DNSOP Working Group                                         P. Thomassen
Internet-Draft                         deSEC, Secure Systems Engineering
Intended status: Standards Track                               N. Wisiol
Expires: 2 June 2022                deSEC, Technische Universit├Ąt Berlin
                                                        29 November 2021

  Automatic DNSSEC Bootstrapping using Authenticated Signals from the
                            Zone's Operator


   This document introduces an in-band method for DNS operators to
   publish arbitrary information about the zones they are authoritative
   for, in an authenticated fashion and on a per-zone basis.  The
   mechanism allows managed DNS operators to securely announce DNSSEC
   key parameters for zones under their management, including for zones
   that are not currently securely delegated.

   Whenever DS records are absent for a zone's delegation, this signal
   enables the parent's registry or registrar to cryptographically
   validate the CDS/CDNSKEY records found at the child's apex.  The
   parent can then provision DS records for the delegation without
   resorting to out-of-band validation or weaker types of cross-checks
   such as "Accept after Delay" ([RFC8078]).

   This document updates [RFC8078] and replaces its Section 3 with
   Section 3.2 of this document.

   [ Ed note: Text inside square brackets ([]) is additional background
   information, answers to frequently asked questions, general musings,
   etc.  They will be removed before publication.  This document is
   being collaborated on at https://github.com/desec-io/draft-thomassen-
   dnsop-dnssec-bootstrapping/ (https://github.com/desec-io/draft-
   thomassen-dnsop-dnssec-bootstrapping/).  The most recent version of
   the document, open issues, etc. should all be available there.  The
   authors gratefully accept pull requests. ]

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 https://datatracker.ietf.org/drafts/current/.

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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 2 June 2022.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     1.1.  Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     1.2.  Requirements Notation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   2.  Signaling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     2.1.  Chain of Trust  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     2.2.  Signaling Names . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   3.  Bootstrapping a DNSSEC Delegation . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     3.1.  Signaling Consent to Act as the Child's Signer  . . . . .   6
       3.1.1.  Example . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     3.2.  Validating CDS/CDNSKEY Records for DNSSEC
           Bootstrapping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
       3.2.1.  Example . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     3.3.  Triggers  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     3.4.  Limitations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   4.  Operational Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     4.1.  Child DNS Operator  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     4.2.  Parental Agent  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   5.  Implementation Status . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     5.1.  Child DNS Operator-side . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     5.2.  Parental Agent-side . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   6.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   7.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   8.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   9.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   Appendix A.  Change History (to be removed before publication)  .  13

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   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14

1.  Introduction

   Securing a DNS delegation for the first time requires that the
   Child's DNSSEC parameters be conveyed to the Parent through some
   trusted channel.  How exactly this is done depends on the
   relationship the Child has with the Parent.

   In general, the communication has to occur between the DNSSEC key
   holder and the Parent registry.  It is often the case that the key is
   held by the Child DNS Operator.  Furthermore, depending on the
   circumstances, the communication may also involve the Registrar,
   possibly via the Registrant (for details, see [RFC7344], Appendix A).

   As observed in [RFC7344], this is often a manual process -- and not
   an easy one.  Any manual process is susceptible to mistakes and/or
   errors.  In addition, due to the annoyance factor of the process,
   involved parties may avoid the process of getting a DS record set
   published in the first place.

   To alleviate these problems, automated provisioning of DS records has
   been specified in ([RFC8078]).  It is based on the Parental Agent
   (registry or registrar) fetching DNSSEC key parameters in the form of
   CDS and CDNSKEY records ([RFC7344]) from the Child zone's apex, and
   validating them somehow.  This validation can be done using DNSSEC
   itself if the objective is to update an existing DS record (such as
   during key rollover).  However, when bootstrapping a DNSSEC
   delegation, the Child zone has no existing DNSSEC validation path,
   and other means to ensure the CDS/CDNSKEY records' legitimacy must be

   For lack of a comprehensive DNS-innate solution, either out-of-band
   methods have been used so far to complete the chain of trust, or
   cryptographic validation has been entirely dispensed with, in
   exchange for weaker types of cross-checks such as "Accept after
   Delay" ([RFC8078] Section 3.3).  An in-band validation method for
   enabling DNSSEC has been missing.

