Network Working Group                                      M. Nottingham
Internet-Draft                                          October 14, 2013
Intended status: Standards Track
Expires: April 17, 2014


                        HTTP Alternate Services
                  draft-nottingham-httpbis-alt-svc-00

Abstract

   This document introduces "alternate services" to allow an HTTP
   origin's resources to be available at a seperate network location,
   possibly accessed with a different protocol configuration.

   It also specifies one means of discovering alternate services, the
   "Alt-Svc" header field.

Status of this Memo

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

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
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   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
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   This Internet-Draft will expire on April 17, 2014.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2013 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
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   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as



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   described in the Simplified BSD License.


Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
     1.1.  Notational Conventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.  Alternate Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
     2.1.  Client Handling for Alternate Services . . . . . . . . . .  5
       2.1.1.  Host Authentication  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
       2.1.2.  Alternate Service Caching  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
       2.1.3.  Alternate Service Priorities . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
       2.1.4.  Using Alternate Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   3.  The Alt-Svc HTTP Header Field  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
     3.1.  Caching Alt-Svc Header Field Values  . . . . . . . . . . .  7
     3.2.  Indicating Alt-Svc Header Field Priority . . . . . . . . .  8
   4.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
     4.1.  Changing Ports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
     4.2.  Changing Hosts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     4.3.  Changing Protocols . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   5.  References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
     5.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
     5.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   Appendix A.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   Appendix B.  Implementation Status . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   Appendix C.  TODO  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
   Author's Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
























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1.  Introduction

   [I-D.ietf-httpbis-http2] specifies a few ways to negotiate the use of
   HTTP/2.0 without changing existing URIs.  However, several
   deficiencies in using the "upgrade dance" for "http://" URIs have
   become apparent.  While that mechanism is still being investigated,
   some have expressed interest in an alternate approach.

   Furthermore, some implementers have expressed a strong desire to
   optimistically upgrade to TLS for "http://" URIs when using HTTP/2.0;
   see [I-D.nottingham-http2-encryption] for details.

   Finally, HTTP/2.0 is designed to have longer-lived, fewer and more
   active TCP connections.  While these properties are generally
   "friendlier" for the network, they can cause problems for servers
   that currently exploit the short-lived flow characteristics of
   HTTP/1.x for load balancing, session affinity and maintaining
   locality to the user.

   This document specifies a new concept in HTTP, the "alternate
   service," to address these use cases.  An alternate service can be
   used to interact with the resources on an origin server at a separate
   location on the network, possibly using a different protocol
   configuration.

1.1.  Notational Conventions

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this
   document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

   This document uses the Augmented BNF defined in [RFC5234] along with
   the "OWS", "DIGIT", "parameter", "uri-host", "port" and "delta-
   second" rules from [I-D.ietf-httpbis-p1-messaging], and uses the
   "#rule" extension defined in Section 7 of that document.


2.  Alternate Services

   On the Web, a resource is accessed through a scheme (e.g., "https" or
   "http") on a nominated host / port combination.

   These three pieces of information collectively can be used to
   establish the authority for ownership of the resource (its "origin";
   see [RFC6454]), as well as providing enough information to bootstrap
   access to it.

   This document introduces the notion of an "Alternate Service"; when



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   an origin's resources are accessible through a different protocol /
   host / port combination, it is said to have an alternate service.

   For example, an origin:

   ("http", "www.example.com", "80")

   might declare that its resources are also accessible at the alternate
   service:

   ("http2", "new.example.com", "443")

   By their nature, alternate services are explicitly at the granularity
   of an origin; i.e., they cannot be selectively applied to resources
   within an origin.

   Alternate services do not replace or change the origin for any given
   resource; in general, they are not visible to the software "above"
   the access mechanism.

   Furthermore, it is important to note that the first member of an
   alternate service tuple is different from the "scheme" component of
   an origin; it is more specific, identifying not only the major
   version of the protocol being used, but potentially communication
   options for that protocol.

   This means that clients using an alternate service will change the
   host, port and protocol that they are using to fetch resources, but
   these changes MUST NOT be propagated to the application that is using
   HTTP; from that standpoint, the URI being accessed and all
   information derived from it (scheme, host, port) are the same as
   before.

   Importantly, this includes its security context; in particular, when
   TLS [RFC5246] is in use, the alternate server will need to present a
   certificate for the origin's host name, not that of the alternate.
   Likewise, the Host header is still derived from the origin, not the
   alternate service.

   The changes SHOULD, however, be made visible in debugging tools,
   consoles, etc.

