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Versions: 00 01 02 03 04                                                
Network Working Group                                  B. Carpenter (ed)
Internet-Draft                                                       IBM
Intended Status: Informational                                  B. Aboba
Expires: December 25, 2007                         Microsoft Corporation
                                                            12 June 2007

             Design Considerations for Protocol Extensions

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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The IETF Trust (2007).


   This document discusses issues related to the extensibility of
   Internet protocols, with a focus on the architectural design
   considerations involved.  Concrete case study examples are included.
   It is intended to assist designers of both base protocols and

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Table of Contents

1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
2.  Architectural Principles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
  2.1   Limited Extensibility  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
  2.2   Global Interoperability  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
  2.3   Protocol Variations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
  2.4   Extension Documentation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
  2.5   Testability  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
  2.6   Parameter Registration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
  2.7   Extensions to Critical Infrastructure  . . . . . . . . . .  7
  2.8   Architectural Compatibility  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
3.  Specific Considerations for Robust Extensions  . . . . . . . .  8
  3.1.  Checklist for Interoperability of Extensions . . . . . . .  8
  3.2.  When is an Extension Routine?  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
  3.3.  What Constitutes a Major Extension?  . . . . . . . . . . .  9
4.  Considerations for the Base Protocol . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
  4.1.  Version Numbers  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
  4.2.  Reserved Fields  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
  4.3.  Encoding Formats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
5.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
6.  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
7.  Acknowledgments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
8.  References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
  8.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
  8.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Appendix A.  Examples  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
  A.1.  Already documented cases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
  A.2.  RADIUS Extensions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
  A.3.  TLS Extensions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
  A.4.  L2TP Extensions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Change log . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Full Copyright Statement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Intellectual Property  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

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1.  Introduction

   IETF protocols typically include mechanisms whereby they can be
   extended in the future.  It is of course a good principle to design
   extensibility into protocols; one common definition of a successful
   protocol is one that becomes widely used in ways not originally
   anticipated.  Well-designed extensibility mechanisms facilitate the
   evolution of protocols and help make it easier to roll out
   incremental changes in an interoperable fashion.

   When an initial protocol design is extended, there is always a risk
   of unintended consequences, such as interoperability problems or
   security vulnerabilities.  This risk is especially high if the
   extension is performed by a different team than the original
   designers, who may stray outside implicit design constraints or
   assumptions.  As a result, extensions should be done carefully and
   with a full understanding of the base protocol, existing
   implementations, and current operational practice.

   This is hardly a recent concern.  "TCP Extensions Considered Harmful"
   [RFC1263] was published in 1991.  "Extend" or "extension" occurs in
   the title of more than 300 existing RFCs.  Yet generic extension
   considerations have not been documented previously.

   This document describes technical considerations for protocol
   extensions, in order to minimize such risks.  It is intended to
   assist designers of both base protocols and extensions.  Formal
   procedures for extending IETF protocols are discussed in BCP 125

   Section 2 describes architectural principles for protocol
   extensibility.  Section 3 is aimed principally at extension
   designers, and Section 4 at base protocol designers.  Nevertheless,
   readers are advised to study the whole document, since the
   considerations are closely linked.

2.  Architectural Principles

   This Section describes basic principles of protocol extensibility:

   1. Extensibility features should be limited to what is clearly
   necessary when the protocol is developed.

   2. Protocol extensions should be designed for global

   3. Protocol extension mechanisms should not be used to create
   incompatible protocol variations.

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   4. Extension mechanisms need to be fully documented.

   5. Extension mechanisms need to be testable.

   6. Protocol parameters should be registered and used for their
   intended purpose.

   7. Extensions to critical infrastructure should not impact the
   security or reliability of the global Internet.

   8. Extension mechanisms should be explicitly identified and should be
   architecturally compatible with the base protocol design.

2.1.  Limited Extensibility

   Protocols that permit easy extensions may have the perverse side
   effect of making it easy to construct incompatible extensions.
   Consequently, protocols should not be made more extensible than
   clearly necessary at inception, and the process for defining new
   extensibility mechanisms should ensure that adequate review of
   proposed extensions will take place before widespread adoption.  In
   practice, this means First Come First Served [RFC2434] and similar
   policies that allow routine extensions should be used sparingly, as
   they imply minimal or no review.  In particular, they should be
   limited to cases, such as allowing new opaque data elements, that are
   unlikely to cause protocol failures.