   This document aims to close this gap by introducing an in-band method
   for DNS Operators to publish arbitrary information about the zones
   they are authoritative for, in an authenticated manner and on a per-
   zone basis.  The mechanism allows managed DNS Operators to securely
   announce DNSSEC key parameters for zones under their management.  The
   Parent can then use this signal to cryptographically validate the
   CDS/CDNSKEY records found at an insecure Child zone's apex, and upon
   success secure the delegation.

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   While applicable to the vast majority of domains, the protocol does
   not support certain edge cases, such as excessively long Child zone
   names, or DNSSEC bootstrapping for in-bailiwick domains (see
   Section 3.4).

   Readers are expected to be familiar with DNSSEC, including [RFC4033],
   [RFC4034], [RFC4035], [RFC6781], [RFC7344], and [RFC8078].

1.1.  Terminology

   This section defines the terminology used in this document.

   Child  The entity on record that has the delegation of the domain
      from the Parent.

   Parent  The domain in which the Child in registered.

   Child DNS Operator  The entity that maintains and publishes the zone
      information for the Child DNS.

   Parental Agent  The entity that has the authority to insert DS
      records into the Parent zone on behalf of the Child.  (It could
      the the registry, registrar, a reseller, or some other authorized

   Signaling Domain  A hostname from the Child's NS record set, prefixed
      with the label _dsauth.  There are as many Signaling Domains as
      there are distinct NS targets.

   Signaling Zone  The zone which is authoritative for a given Signaling

   Signaling Name  The labels that are prefixed to a Signaling Domain in
      order to identify a Child zone's name (see Section 2.2).

   Signaling Record  A DNS record located at a Signaling Name under a
      Signaling Domain.  Signaling Records are used by the Child DNS
      Operator to publish information about the Child.

   CDS/CDNSKEY  This notation refers to CDS and/or CDNSKEY, i.e., one or

   Base32hex Encoding  "Base 32 Encoding with Extended Hex Alphabet" as
      per [RFC4648].

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1.2.  Requirements Notation

   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.

2.  Signaling

   When setting up initial trust, the Child zone's CDS/CDNSKEY RRsets
   need to be authenticated.  This is achieved using an authentication
   signal from the Child DNS Operator that the Parent can discover and
   validate, thus transferring trust from the Child DNS Operator to the
   Child zone.

2.1.  Chain of Trust

   If a Child DNS Operator implements the protocol, each Signaling Zone
   MUST be securely delegated, i.e. have a valid DNSSEC chain of trust.

   For example, when performing DNSSEC bootstrapping for a Child zone
   with NS records ns1.example.net and ns2.example.net, the Child DNS
   Operator needs to ensure that a valid DNSSEC chain of trust exists
   for the zone(s) that are authoritative for the Signaling Domains
   _dsauth.ns1.example.net and _dsauth.ns2.example.net.

2.2.  Signaling Names

   To publish a piece of information about the Child zone in an
   authenticated fashion, the Child DNS Operator MUST publish one or
   more Signaling Records at the Child's Signaling Name under each
   Signaling Domain.

   Signaling Records MUST be accompanied by RRSIG records created with
   the corresponding Signaling Zone's key(s).  The type and contents of
   these Signaling Records are detailed in Section 3.1.

   The Signaling Name is identical to the Child name, with the final
   root label removed.

3.  Bootstrapping a DNSSEC Delegation

   Child DNS Operators and Parental Agents who wish to use CDS/CDNSKEY
   records for DNSSEC bootstrapping SHOULD support the protocol
   described in this section.

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3.1.  Signaling Consent to Act as the Child's Signer

   To confirm its willingness to act as the Child's delegated signer and
   authenticate the Child's CDS/CDNSKEY RRsets, the Child DNS Operator
   MUST co-publish them at the corresponding Signaling Name under each
   Signaling Domain as defined in Section 2.2.

   Existing use of CDS/CDNSKEY records is specified at the Child apex
   only ([RFC7344], Section 4.1).  This protocol extends the use of
   these record types to non-apex owner names for the purpose of DNSSEC
   bootstrapping.  To exclude the possibility of semantic collision,
   there MUST NOT be a zone cut at a Signaling Name.

   Unlike the CDS/CDNSKEY records at the Child's apex, Signaling Records
   MUST be signed with the corresponding Signaling Zone's key(s).  Their
   contents MUST be identical to the corresponding records published at
   the Child's apex.