   Formally, an alternate service is identified by the combination of:

   o  An ALPN protocol, as per [I-D.ietf-tls-applayerprotoneg]
   o  A host, as per [RFC3986]





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   o  A port, as per [RFC3986]

   Additionally, each alternate service can have:

   o  A freshness lifetime, expressed in seconds; see Section 2.1.2
   o  A numeric priority; see Section 2.1.3

   Potentially, there are many ways that a client could discover the
   alternate service(s) associated with an origin; this document
   currently defines one, the Alt-Svc HTTP Header Field (Section 3).

2.1.  Client Handling for Alternate Services

2.1.1.  Host Authentication

   Clients MUST NOT use alternate services with a host other than the
   origin's without strong server authentication; this mitigates the
   attack described in Section 4.2.  One way to achieve this is for the
   alternate to use TLS with a certificate that is valid for that
   origin.

   For example, if the origin's host is "www.example.com" and an
   alternate is offered on "other.example.com" with the "http2-tls"
   protocol, and the certificate offered is valid for "www.example.com",
   the client can use the alternate.  However, if "other.example.com" is
   offered with the "http2" protocol, the client cannot use it, because
   there is no mechanism in that protocol to establish strong server
   authentication.

2.1.2.  Alternate Service Caching

   Mechanisms for discovering alternate services can associate a
   freshness lifetime with them; for example, the Alt-Svc header field
   uses the "ma" parameter.

   Clients MAY choose to use an alternate service instead of the origin
   at any time when it is considered fresh; see Section 2.1.4 for
   specific reccommendations.

   To mitigate risks associated with caching compromised values (see
   Section 4.2 for details), user agents SHOULD examine cached alternate
   services when they detect a change in network configuration, and
   remove any that could be compromised (for example, those whose
   association with the trust root is questionable).  UAs that do not
   have a means of detecting network changes SHOULD place an upper bound
   on their lifetime.





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2.1.3.  Alternate Service Priorities

   Mechanisms for discovering alternate services can associate a
   priority with them; for example, the Alt-Svc header field uses the
   "pr" parameter.

   Priorities are numeric, with a range of 1-64, and are relative to the
   origin server, which has a static priority of 32.  Higher values are
   preferable.

   Therefore, an alternate with a priority of 48 will be used in
   preference to the origin server, whereas one with a priority of 10
   will be used only when the origin server becomes unavailable.

   Note that priorities are not specific to the mechanism that an
   alternate was discovered with; i.e., there is only one "pool" of
   priorities for an origin.

2.1.4.  Using Alternate Services

   By their nature, alternate services are optional; clients are not
   required to use them.  However, it is advantageous for clients to
   behave in a predictable way when they are used.

   Therefore, if a client becomes aware of an alternate service that has
   a higher priority than a connection currently in use, the client
   SHOULD use that alternate service as soon as it is available,
   provided that the security properties of the alternate service's
   protocol are equivalent to the existing connection.

   For example, if an origin advertises a "http2" alternate service
   using an "Alt-Svc" response header field, the client ought to
   immediately establish a connection to the most preferable alternate
   service, and use it in preference to the origin connection once
   available.  The client is not required to block requests; the
   origin's connection can be used until the alternate connection is
   established.

   Furthermore, if the connection to the alternate service fails or is
   unresponsive, the client MAY fall back to using the origin, or a less
   preferable alternate service.

   When the client becomes aware of an alternate service whose protocol
   is known to have improved security properties as compared to the
   existing connection, it SHOULD abstain from using the existing
   connection until the alternate service is available, or connection to
   it has failed.  This will result in blocking requests, but avoids
   information leakage.



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   Clients SHOULD NOT fall back to a service (whether an alternate or
   the origin) that has inferior security properties without notifying
   the user.


3.  The Alt-Svc HTTP Header Field

   A HTTP(S) origin server can advertise the availability of alternate
   services to HTTP/1.1 and HTTP/2.0 clients by adding an Alt-Svc header
   field to responses.

   Alt-Svc     = 1#( alternate *( OWS ";" OWS parameter ) )
   alternate   = protocol-id "=" [ uri-host ] ":" port
   protocol-id = <ALPN protocol identifier>

   For example:

   Alt-Svc: http2=:8000

   This indicates that the "http2" protocol on the same host using the
   indicated port (in this case, 8000).

   Alt-Svc can also contain a host:

   Alt-Svc: http2-tls=other.example.com:443

   This indicates that all resources on the origin are available using
   the "http2-tls" profile on other.example.com port 443.