   In order to increase the likelihood that routine extensions are truly
   routine, protocol documents should provide guidelines explaining how
   they should be performed.  For example, even though DHCP carries
   opaque data, defining a new option using completely unstructured data
   may lead to an option that is (unnecessarily) hard for clients and
   servers to process.

2.2.  Global Interoperability

   Global interoperability is a primary goal of IETF protocol design.
   Experience shows that software is often used outside the particular
   special environment it was originally intended for, so extensions
   cannot be designed for an isolated environment.  Designers of
   extensions must assume the high likelihood of a system using the
   extension having to interoperate with systems on the global Internet.

   For this reason, an extension may lead to interoperability failures
   unless the extended protocol correctly supports all mandatory and
   optional features of the unextended base protocol, and
   implementations of the base protocol operate correctly in the
   presence of the extensions.

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   Consider for example a "private" extension installed on a work
   computer which, being portable, is sometimes installed on a home
   network or in a hotel.  If the "private" extension is incompatible
   with an unextended version of the same protocol, problems will occur.

2.3.  Protocol Variations

   Protocol extension mechanisms should not be used to create
   incompatible forks in development instead.  Ideally, the protocol
   mechanisms for extension and versioning should be sufficiently well
   described that compatibility can be assessed on paper.  Otherwise,
   when two "private" extensions encounter each other on a public
   network, unexpected interoperability problems may occur.

   An example of what might go wrong is misuse of the X- mail headers
   originally defined in SMTP [RFC0822].  X-anything was a valid mail
   header; but it had no defined meaning in the standard.  Suppose a
   mail implementation assigns specific semantics to X-anything that
   causes it to take specific action, such as discarding a message as
   spam.  If it encounters a message from a different implementation
   that assigns different semantics, it may take quite inappropriate
   action, such as discarding a valid message.  Thus, relying on the
   implied semantics of an X- header automatically creates a risk of
   operational failures.  X- headers were removed from [RFC2822].  Even
   when they are assigned semantics, as in [RFC4356], great care must be
   taken that implementations do not rely on such semantics in messages
   that have crossed the open Internet.

   Thus we observe that a key requirement for interoperable extension
   design is that the base protocol must be well designed for
   interoperability, and that extensions must have unambiguous

   Protocol variations - specifications that look very similar to the
   original but are actually different - are even more harmful to
   interoperability than extensions.  In general, such variations should
   be avoided.  If they cannot be avoided, as many of the following
   considerations as possible should be applied, to minimize the damage
   to interoperability.

2.4.  Extension Documentation

   Some protocol components are designed with the specific intention of
   allowing extensibility.  These should be clearly identified, with
   specific and complete instructions on how to extend them, including
   the process for adequate review of extension proposals: do they need
   community review and if so how much and by whom?  For example, the
   definition of additional data elements that can be carried opaquely

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   may require no review, while the addition of new data types or new
   protocol messages might require a Standards Track action.  Guidance
   on writing appropriate IANA Considerations text may be found in

   In a number of cases, there is a need for explicit guidance relating
   to extensions beyond what is encapsulated in the IANA considerations
   section of the base specification.  The usefulness of [RFC4181] would
   appear to suggest that protocols whose data model is likely to be
   widely extended (particularly using vendor-specific elements) need a
   Design Guidelines document specifically addressing extensions.

2.5.  Testability

   Experience shows that it is insufficient to correctly specify
   extensibility and backwards compatibility in an RFC.  It is also
   important that implementations respect the compatibility mechanisms;
   if not, non-interoperable pairs of implementations may arise.  The
   TLS case study shows how important this can be.

   In order to determine whether protocol extension mechanisms have been
   properly implemented, testing is required.  However, for this to be
   possible, test cases need to be developed.  If a base protocol
   document specifies extension mechanisms but does not utilize them or
   provide examples, it may not be possible to develop test cases based
   on the base protocol specification alone.  As a result, base protocol
   implementations may not be properly tested and non-compliant
   extension behavior may not be detected until these implementations
   are widely deployed.

   To encourage correct implementation of extension mechanisms, base
   protocol specifications should clearly articulate the expected
   behavior of extension mechanisms and should include examples of
   correct and incorrect extension behavior.