3.1.1.  Example

   For the purposes of bootstrapping the Child zone example.co.uk with
   NS records ns1.example.net and ns2.example.net, the required
   Signaling Domains are _dsauth.ns1.example.net and

   In the zones containing these domains, the Child DNS Operator
   authenticates the CDS/CDNSKEY records found at the Child's apex by
   co-publishing them at the names:


   The records are accompanied by RRSIG records created using the key(s)
   of the respective Signaling Zone.

3.2.  Validating CDS/CDNSKEY Records for DNSSEC Bootstrapping

   This section replaces Section 3 of [RFC8078].

   To validate a Child's CDS/CDNSKEY RRset for DNSSEC bootstrapping, the
   Parental Agent, knowing both the Child zone name and its NS
   hostnames, MUST execute the following steps:

   1.  verify that the Child is not currently securely delegated;

   2.  query the CDS/CDNSKEY records at the Child zone apex directly
       from each of the authoritative servers listed in the delegation's
       NS record set;

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   3.  query the CDS/CDNSKEY records located at the Signaling Name under
       each Signaling Domain using a trusted DNS resolver and enforce
       DNSSEC validation;

   4.  check (separately by record type) that all record sets retrieved
       in Steps 2 and 3 have equal contents;

   If the above steps succeed without error, the CDS/CDNSKEY records are
   successfully validated, and the Parental Agent can proceed with the
   publication of the DS record set under the precautions described in
   [RFC8078], Section 5.

   If, however, an error condition occurs, in particular:

   *  in Step 1: the Child is already securely delegated;

   *  in Step 2: any failure during the retrieval of the CDS/CDNSKEY
      records located at the Child apex from any of the authoritative
      nameservers, with an empty record set qualifying as a failure;

   *  in Step 3: any failure to retrieve the CDS/CDNSKEY RRsets located
      at the Signaling Name under any Signaling Domain, including
      failure of DNSSEC validation, unauthenticated data (AD bit not
      set), or an empty record set;

   *  in Step 4: inconsistent responses;

   the Parental Agent MUST abort the procedure.

3.2.1.  Example

   To verify the CDS/CDNSKEY records for the Child example.co.uk, the
   Parental Agent (assuming that the Child delegation's NS records are
   ns1.example.net and ns2.example.net)

   1.  checks that the Child zone is not yet securely delegated;

   2.  queries CDS/CDNSKEY records for example.co.uk directly from
       ns1.example.net and ns2.example.net;

   3.  queries the CDS/CDNSKEY records located at (see Section 2.2)


   4.  checks that the CDS/CDNSKEY record sets retrieved in Steps 2 and
       3 agree across responses.

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   If all these steps succeed, the Parental Agent can proceed to publish
   a DS record set as indicated by the validated CDS/CDNSKEY records.

3.3.  Triggers

   [ Clarity of this section needs to be improved. ]

   Parental Agents SHOULD trigger the procedure described in Section 3.2
   once one of the following conditions is fulfilled:

   *  The Parental Agent receives a new or updated NS record set for a

   *  The Parental Agent encounters Signaling Records for its Children
      during a scan (e.g. daily) of known Signaling Domains (derived
      from the NS records found in the Parent zone).

      To perform such a scan, the Parental Agent iterates over some or
      all of its delegations and strips the first label off each one to
      construct the set of immediate ancestors of its children.  (For
      delegations one level below the Parent's apex, such as second-
      level domain registrations, this will simply be the name of the
      Parent zone.)  The Parental Agent then uses these names to compute
      the second label of the Signaling Names as described in
      Section 2.2.  The scan is completed by either

      -  performing a targeted NSEC walk starting one level below the
         Signaling Domain, at the label that encodes the Child's
         ancestor; or by

      -  performing a zone transfer of the zone containing the (relevant
         part of the) Signaling Domain, if the Signaling Zone operator
         allows it, and iterating over its contents.

      The Child's name is constructed by prepending the first label of
      the encountered Signaling Names to the ancestor name from which
      the Signaling Name's second label was computed;

   *  The Parental Agent encounters Signaling Records during a
      proactive, opportunistic scan (e.g. daily queries for the
      Signaling Records of some or all of its delegations);

   *  Any other condition as deemed appropriate by local policy.

   One of the inputs of the bootstrapping algorithm in Section 3.2 is
   the NS record set of the Child's delegation.  It is therefore
   necessary to establish knowledge of the delegation's NS record set
   before firing the trigger.

