Network Working Group                                        E. Rescorla
Internet-Draft                                                RTFM, Inc.
Intended status: Standards Track                               R. Barnes
Expires: January 8, 2017                                         Mozilla
                                                              S. Iyengar
                                                             N. Sullivan
                                                         CloudFlare Inc.
                                                            July 7, 2016

                     Delegated Credentials for TLS


   The organizational separation between the operator of a TLS server
   and the certificate authority that provides it credentials can cause
   problems, for example when it comes to reducing the lifetime of
   certificates or supporting new cryptographic algorithms.  This
   document describes a mechanism to allow TLS server operators to
   create their own credential delegations without breaking
   compatibility with clients that do not support this specification.

Status of This Memo

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

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

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

   This Internet-Draft will expire on January 8, 2017.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2016 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents

Rescorla, et al.         Expires January 8, 2017                [Page 1]

Internet-Draft        Delegated Credentials for TLS            July 2016

   ( in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Solution Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  Related Work  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   4.  Client Behavior . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   5.  Delegated Credentials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     5.1.  Option 1a. Name Constraints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     5.2.  Option 1b. End Entities as Issuers  . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     5.3.  Option 2. Define a New Structure  . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     5.4.  Re-Use of the Master Certificate  . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   6.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   7.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   8.  References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     8.1.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     8.2.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10

1.  Introduction

   Typically, a TLS server uses a certificate provided by some entity
   other than the operator of the server (a "Certification Authority" or
   CA) [RFC5246] [RFC5280].  This organizational separation makes the
   TLS server operator dependent on the CA for some aspects of its
   operations, for example:

   o  Whenever the server operator wants to deploy a new certificate, it
      has to interact with the CA.

   o  The server operator can only use TLS authentication schemes for
      which the CA will issue credentials.

   These dependencies cause problems in practice.  Server operators
   often want to create short-lived certificates for servers in low-
   trust zones such as CDNs or remote data centers.  The risk inherent
   in cross-organizational transactions makes it infeasible to rely on
   an external CA for such short-lived credentials.

   To remove these dependencies, this document proposes a limited
   delegation mechanism that allows a TLS server operator to issue its

Rescorla, et al.         Expires January 8, 2017                [Page 2]

Internet-Draft        Delegated Credentials for TLS            July 2016

   own credentials within the scope of a certificate issued by an
   external CA.  Because the above problems do not relate to the CAs
   inherent function of validating possession of names, it is safe to
   make such delegations as long as they only enable the recipient of
   the delegation to speak for names that the CA has authorized.  For
   clarity, we will refer to the certificate issued by the CA as a
   "certificate" and the one issued by the operator as a "delegated

   [[ Ed. - We use the phrase "credential" for the sub-certificates
   since it's an open issue whether they will be certificates or not. ]]

   [[ Ed. - This document is framed as a single solution, because it
   would be best for the WG to ultimately settle on one solution to this
   problem.  However, to facilitate discussion, we outline several
   possible options for how credential can be realized.  Once the WG
   agrees on an overall approach, this draft will be revised to provide
   more details of that approach. ]]

2.  Solution Overview

   A delegated credential is a digitally signed data structure with the
   following semantic fields:

   o  A validity interval

   o  A public key (with its associated algorithm)

   o  A list of valid server names

   The signature on the credential indicates a delegation from the
   certificate which is issued to the TLS server operator.  The key pair
   used to sign a credential is presumed to be one whose public key is
   contained in an X.509 certificate that associates one or more names
   to the credential.

   A TLS handshake that uses credentials differs from a normal handshake
   in a few important ways:

   o  The client provides an extension in its ClientHello that indicates
      support for this mechanism

   o  The server provides both the certificate chain terminating in its
      certificate as well as the credential.

   o  The client uses information in the server's certificate to verify
      the signature on the credential and verify that the server is
      asserting an expected identity.

Rescorla, et al.         Expires January 8, 2017                [Page 3]

Internet-Draft        Delegated Credentials for TLS            July 2016

   o  The client uses the public key in the credential as the server's
      working key for the TLS handshake.

   o  The client uses the list of valid server names in the credential
      to verify that the credential is valid for the server.

   The credential signature is subject to the negotiated signature
   algorithms.  A credential cannot be used if the client advertises
   support for credentials however a server does not have a certificate
   which is compatible with any of the negotiated signature algorithms.

   It was noted by [J"{a}ger et al.] that certificates in use by servers
   that support outdated protocols such as SSLv2 can be used to forge
   signatures for certificates that contain the keyEncipherment KeyUsage
   [[RFC5280 section]] In order to prevent this type of cross-
   protocol attack, clients MUST NOT accept connections from
   certificates with the keyEncipherment KeyUsage.

   [[ Nick - This is a much less stringent requirement than a new flag,
   since it means that all existing ECDSA certificates can be re-used.]]