2.6.  Parameter Registration

   An extension is often likely to make use of additional values added
   to an existing IANA registry (in many cases, simply by adding a new
   "TLV" (type-length-value) field).  To avoid conflicting usage of the
   same value, it is essential that all new values are properly
   registered by the applicable procedures.  See BCP 26, [RFC2434] for
   the general rules, and individual protocol RFCs, and the IANA web
   site, for specific rules and registries.  If this is not done, there
   is nothing to prevent two different extensions picking the same
   value.  When these two extensions "meet" each other on the Internet,
   failure is inevitable.

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   A surprisingly common case of this is misappropriation of assigned
   TCP (or UDP) registered port numbers.  This can lead to a client for
   one service attempting to communicate with a server for another
   service.  Numerous cases could be cited, but not without embarrassing
   specific implementors.

   In some cases, it may be appropriate to use values designated as
   "experimental" or "local use" in early implementations of an
   extension.  For example, [RFC4727] discusses experimental values for
   IP and transport headers, and [RFC2474] defines experimental/local
   use ranges for differentiated services code points.  Such values
   should be used with care and only for their stated purpose:
   experiments and local use.  They are unsuitable for Internet-wide
   use, since they may be used for conflicting purposes and thereby
   cause interoperability failures.  Packets containing experimental or
   local use values must not be allowed out of the domain in which they
   are meaningful.

2.7.  Extensions to Critical Infrastructure

   Some protocols (such as DNS and BGP) have become critical components
   of the Internet infrastructure.  When such protocols are extended,
   the potential exists for negatively impacting the reliability and
   security of the global Internet.

   As a result, special care needs to be taken with these extensions,
   such as taking explicit steps to isolate existing uses from new ones.
   For example, this can be accomplished by requiring the extension to
   utilize a different port or multicast address, or by implementing the
   extension within a separate process, without access to the data and
   control structures of the base protocol.

2.8.  Architectural Compatibility

   Since protocol extension mechanisms may impact interoperability, it
   is important that these mechanisms be architecturally compatible with
   the base protocol.  This implies that documents relying on extension
   mechanisms need to explicitly identify them, rather than burying them
   in the text in the hope that they will escape notice.

   As part of the definition of new extension mechanisms, the authors
   need to address whether the mechanisms make use of features as
   envisaged by the original protocol designers, or whether a new
   extension mechanism is being invented.  If a new extension mechanism
   is being invented, then architectural compatibility issues need to be

   For example, a document defining new data elements should not

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   implicitly define new data types or protocol operations without
   explicitly describing those dependencies and discussing their impact.

3.  Specific Considerations for Robust Extensions

   This section makes explicit some design considerations based on the
   community's experience with extensibility mechanisms.

3.1.  Interoperability Checklist

   Good interoperability stems from a number of factors, including:

      1.  Having a well-written specification.  Does the specification
      make clear what an implementor needs to support and does it define
      the impact that individual operations (e.g. a message sent to a
      peer) will have when invoked?

      2.  Learning lessons from deployment.  This includes understanding
      what current implementations do and how a proposed extension will
      interact with deployed systems.  Will a proposed extension (or its
      proposed usage) operationally stress existing implementations or
      the underlying protocol itself if widely deployed?

      3.  Having an adequate transition or coexistence story.  What
      impact will the proposed extension have on implementations that do
      not understand it?  Is there a way to negotiate or determine the
      capabilities of a peer?  Can the extended protocol negotiate with
      an unextended partner to find a common subset of useful functions?

      4.  Respecting underlying architectural or security assumptions.
      This includes assumptions that may not be well-documented, those
      that may have arisen as the result of operational experience, or
      those that only became understood after the original protocol was
      published.  For example, do the extensions reverse the flow of
      data, allow formerly static parameters to be changed on the fly,
      or change assumptions relating to the frequency of reads/writes?

      5. Minimizing impact on critical infrastructure.  Does the
      proposed extension (or its proposed usage) have the potential for
      negatively impacting critical infrastructure to the point where
      explicit steps would be appropriate to isolate existing uses from
      new ones?

      6. Data model extensions.  Does the proposed extension extend the
      data model in a major way?  For example, are new data types
      defined that may require code changes within existing

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3.2.  When is an Extension Routine?

   An extension may be considered routine if it amounts to a new data
   element of a type that is already supported within the data model,
   and if its handling is opaque to the protocol itself (e.g. does not
   substantially change the pattern of messages and responses).