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   In some cases, the trigger context contains reliable information
   about the Child's delegation, such as when bootstrapping is triggered
   by the registrant changing their NS record set, or during a daily
   scan of existing delegations.  In such cases, the delegation's NS
   RRset can be used as is.

   In cases where the trigger context does not provide sufficient
   knowledge of the NS record set, the Parental Agent MUST fetch the
   delegation's NS record set and ensure that the proper NS record set
   is fed to the bootstrapping algorithm (Section 3.2).

   In particular, when discovering Signaling Names by means of an NSEC
   walk or zone transfer, the Parental Agent MUST NOT assume that the
   nameserver(s) under whose Signaling Domain(s) a Signaling Name is
   discovered is in fact authoritative for the corresponding Child.
   Before firing the trigger for a particular candidate Child, the
   Parental Agent MUST ascertain that the Child's delegation actually
   contains the nameserver hostname under whose Signaling Domain the
   scan occurred.

3.4.  Limitations

   As a consequence of Step 3 in Section 3.2, DS bootstrapping does not
   work for in-bailiwick delegations, as no pre-existing chain of trust
   to the Child domain is available during bootstrapping.

   The protocol is further restricted by the fact that the fully
   qualified Signaling Names fit within the general limits that apply to
   DNS names (such as their length and their label count).

4.  Operational Recommendations

4.1.  Child DNS Operator

   To keep the size of the Signaling Zones minimal and bulk processing
   efficient (such as via NSEC walks or zone transfers), Child DNS
   Operators SHOULD remove Signaling Records which are found to have
   been acted upon.

   Signaling Domains SHOULD be delegated as zones of their own, so that
   the Signaling Zone's apex coincides with the Signaling Domain (such
   as _dsauth.ns1.example.net).  While it is permissible for the
   Signaling Domain to be contained in a Signaling Zone of fewer labels
   (such as example.net), a zone cut ensures that bootstrapping
   activities do not require modifications of the zone containing the
   nameserver hostname.

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   In addition, Signaling Zones SHOULD use NSEC to allow efficient
   discovery of pending bootstrapping operations by means of zone
   walking (see Section 3.3).  This is especially useful for bulk
   processing after a Child DNS Operator has enabled the protocol.

4.2.  Parental Agent

   It is RECOMMENDED to perform queries within Signaling Domains
   (Section 3.2) with an (initially) cold resolver cache as to retrieve
   the most current information regardless of TTL.  (When a batch job is
   used to attempt bootstrapping for a large number of delegations, the
   cache does not need to get cleared in between.)

   [It is expected that Signaling Records have few consumers only, so
   that caching would not normally have a performance benefit.  On the
   other hand, perhaps it is better to RECOMMEND low TTLs instead?]

5.  Implementation Status

   *Note to the RFC Editor*: please remove this entire section before

5.1.  Child DNS Operator-side

   *  Knot DNS supports manual creation of non-apex CDS/CDNSKEY records.

   *  PowerDNS supports manual creation of non-apex CDS/CDNSKEY records.

   *  Proof-of-concept Signaling Domains with several thousand Signaling
      Names exist at _dsauth.ns1.desec.io and _dsauth.ns2.desec.org.
      Signaling Names can be discovered via NSEC walking.  Some other
      operators are planning an experimental implementation.

   *  A tool to automatically generate signaling records for
      bootstrapping purposes is under development by the authors.

5.2.  Parental Agent-side

   *  A tool to retrieve and process Signaling Records for bootstrapping
      purposes, either directly or via zone walking, is available at
      https://github.com/desec-io/dsbootstrap (https://github.com/desec-
      io/dsbootstrap).  The tool outputs the validated DS records which
      then can be added to the Parent zone.

   *  Some registries/registrars are planning experimental
      implementations of the protocol.

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6.  Security Considerations

   The protocol adds authentication to the CDS/CDNSKEY-based
   bootstrapping concept of [RFC8078], while removing nothing.  Its
   security level is therefore strictly higher than that of existing
   approaches described in that document (e.g.  "Accept after Delay").
   Apart from this general improvement, the same Security Considerations
   apply as in [RFC8078].