   Credentials allow the server to terminate TLS connections on behalf
   of the certificate owner.  If a credential is stolen, there is no
   mechanism for revoking it without revoking the certificate itself.
   To limit the exposure of a delegation credential compromise, servers
   MUST NOT issue credentials with a validity period longer than 7 days.
   Clients MUST NOT accept credentials with longer validity periods. [[
   TODO: which alert should the client send? ]]

   [[ Ed. - The specifics of how credentials are structured and provided
   by the server are still to be determined; see below. ]]

3.  Related Work

   Many of the use cases for delegated credentials can also be addressed
   using purely server-side mechanisms that do not require changes to
   client behavior (e.g., LURK [I-D.mglt-lurk-tls-requirements]).  These
   mechanisms, however, incur per-transaction latency, since the front-
   end server has to interact with a back-end server that holds a
   private key.  The mechanism proposed in this document allows the
   delegation to be done off-line, with no per-transaction latency.  The
   figure below compares the message flows for these two mechanisms with
   TLS 1.3 [I-D.ietf-tls-tls13].

Rescorla, et al.         Expires January 8, 2017                [Page 4]

Internet-Draft        Delegated Credentials for TLS            July 2016


   Client            Front-End            Back-End
     |----ClientHello--->|                    |
     |<---ServerHello----|                    |
     |<---Certificate----|                    |
     |                   |<-------LURK------->|
     |<---CertVerify-----|                    |
     |        ...        |                    |

   Delegated credentials:

   Client            Front-End            Back-End
     |                   |<---Cred Provision--|
     |----ClientHello--->|                    |
     |<---ServerHello----|                    |
     |<---Certificate----|                    |
     |<---CertVerify-----|                    |

   These two classes of mechanism can be complementary.  A server could
   use credentials for clients that support them, while using LURK to
   support legacy clients.

   It is possible to address the short-lived certificate concerns above
   by automating certificate issuance, e.g., with ACME
   [I-D.ietf-acme-acme].  In addition to requiring frequent
   operationally-critical interactions with an external party, this
   makes the server operator dependent on the CA's willingness to issue
   certificates with sufficiently short lifetimes.  It also fails to
   address the issues with algorithm support.  Nonetheless, existing
   automated issuance APIs like ACME may be useful for provisioning
   credentials, within an operator network.

4.  Client Behavior

   This document defines the following extension code point.

       enum {
       } ExtensionType;

   A client which supports this document SHALL send an empty
   "delegated_credential" extension in its ClientHello.

Rescorla, et al.         Expires January 8, 2017                [Page 5]

Internet-Draft        Delegated Credentials for TLS            July 2016

   [[Option 1]] A server MUST NOT send this extension.  If the extension
   is present, the server MAY send a credential.  If the extension is
   not present, the server MUST NOT send a credential.  A credential
   MUST NOT be provided unless a Certificate message is also sent.
   [[Option 2]] If the extension is present, the server MAY send a
   "delegated credential" extension containing the credential in the
   response.  If the extension is not present, the server MUST NOT send
   a credential.  A credential MUST NOT be provided unless a Certificate
   message is also sent.

   On receiving a credential and a certificate chain, the client
   validates the certificate chain and matches the end-entity
   certificate to the server's expected identity following its normal
   procedures.  It then takes the following additional steps:

   o  Verify that the current time is within the validity interval of
      the credential

   o  Verify that the server name is included in the credential

   o  Use the public key in the server's end-entity certificate to
      verify the signature on the credential

   o  Use the public key in the credential to verify the
      CertificateVerify message provided in the handshake

   [[ Ed. - This will need to be updated if the sub-certificate can be
   restricted to a subset of the names in the master certificate. ]]

5.  Delegated Credentials

   [[ Ed. - This section is currently a sketch, intended to lay out the
   design space to facilitate discussion ]]

   Credentials obviously need to have some defined structure.  It is
   possible to re-use X.509, but it may be better to define something

   The format question also mostly decides the question of how the
   credential will be signed and delivered to the client.  If the
   credential is an X.509 certificate, then it will be signed in that
   format, and probably provided in the TLS Certificate message as the
   end-entity certificate.  If some new structure is devised, then it
   will need to define a signature method, and it will probably make
   more sense to carry it in a TLS extension.

   The delivery mechanism is mostly a trivial question, but given that
   the server is switching between a normal certificate chain and one

Rescorla, et al.         Expires January 8, 2017                [Page 6]

Internet-Draft        Delegated Credentials for TLS            July 2016

   including a credential based on a ClientHello extension, there could
   be some impact on the ease of implementation.  For example, it may be
   easier to change the extensions in the ServerHello than to switch the
   certificate chain, or alternately it may be easier to simply let the
   server operator provide a whole chain terminating in the credential,
   depending on how much sanity checking the server does.

5.1.  Option 1a.  Name Constraints

   It would be consistent with the requirements above to realize
   credentials as sub-certificates by having the CA issue a subordinate
   CA certificate to the TLS server operator, with a nameConstraints
   extension encoding the names the server operator is authorized for.
   Then the credentials would simply be normal end-entity certificates
   issued under this subordinate.