   For this to apply, the protocol must have been designed to carry the
   proposed data type, so that no changes to the underlying base
   protocol or existing implementations are needed to carry the new data

   Moreover, no changes are required to existing and currently deployed
   implementations of the underlying protocol unless they want to make
   use of the new data element.  Using the existing protocol to carry a
   new data element should not impact existing implementations or cause
   operational problems.  This typically requires that the protocol
   silently discard unknown data elements.

   Examples of routine extensions include the DHC vendor-specific
   option, RADIUS Vendor-Specific Attributes compliant with [RFC2865],
   the enterprise OID tree for MIB modules, vendor MIME types, and some
   classes of (non-critical) certification extensions.  Such extensions
   can safely be made with minimal discussion.

3.3.  What Constitutes a Major Extension?

   Major extensions may have characteristics leading to a risk of
   interoperability failure.  Where these characteristics are present,
   it is necessary to pay extremely close attention to backward
   compatibility with implementations and deployments of the unextended
   protocol, and to the risk of inadvertent introduction of security or
   operational exposures.  Extension designers should examine their
   design for the following issues:

      1.  Modifications or extensions to the working of the underlying
      protocol.  This can include changing the semantics of existing
      PDUs or defining new message types that may require implementation
      changes in existing and deployed implementations of the protocol,
      even if they do not want to make use of the new functions or data
      types.  A base protocol without a "silent discard" rule for
      unknown data elements may automatically enter this category, even
      for apparently minor extensions.

      2.  Changes to the basic architectural assumptions.  This includes
      architectural assumptions that are explicitly stated or those that
      have been assumed by implementers.  For example, this would
      include adding a requirement for session state to a previously

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      stateless protocol.

      3.  New usage scenarios not originally intended or investigated.
      This can potentially lead to operational difficulties when
      deployed, even in cases where the "on-the-wire" format has not
      changed.  For example, the level of traffic carried by the
      protocol may increase substantially, packet sizes may increase,
      and implementation algorithms that are widely deployed may not
      scale sufficiently or otherwise be up to the new task at hand.
      For example, a new DNS Resource Record (RR) type that is too big
      to fit into a single UDP packet could cause interoperability
      problems with existing DNS clients and servers.

4.  Considerations for the Base Protocol

   A good extension design depends on a good base protocol.  Ideally,
   the document that defines a base protocol's extension mechanisms will
   include guidance to future extension writers that help them use
   extension mechanisms properly.  It may also be possible to define
   classes of extensions that need little or no review, while other
   classes need wide review.  The details will necessarily be

4.1.  Version Numbers

   Any mechanism for extension by versioning must include provisions to
   ensure interoperability, or at least clean failure modes.  Imagine
   someone creating a protocol and using a "version" field and
   populating it with a value (1, let's say), but giving no information
   about what would happen when a new version number appears in it.
   That's bad protocol design and description; it should be clear what
   the expectation is and how you test it.  For example, stating that
   1.X must be compatible with any version 1 code, but version 2 or
   greater is not expected to be compatible, has different implications
   than stating that version 1 must be a proper subset of version 2.

   An example is ROHC (Robust Header Compression).  ROHCv1 [RFC3095]
   supports a certain set of profiles for compression algorithms.  But
   experience has shown that these profiles have limitations, so the
   ROHC WG is developing ROHCv2.  A ROHCv1 implementation will not
   contain code for the ROHCv2 profiles.  As the ROHC WG charter said at
   the time of writing:

      It should be noted that the v2 profiles will thus not be
      compatible with the original (ROHCv1) profiles, which means less
      complex ROHC implementations can be realized by not providing
      support for ROHCv1 (over links not yet supporting ROHC, or by
      shifting out support for ROHCv1 in the long run). Profile support

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      is agreed through the ROHC channel negotiation, which is part of
      the ROHC framework and thus not changed by ROHCv2.

   Thus in this case both backwards-compatible and backwards-
   incompatible deployments are possible.  The important point is a
   clearly thought out approach to the question of operational
   compatibility.  In the past, protocols have utilized a variety of
   strategies for versioning, many of which have proven problematic.
   These include:

      1. No versioning support.  This approach is exemplified by EAP
      [RFC3748] as well as RADIUS [RFC2865], both of which provide no
      support for versioning.  While lack of versioning support protects
      against the proliferation of incompatible dialects, the need for
      extensibility is likely to assert itself in other ways, so that
      ignoring versioning entirely may not be the most forward thinking

      2. Highest mutually supported version.  In this approach,
      implementations exchange the highest supported version, with the
      negotiation agreeing on the highest mutually supported protocol
      version.  This approach implicitly assumes that later versions
      provide improved functionality, and that advertisement of a higher
      version number implies support for lower versions.  Where these
      assumptions are invalid, this approach breaks down, potentially
      resulting in interoperability problems.  An example of this issue
      occurs in [PEAP] where implementations of higher versions may not
      necessarily provide support for lower versions.