   It can also have multiple values:

   Alt-Svc: http2=:8000, http2-tls=other.example.com:443

   The value(s) advertised by Alt-Svc can be used by clients to open a
   new connection to one or more alternate services immediately, or
   simultaneously with subsequent requests on the same connection.

   Intermediaries MUST NOT change or append Alt-Svc values.

3.1.  Caching Alt-Svc Header Field Values

   When an alternate service is advertised using Alt-Svc, it is
   considered fresh for 24 hours from generation of the message.  This
   can be modified with the 'ma' (max-age') parameter;

   Alt-Svc: http2-tls=:443;ma=3600

   which indicates the number of seconds since the response was



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   generated the alternate service is considered fresh for.

   ma = delta-seconds

   See [I-D.ietf-httpbis-p6-cache] Section 4.2.3 for details of
   determining response age.  For example, a response:

   HTTP/1.1 200 OK
   Content-Type: text/html
   Cache-Control: 600
   Age: 30
   Alt-Svc: http2=:8000; ma=60

   indicates that an alternate service is available and usable for the
   next 60 seconds.  However, the response has already been cached for
   30 seconds (as per the Age header field value), so therefore the
   alternate service is only fresh for the 30 seconds from when this
   response was received, minus estimated transit time.

   See Section 2.1.2 for general requirements on caching alternate
   services.

   Note that the freshness lifetime for HTTP caching (here, 600 seconds)
   does not affect caching of Alt-Svc values.

3.2.  Indicating Alt-Svc Header Field Priority

   Finally, an explicit priority can be associated with an Alt-Svc
   header field value by using the "pr" parameter:

   Alt-Svc: http2:8000 ;pr=64

   See Section 2.1.3 for details of the priority mechanism.

   pr = 1*2DIGIT

   If the "pr" parameter is not present or is invalid, the default
   priority for alternate services discovered with the Alt-Svc header
   field is 48.


4.  Security Considerations

4.1.  Changing Ports

   Using an alternate service implies accessing an origin's resources on
   an alternate port, at a minimum.  An attacker that can inject
   alternate services and listen at the advertised port is therefore



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   able to hijack an origin.

   For example, an attacker that can add HTTP response header fields can
   redirect traffic to a different port on the same host using the Alt-
   Svc header field; if that port is under the attacker's control, they
   can thus masquerade as the HTTP server.

   This risk can be mitigated by restricting the ability to set the Alt-
   Svc response header field on the origin, and restricting who can open
   a port for listening on that host.

4.2.  Changing Hosts

   When the host is changed due to the use of an alternate service, it
   presents an opportunity for attackers to hijack communication to an
   origin.

   For example, if an attacker can convince a user agent to send all
   traffic for "innocent.example.org" to "evil.example.com" by
   successfully associating it as an alternate service, they can
   masquarade as that origin.  This can be done locally (see mitigations
   above) or remotely (e.g., by an intermediary as a man-in-the-middle
   attack).

   This is the reason for the requiremenet in Section 2.1.1 that any
   alternate service with a host different to the origin's be strongly
   authenticated with the origin's identity; i.e., presenting a
   certificate for the origin proves that the alternate service is
   authorized to serve traffic for the origin.

   However, this authorization is only as strong as the method used to
   authenticate the alternate service.  In particular, there are well-
   known exploits to make an attacker's certificate appear as
   legitimate.

   Alternate services could be used to persist such an attack; for
   example, an intermediary could man-in-the-middle TLS-protected
   communication to a target, and then direct all traffic to an
   alternate service with a large freshness lifetime, so that the user
   agent still directs traffic to the attacker even when not using the
   intermediary.

   As a result, there is a requirement in Section 2.1.2 to examine
   cached alternate services when a network change is detected.







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4.3.  Changing Protocols

   When the ALPN protocol is changed due to the use of an alternate
   service, the security properties of the new connection to the origin
   can be different from that of the "normal" connection to the origin,
   because the protocol identifier itself implies this.

   For example, if a "https://" URI had a protocol advertised that does
   not use some form of end-to-end encryption (most likely, TLS), it
   violates the expectations for security that the URI scheme implies.

   Therefore, clients cannot blindly use alternate services, but instead
   evaluate the option(s) presented to assure that security requirements
   and expectations (of specifications, implementations and end users)
   are met.


5.  References

5.1.  Normative References

   [I-D.ietf-httpbis-p1-messaging]
              Fielding, R. and J. Reschke, "Hypertext Transfer Protocol
              (HTTP/1.1): Message Syntax and Routing",
              draft-ietf-httpbis-p1-messaging-24 (work in progress),
              September 2013.

