jiri Novotny


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