      3. Assumed backward compatibility.  In this approach,
      implementations may send packets with higher version numbers to
      legacy implementations supporting lower versions, but with the
      assumption that the legacy implementations will interpret packets
      with higher version numbers using the semantics and syntax defined
      for lower versions.  This is the approach taken by [IEEE-802.1X].
      For this approach to work, legacy implementations need to be able
      to accept packets of known type with higher protocol versions
      without discarding them;  protocol enhancements need to permit
      silent discard of unsupported extensions; implementations
      supporting higher versions need to refrain from mandating new
      features when encountering legacy implementations.

      4. Major/minor versioning.  In this approach, implementations with
      the same major version but a different minor version are assumed
      to be backward compatible, but implementations are assumed to be
      required to negotiate a mutually supported major version number.
      This approach assumes that implementations with a lower minor
      version number but the same major version can safely ignore

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      unsupported protocol messages.

4.2.  Reserved Fields

   Protocols commonly include one or more "reserved" fields, clearly
   intended for future extensions.  It is good practice to specify the
   value to be inserted in such a field by the sender (typically zero)
   and the action to be taken by the receiver when seeing some other
   value (typically no action).  If this is not done, future
   implementation of new values in the reserved field may break old
   software.  Similarly, protocols should carefully specify how
   receivers should react to unknown TLVs etc., such that failures occur
   only when that is truly the desired result.

4.3.  Encoding Formats

   Using widely-supported encoding formats leads to better
   interoperability and easier extensibility.  An excellent example is
   the SNMP SMI.  Guidelines exist for defining the MIB objects that
   SNMP carries [RFC4181].  Also, multiple textual conventions have been
   published, so that MIB designers do not have to reinvent the wheel
   when they need a commonly encountered construct.  For example, the
   "Textual Conventions for Internet Network Addresses" [RFC4001] can be
   used by any MIB designer needing to define objects containing IP
   addresses, thus ensuring consistency as the body of MIBs is extended.

5.  Security Considerations

   An extension must not introduce new security risks without also
   providing adequate counter-measures, and in particular it must not
   inadvertently defeat security measures in the unextended protocol.
   Thus, the security analysis for an extension needs to be as thorough
   as for the original protocol - effectively it needs to be a
   regression analysis to check that the extension doesn't inadvertently
   invalidate the original security model.

   This analysis may be simple (e.g. adding an extra opaque data element
   is unlikely to create a new risk) or quite complex (e.g. adding a
   handshake to a previously stateless protocol may create a completely
   new opportunity for an attacker).

6.  IANA Considerations

   This draft requires no action by IANA.

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7.  Acknowledgments

   This document is heavily based on an earlier draft under a different
   title by Scott Bradner and Thomas Narten.

   That draft stated: The initial version of this document was put
   together by the IESG in 2002.  Since then, it has been reworked in
   response to feedback from John Loughney, Henrik Levkowetz, Mark
   Townsley, Randy Bush, Bernard Aboba and others.

   Valuable comments and suggestions on the current form of the document
   were made by Jari Arkko, Ted Hardie, Loa Andersson, Eric Rescorla,
   Pekka Savola, and Leslie Daigle.

   The text on TLS experience was contributed by Yngve Pettersen.

8.  References

8.1.  Normative References

[RFC0822]      Crocker, D., "Standard for the format of ARPA Internet
               text messages", STD 11, RFC 822, August 1982.

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

[RFC2434]      Narten, T. and H. Alvestrand, "Guidelines for Writing an
               IANA Considerations Section in RFCs", BCP 26, RFC 2434,
               October 1998.

[RFC2474]      Nichols, K., Blake, S., Baker, F., and D. Black,
               "Definition of the Differentiated Services Field (DS
               Field) in the IPv4 and IPv6 Headers", RFC 2474, December

[RFC2671]      Vixie, P., "Extension Mechanisms for DNS (EDNS0)",RFC
               2671, August 1999.