   The level of rigor in Section 3.2 is needed to prevent publication of
   a half-backed DS RRset (authorized only under a subset of NS
   hostnames).  This ensures that an operator in a multi-homed setup
   cannot enable DNSSEC unless all other operators agree. [ TODO In
   principle, this applies to any CDS update.  Should we phrase it as a
   general update to [RFC8078]? ]

   [ Thoughts on the Chain of Trust:

   Actors in the chain(s) of trust of the Signaling Zone(s) (the DNS
   Operator themselves, plus entities further up in the chain) can
   undermine the protocol.  However,

   *  that's possible with CDS/CDNSKEY, too (new method is not weaker);

   *  if the Child DNS Operator doesn't trust the zones in which its NS
      hostnames live (including their nameservers' A records) because
      their path from the root is untrusted, you probably don't want to
      trust that operator as a whole;

   *  when bootstrapping is done upon receipt of a new NS record set,
      the window of opportunity is very small;

   *  mitigation exists by diversifying e.g. the nameserver hostname's
      TLDs, which is advisable anyways;

   *  correct bootstrapping is easily monitored by the Child DNS


7.  IANA Considerations

   *TODO:* reserve _dsauth?

   This document has no IANA actions.

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8.  Acknowledgements

   Thanks to Brian Dickson, Ondřej Caletka, John R.  Levine,
   Christian Elmerot, and Oli Schacher for reviewing draft proposals and
   offering comments and suggestions.

   Thanks also to Steve Crocker, Hugo Salgado, and Ulrich Wisser for
   early-stage brainstorming.

9.  Normative References

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

   [RFC4033]  Arends, R., Austein, R., Larson, M., Massey, D., and S.
              Rose, "DNS Security Introduction and Requirements",
              RFC 4033, DOI 10.17487/RFC4033, March 2005,

   [RFC4034]  Arends, R., Austein, R., Larson, M., Massey, D., and S.
              Rose, "Resource Records for the DNS Security Extensions",
              RFC 4034, DOI 10.17487/RFC4034, March 2005,

   [RFC4035]  Arends, R., Austein, R., Larson, M., Massey, D., and S.
              Rose, "Protocol Modifications for the DNS Security
              Extensions", RFC 4035, DOI 10.17487/RFC4035, March 2005,

   [RFC4648]  Josefsson, S., "The Base16, Base32, and Base64 Data
              Encodings", RFC 4648, DOI 10.17487/RFC4648, October 2006,

   [RFC6781]  Kolkman, O., Mekking, W., and R. Gieben, "DNSSEC
              Operational Practices, Version 2", RFC 6781,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC6781, December 2012,

   [RFC7344]  Kumari, W., Gudmundsson, O., and G. Barwood, "Automating
              DNSSEC Delegation Trust Maintenance", RFC 7344,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7344, September 2014,

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   [RFC8078]  Gudmundsson, O. and P. Wouters, "Managing DS Records from
              the Parent via CDS/CDNSKEY", RFC 8078,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC8078, March 2017,

   [RFC8174]  Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC
              2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174,
              May 2017, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8174>.

Appendix A.  Change History (to be removed before publication)

   *  draft-thomassen-dnsop-dnssec-bootstrapping-03

   |  Clarified importance of record cleanup by moving paragraph up.
   |  Pointed out limitations.
   |  Replace [RFC8078] Section 3 with our Section 3.2.
   |  Changed _boot label to _dsauth.
   |  Removed hashing of Child name components in Signaling Names.
   |  Editorial changes.

   *  draft-thomassen-dnsop-dnssec-bootstrapping-02

   |  Reframed as an authentication mechanism for RFC 8078.
   |  Removed multi-signer use case (focus on RFC 8078 authentication).
   |  Triggers need to fetch NS records (if not implicit from context).
   |  Improved title.
   |  Recognized that hash collisions are dealt with by Child apex
   |  check.

   *  draft-thomassen-dnsop-dnssec-bootstrapping-01

   |  Add section on Triggers.
   |  Clarified title.
   |  Improved abstract.
   |  Require CDS/CDNSKEY records at the Child.

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   |  Reworked Signaling Name scheme.
   |  Recommend using cold cache for consumption.
   |  Updated terminology (replace "Bootstrapping" by "Signaling").
   |  Added NSEC recommendation for Bootstrapping Zones.
   |  Added multi-signer use case.
   |  Editorial changes.

   *  draft-thomassen-dnsop-dnssec-bootstrapping-00

   |  Initial public draft.

Authors' Addresses

   Peter Thomassen
   deSEC, Secure Systems Engineering

   Email: peter@desec.io

   Nils Wisiol
   deSEC, Technische Universit├Ąt Berlin

   Email: nils@desec.io

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