   In order for this solution to be safe the subordinate CA certificate
   needs to have a critical nameConstraints extension.  Historically,
   this solution has been unworkable due to legacy clients that could
   not process name constraints.  However, since in this case we require
   the client to indicate support, it may be possible to have critical
   name constraints without compatibility impact.


   o  Re-use existing issuance and validation code

   o  No change to client certificate validation and CertificateVerify


   o  Requires server operator to get a name-constrained subordinate CA

   o  Name constraints are not universally recognized

   o  X.509 provides much richer semantics than required

5.2.  Option 1b.  End Entities as Issuers

   One could also imagine a scheme in which the server could use an end-
   entity certificate as the issuer for a sub-certificate.  Since
   servers are typically issued end-entity certificates by CAs, this
   could align better with CA issuance practices.

   It's important to note that this would not enable existing end-entity
   certificates to be used to issue sub-certificates.  That would create

Rescorla, et al.         Expires January 8, 2017                [Page 7]

Internet-Draft        Delegated Credentials for TLS            July 2016

   risks such as those noted in [J"{a}ger et al.].  So there would be a
   need to define some marker that would be inserted into an end-entity
   certificate to indicate that it could be used to issue sub-
   certificates.  It may be enough to require the certificate to not
   contain a keyEncipherment KeyUsage.


   o  No change to client CertificateVerify processing (still uses last
      cert in the chain)


   o  Violates the semantics of the CA bit in basicConstraints

   o  Requires change to X.509 validation logic to allow sub-

   o  X.509 provides much richer semantics than required

5.3.  Option 2.  Define a New Structure

   While X.509 forbids end-entity certificates from being used as
   issuers for other certificates, it is perfectly fine to use them to
   issue other signed objects as long as the certificate contains the
   digitalSignature key usage (RFC5280 section  We could
   define a new signed object format that would encode only the
   semantics that are needed for this application.  For example, the TLS
   "digitally-signed" structure could be used:

   digitally-signed struct {
     uint64 notBefore;
     uint64 notAfter;
     SignatureScheme algorithm;
     ServerName serverName;
     opaque publicKey<0..2^24-1>;
   } DelegatedCredential;

   The ServerNameList can be defined as follows (similar to RFC 6066
   section 3): ~~~~~~~~~~ struct { NameType name_type; select
   (name_type) { case host_name: HostName; } name; } ServerName;

   enum { host_name(0), (255) } NameType;

   opaque HostName<1..2^16-1>; ~~~~~~~~~~

   This would avoid any mis-match in semantics with X.509, and would
   likely require more processing code in the client.  The code changes

Rescorla, et al.         Expires January 8, 2017                [Page 8]

Internet-Draft        Delegated Credentials for TLS            July 2016

   would be localized to the TLS stack, which has the advantage of
   avoiding changes to security-critical and often delicate PKI code
   (though of course moves that complexity to the TLS stack).


   o  No change to client certificate validation

   o  No risk of conflict with X.509 semantics


   o  Requires new logic for generating and verifying credentials

   o  Requires changes to client CertificateVerify processing

5.4.  Re-Use of the Master Certificate

   [[ OPEN ISSUE ]]

   The certificate can be configured so that it is usable directly as a
   TLS end-entity certificate (this is the natural design for Option 2)
   or alternately can be configured so that it is not acceptable as a
   TLS server certificate but rather can only be used for signing sub-
   certificates.  In the former case, the server operator need only have
   one certificate, but with the risk that if the TLS server is
   compromised the attacker could issue themselves an arbitrary number
   of sub-certificates.  Conversely, the master certificate may be
   configured so that it is not directly usable, thus requiring the
   name-holder to get two certificates, one for signing credentials and
   one for use in its TLS server.  This adds additional complexity for
   the operator but allows the master certificate to be offline.

6.  IANA Considerations

7.  Security Considerations

8.  References

8.1.  Normative References

   [RFC5246]  Dierks, T. and E. Rescorla, "The Transport Layer Security
              (TLS) Protocol Version 1.2", RFC 5246,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC5246, August 2008,

Rescorla, et al.         Expires January 8, 2017                [Page 9]

Internet-Draft        Delegated Credentials for TLS            July 2016

   [RFC5280]  Cooper, D., Santesson, S., Farrell, S., Boeyen, S.,
              Housley, R., and W. Polk, "Internet X.509 Public Key
              Infrastructure Certificate and Certificate Revocation List
              (CRL) Profile", RFC 5280, DOI 10.17487/RFC5280, May 2008,

8.2.  Informative References

              Barnes, R., Hoffman-Andrews, J., and J. Kasten, "Automatic
              Certificate Management Environment (ACME)", draft-ietf-
              acme-acme-02 (work in progress), March 2016.

              Rescorla, E., "The Transport Layer Security (TLS) Protocol
              Version 1.3", draft-ietf-tls-tls13-13 (work in progress),
              May 2016.

              Migault, D. and K. Ma, "Authentication Model and Security
              Requirements for the TLS/DTLS Content Provider Edge Server
              Split Use Case", draft-mglt-lurk-tls-requirements-00 (work
              in progress), January 2016.

Authors' Addresses

   Eric Rescorla
   RTFM, Inc.


   Richard Barnes


   Subodh Iyengar


   Nick Sullivan
   CloudFlare Inc.


Rescorla, et al.         Expires January 8, 2017               [Page 10]