[RFC2822]      Resnick, P., "Internet Message Format", RFC 2822, April

[RFC3095]      Bormann, C., Burmeister, C., Degermark, M., Fukushima,
               H., Hannu, H., Jonsson, L-E., Hakenberg, R., Koren, T.,
               Le, K., Liu, Z., Martensson, A., Miyazaki, A., Svanbro,
               K., Wiebke, T., Yoshimura, T., and H. Zheng, "RObust
               Header Compression (ROHC): Framework and four profiles:
               RTP, UDP, ESP, and uncompressed", RFC 3095, July 2001.

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[RFC3427]      Mankin, A., Bradner, S., Mahy, R., Willis, D., Ott, J.,
               and B. Rosen, "Change Process for the Session Initiation
               Protocol (SIP)", BCP 67, RFC 3427, December 2002.

[RFC3546]      Blake-Wilson, S., Nystrom, M., Hopwood, D., Mikkelsen,
               J., and T. Wright, "Transport Layer Security (TLS)
               Extensions", RFC 3546, June 2003.

[RFC4001]      Daniele, M., Haberman, B., Routhier, S., and J.
               Schoenwaelder, "Textual Conventions for Internet Network
               Addresses", RFC 4001, February 2005.

[RFC4181]      Heard, C., "Guidelines for Authors and Reviewers of MIB
               Documents", BCP 111, RFC 4181, September 2005.

[RFC4356]      Gellens, R., "Mapping Between the Multimedia Messaging
               Service (MMS) and Internet Mail", RFC 4356, January 2006.

[RFC4521]      Zeilenga, K., "Considerations for Lightweight Directory
               Access Protocol (LDAP) Extensions", BCP 118, RFC 4521,
               June 2006.

[RFC4727]      Fenner, B., "Experimental Values In IPv4, IPv6, ICMPv4,
               ICMPv6, UDP, and TCP Headers", RFC 4727, November 2006.

[RFC4775]      Bradner, S., Carpenter, B., and T. Narten, "Procedures
               for Protocol Extensions and Variations", BCP 125, RFC
               4775, December 2006.

8.2.  Informative References

               Andersson, L. and A. Farrel, "Change Process for
               Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and Generalized MPLS
               (GMPLS) Protocols and Procedures", draft-andersson-rtg-
               gmpls-change-08 (work in progress), March 2007.

[IEEE-802.1X]  Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, "Local
               and Metropolitan Area Networks: Port-Based Network Access
               Control", IEEE Standard 802.1X-2004, December 2004.

[PEAP]         Palekar, A., Simon, D., Salowey, J., Zhou, H., Zorn, G.
               and S. Josefsson, "Protected EAP Protocol (PEAP) Version
               2", draft-josefsson-pppext-eap-tls-eap-10.txt, Internet
               draft (work in progress), October 2004.

[RFC1263]      O'Malley, S. and L. Peterson, "TCP Extensions Considered
               Harmful", RFC 1263, October 1991.

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[RFC2661]      Townsley, W., Valencia, A., Rubens, A., Pall, G., Zorn,
               G., and B. Palter, "Layer Two Tunneling Protocol "L2TP"",
               RFC 2661, August 1999.

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

[RFC3575]      Aboba, B., "IANA Considerations for RADIUS (Remote
               Authentication Dial In User Service)", RFC 3575, July

[RFC3735]      Hollenbeck, S., "Guidelines for Extending the Extensible
               Provisioning Protocol (EPP)", RFC 3735, March 2004.

[RFC3748]      Aboba, B., Blunk, L., Vollbrecht, J., Carlson, J. and H.
               Lefkowetz, "Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP)",
               RFC 3748, June 2004.

[RFC4485]      Rosenberg, J. and H. Schulzrinne, "Guidelines for Authors
               of Extensions to the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)",
               RFC 4485, May 2006.

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Appendix A.  Examples

   This section discusses some specific examples, as case studies.

A.1.  Already documented cases

   There are certain documents that specify a change process or describe
   extension considerations for specific IETF protocols:

      The SIP change process [RFC3427], [RFC4485]
      The (G)MPLS change process (mainly procedural)
      LDAP extensions[RFC4521]
      EPP extensions[RFC3735]
      DNS extensions[RFC2671]

   It is relatively common for MIBs, which are all in effect extensions
   of the SMI data model, to be defined or extended outside the IETF.
   BCP 111 [RFC4181] offers detailed guidance for authors and reviewers.