   [I-D.ietf-httpbis-p6-cache]
              Fielding, R., Nottingham, M., and J. Reschke, "Hypertext
              Transfer Protocol (HTTP/1.1): Caching",
              draft-ietf-httpbis-p6-cache-24 (work in progress),
              September 2013.

   [I-D.ietf-tls-applayerprotoneg]
              Friedl, S., Popov, A., Langley, A., and S. Emile,
              "Transport Layer Security (TLS) Application Layer Protocol
              Negotiation Extension", draft-ietf-tls-applayerprotoneg-02
              (work in progress), September 2013.

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

   [RFC3986]  Berners-Lee, T., Fielding, R., and L. Masinter, "Uniform
              Resource Identifier (URI): Generic Syntax", STD 66,
              RFC 3986, January 2005.

   [RFC5234]  Crocker, D. and P. Overell, "Augmented BNF for Syntax
              Specifications: ABNF", STD 68, RFC 5234, January 2008.



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   [RFC6454]  Barth, A., "The Web Origin Concept", RFC 6454,
              December 2011.

5.2.  Informative References

   [I-D.ietf-httpbis-http2]
              Belshe, M., Peon, R., Thomson, M., and A. Melnikov,
              "Hypertext Transfer Protocol version 2.0",
              draft-ietf-httpbis-http2-06 (work in progress),
              August 2013.

   [I-D.nottingham-http2-encryption]
              Nottingham, M., "Encryption for HTTP URIs Using Alternate
              Services", draft-nottingham-http2-encryption-00 (work in
              progress), September 2013.

   [RFC5246]  Dierks, T. and E. Rescorla, "The Transport Layer Security
              (TLS) Protocol Version 1.2", RFC 5246, August 2008.

   [RFC6555]  Wing, D. and A. Yourtchenko, "Happy Eyeballs: Success with
              Dual-Stack Hosts", RFC 6555, April 2012.


Appendix A.  Acknowledgements

   Thanks to Patrick McManus, Eliot Lear, Stephen Farrell, Guy Podjarny,
   Stephen Ludin, Erik Nygren, Paul Hoffman, Adam Langley and Will Chan
   for their feedback and suggestions.

   The Alt-Svc header field was influenced by the design of the
   Alternate-Protocol header in SPDY.


Appendix B.  Implementation Status

   No existing implementations.

   To bootstrap interop, first round testing is proposed as:

   1.  Alt-Svc header field in a random response on an HTTP/1 connection
       with a "http://" URL; might be first response, might be later
   2.  Advertised service is http2 (draft) ALPN token on same host,
       different port without TLS

   Expected behaviour is that the client will, upon learning about the
   alternate service, start a connection to it and use it once
   established.




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   Second round testing is proposed to focus on changing protocols:

   1.  Alt-Svc header field in a random response on an HTTP/1 connection
       with a "http://" URL; might be first response, might be later
   2.  Advertised service is http2 (draft) ALPN token on same host,
       different port using TLS; see [I-D.nottingham-http2-encryption])

   Expected behaviour is that the client will, upon learning about the
   alternate service, start a connection to it and block requests until
   it is established.

   Third round testing is proposed to focus on changing host:

   1.  Alt-Svc header field in a random response on a HTTP/2 connection
       with a "http://" URL; might be first response, might be later
   2.  Advertised service is http2 (draft) ALPN token on a different
       host, using TLS.

   Expected behaviour is that the client will, upon learning about the
   alternate service, start a connection to it and use it once
   established.

   Detailed test plans TBD.


Appendix C.  TODO

   o  GOAWAY: A GOAWAY-like frame (or just a GOAWAY modification) that
      allows an alternate service to be switched to might be suggested
      in a future revision.
   o  DNS: Alternate services are also amenable to DNS-based discovery.
      If there is sufficient interest, a future revision may include a
      proposal for that.
   o  Indicating Chosen Service: It's likely necessary for the server to
      know which protocol the user agent has chosen, and perhaps even
      the hostname (for load balancing).  This could be conveyed as part
      of the "magic", or as a request header.
   o  IPV6: The intersection between Alternate Services and Happy
      Eyeballs [RFC6555] should be investigated.
   o  ALPN strings: all of the ALPN strings in this document are
      fictional; they need to be updated based upon that specification's
      progress (and the registry, eventually).
   o  Advice for setting headers: guidelines for servers that use the
      Alt-Svc header field.







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Author's Address

   Mark Nottingham

   Email: mnot@mnot.net
   URI:   http://www.mnot.net/













































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