A.2.  RADIUS Extensions

   The RADIUS [RFC2865] protocol was designed to be extensible via
   addition of Attributes to a Data Dictionary on the server, without
   requiring code changes.  However, this extensibility model assumed
   that Attributes would conform to a limited set of data types and that
   vendor extensions would be limited to use by vendors, in situations
   in which interoperability was not required.  Subsequent developments
   have stretched those assumptions.

   [RFC2865] Section 6.2 defines a mechanism for Vendor-Specific
   extensions (Attribute 26), and states that use:

      should be encouraged instead of allocation of global attribute
      types, for functions specific only to one vendor's implementation
      of RADIUS, where no interoperability is deemed useful.

   However, in practice usage of Vendor-Specific Attributes (VSAs) has
   been considerably broader than this; in particular, VSAs have been
   used by SDOs to define their extensions to the RADIUS protocol.

   This has caused a number of problems.  Since the VSA mechanism was
   not designed for interoperability, VSAs do not contain a "mandatory"
   bit.  As a result, RADIUS clients and servers may not know whether it
   is safe to ignore unknown attributes.  For example, [RFC2865] Section
   5 states:

      A RADIUS server MAY ignore Attributes with an unknown Type.  A

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      RADIUS client MAY ignore Attributes with an unknown Type.

   However, in the case where the VSAs pertain to security (e.g.
   Filters) it may not be safe to ignore them, since [RFC2865] also

      A NAS that does not implement a given service MUST NOT implement
      the RADIUS attributes for that service.  For example, a NAS that
      is unable to offer ARAP service MUST NOT implement the RADIUS
      attributes for ARAP.  A NAS MUST treat a RADIUS access-accept
      authorizing an unavailable service as an access-reject instead."

   Since it was not envisaged that multi-vendor VSA implementations
   would need to interoperate, [RFC2865] does not define the data model
   for VSAs, and allows multiple sub-attributes to be included within a
   single Attribute of type 26.  However, this enables VSAs to be
   defined which would not be supportable by current implementations if
   placed within the standard RADIUS attribute space.  This has caused
   problems in standardizing widely deployed VSAs.

   In addition to extending RADIUS by use of VSAs, SDOs have also
   defined new values of the Service-Type attribute in order to create
   new RADIUS commands.  Since [RFC2865] defined Service-Type values as
   being allocated First Come, First Served (FCFS), this essentially
   enabled new RADIUS commands to be allocated without IETF review.
   This oversight has since been fixed in [RFC3575].

A.3.  TLS Extensions

   The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) v2 protocol was developed by Netscape
   to be used to secure online transactions on the Internet.  It was
   later replaced by SSL v3, also developed by Netscape.  SSL v3 was
   then further developed by the IETF as the Transport Layer Security
   (TLS) protocol.

   The SSL v3 protocol was not explicitly specified to be extended.
   Even TLS 1.0 did not define an extension mechanism explicitly.
   However, extension "loopholes" were available.  Extension mechanisms
   were finally defined in [RFC3546]:

      o  New versions
      o  New cipher suites
      o  Compression
      o  Expanded handshake messages
      o  New record types
      o  New handshake messages

   The protocol also defines how implementations should handle unknown

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   Of the above extension methods, new versions and expanded handshake
   messages have caused the most interoperability problems.
   Implementations are supposed to ignore unknown record types but to
   reject unknown handshake messages.

   The new version support in SSL/TLS includes a capability to define
   new versions of the protocol, while allowing newer implementations to
   communicate with older implementations.  As part of this
   functionality some Key Exchange methods include functionality to
   prevent version rollback attacks.

   The experience with this upgrade functionality in SSL and TLS is
   decidedly mixed.

    o  SSL v2 and SSL v3/TLS are not compatible.  It is possible to use
       SSL v2 protocol messages to initiate a SSL v3/TLS connection, but
       it is not possible to communicate with a SSL v2 implementation
       using SSL v3/TLS protocol messages.
    o  There are implementations that refuse to accept handshakes using
       newer versions of the protocol than they support.
    o  There are other implementations that accept newer versions, but
       have implemented the version rollback protection clumsily.

   The SSL v2 problem has forced SSL v3 and TLS clients to continue to
   use SSL v2 Client Hellos for their initial handshake with almost all
   servers until 2006, much longer than would have been desirable, in
   order to interoperate with old servers.

   The problem with incorrect handling of newer versions has also forced
   many clients to actually disable the newer protocol versions, either
   by default, or by automatically disabling the functionality, to be
   able to connect to such servers.  Effectively, this means that the
   version rollback protection in SSL and TLS is non-existent if talking
   to a fatally compromised older version.

   SSL v3 and TLS also permitted expansion of the Client Hello and
   Server Hello handshake messages.  This functionality was fully
   defined by the introduction of TLS Extensions, which makes it
   possible to add new functionality to the handshake, such as the name
   of the server the client is connecting to, request certificate status
   information, indicate Certificate Authority support, maximum record
   length, etc.  Several of these extensions also introduces new
   handshake messages.

   It has turned out that many SSL v3 and TLS implementations that do
   not support TLS Extensions, did not, as specified in the protocols,

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   ignore the unknown extensions, but instead failed to establish

   Several of the implementations behaving in this manner are used by
   high profile Internet sites, such as online banking sites, and this
   has caused a significant delay in the deployment of clients
   supporting TLS Extensions, and several of the clients that have
   enabled support are using heuristics that allow them to disable the
   functionality when they detect a problem.

   Looking forward, the protocol version problem, in particular, can
   cause future security problems for the TLS protocol.  The strength of
   the Digest algorithms (MD5 and SHA-1) used by SSL and and TLS is
   weakening, and work is underway to define TLS 1.2 which will permit
   new methods to be used in the protocol instead of the currently used
   methods.  If MD5 and SHA-1 weaken to the point where it is feasible
   to mount successful attacks against older SSL and TLS versions, the
   current error recovery used by clients would become a security
   vulnerability (among many other serious problems for the Internet).

   The lesson to be drawn from this experience is that it isn't
   sufficient to design extensibility carefully; it must also be
   implemented carefully by every implementer, without exception.

A.4.  L2TP Extensions

   L2TP [RFC2661] carries Attribute-Value Pairs (AVPs), with most AVPs
   having no semantics to the L2TP protocol itself.  However, it should
   be noted that L2TP message types are identified by a Message Type AVP
   (Attribute Type 0) with specific AVP values indicating the actual
   message type.  Thus, extensions relating to Message Type AVPs would
   likely be considered major extensions.

   L2TP also provides for Vendor-Specific AVPs.  Because everything in
   L2TP is encoded using AVPs, it would be easy to define vendor-
   specific AVPs that would be considered major extensions.

   L2TP also provides for a "mandatory" bit in AVPs.  Recipients of L2TP
   messages containing AVPs they do not understand but that have the
   mandatory bit set, are expected to reject the message and terminate
   the tunnel or session the message refers to.  This leads to
   interesting interoperability issues, because a sender can include a
   vendor-specific AVP with the M-bit set, which then cause the
   recipient to not interoperate with the sender.  This sort of behavior
   is counter to the IETF ideals, as implementations of the IETF
   standard should interoperate successfully with other implementations
   and not require the implementation of non-IETF extensions in order to
   interoperate successfully.  Section 4.2 of the L2TP specification

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   [RFC2661] includes specific wording on this point, though there was
   significant debate at the time as to whether such language was by
   itself sufficient.

   Fortunately, it does not appear that the above concerns have been a
   problem in practice.  At the time of this writing, the authors are
   unaware of the existence of vendor-specific AVPs that also set the M-

Change log [RFC Editor: please remove this section]

   draft-carpenter-extension-rec-02:  2007-06-15.  Reorganized Sections
   2 and 3.

   draft-carpenter-extension-recs-01: 2007-03-04.  Updated according to
   comments, especially the wording about TLS, added various specific

   draft-carpenter-extension-recs-00: original version, 2006-10-12.
   Derived from draft-iesg-vendor-extensions-02.txt dated 2004-06-04 by
   focusing on architectural issues; the more procedural issues in that
   draft were moved to RFC 4775.

Authors' Addresses

   Brian Carpenter
   8 Chemin de Blandonnet
   1214 Vernier,

   Email: brian.e.carpenter@gmail.com

   Bernard Aboba
   Microsoft Corporation
   One Microsoft Way
   Redmond, WA 98052

   EMail: bernarda@microsoft.com
   Phone: +1 425 706 6605
   Fax:   +1 425 936 7329

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Full Copyright Statement

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