Telechat Review of draft-ietf-dhc-forcerenew-nonce-

Request Review of draft-ietf-dhc-forcerenew-nonce
Requested rev. no specific revision (document currently at 07)
Type Telechat Review
Team General Area Review Team (Gen-ART) (genart)
Deadline 2012-02-14
Requested 2012-02-09
Other Reviews Genart Last Call review of - by Ben Campbell (diff)
Review State Completed
Reviewer Ben Campbell
Review review-ietf-dhc-forcerenew-nonce-genart-telechat-campbell-2012-05-14
Posted at
Draft last updated 2012-05-14
Review completed: 2012-05-14


I am the assigned Gen-ART reviewer for this draft. For background on Gen-ART, please see the FAQ at <>.

Please resolve these comments along with any other Last Call comments you may receive.

Document: draft-ietf-dhc-forcerenew-nonce-03
Reviewer: Ben Campbell
Review Date: 2012-02-06
IETF LC End Date: 2012-02-06

Summary:This draft is not quite ready for publication as a proposed standard. There are some potentially significant issues that should be addressed first.

[Note: Hopefully this draft has had or will have a SecDir review, since it seems ripe for significant security implications.]

*** Major issues:

-- I admit to not being a DHCP expert, but If I understand this draft correctly, it proposes to send what is effectively a secret-key in a DHCPACK request, then use that key to authenticate a force renew message. It seems like any eavesdropper could sniff that key, and use it to spoof force renew requests. The introduction mentions that there may be some environments where the use of RFC3118 authentication could be relaxed, and offers an example of such an environment. But nowhere does this draft appear to be limited in scope to such environments. 

I think some additional text in (perhaps in the security considerations) is needed to explain either why the vulnerability to eavesdroppers is either okay in general, or limits the mechanism's use to environment where it is okay. It also seems like that, in the best case, this mechanism proves only that a Forcerenew request comes from the same DHCP server as in the original transaction, but otherwise does not prove anything about the identity of that server. If so, it would be worth mentioning it.

-- The mechanism appears to be limited to HMAC-MD5, and there does not appear to be any way of selecting other algorithms. Is HMAC-MD5 really sufficient as the only choice? Is there some expectation that stronger mechanisms or algorithm extensibility would be too expensive? (Perhaps the extensibility method would be to specify another mechanism that's identical except for a different HMAC algorithm. But if that's the intent it should be mentioned.)

*** Minor issues:

-- Section 1 " 
In such environments the mandatory coupling between FORCERENEW and DHCP Authentication [RFC3118] can be relaxed."

It's not clear to me what connection that assertion has with this draft. Is there an intent that the proposed mechanisms be used only in such environments? I don't find any language scoping this proposal to any particular environment.

-- section 3:

Does this draft update either 3203 or 3118? If so, please state that explicitly in the abstract, introduction, and draft headers. (I think it must at least update 3203, since that draft requires the use of 3118, and this draft relaxes that.)

-- section 3.1, last paragraph: "...only if the client and server are not using any other authentication..."

That seems to conflict with the statement in section 3 that this mechanism is only used if RFC3118 is not used. That is, it's not a choice between this mechanism or any other mechanism, it's a choice between this mechanism or 3118.

-- section 3.1.3, 2nd paragraph: "The server SHOULD NOT include this option unless the client has indicated its capability in a DHCP Discovery message."

Why not; what harm would it do? And on the other hand, if you want to discourage it, why not go all the way to "MUST NOT"?

-- section 3.1.3, 5th paragraph: "...  computes an HMAC-MD5 of the Forcerenew message using the Forcerenew nonce …"

Using it how? Is it the secret key for the HMAC calculation? (If so, why aren't we calling it a "key" in the first place?)

-- section 3.1.4, 1st paragraph: "DHCP servers that support Forcerenew nonce Protocol authentication MUST include the DHCP Forcerenew Nonce protocol authentication option…"

Only if the client advertised it, right? Otherwise, this seems to conflict with the previous SHOULD NOT.

-- section 3.1.4, 4th paragraph: "…  
the client computes an HMAC-MD5 over the DHCP Forcerenew message, using the Forcerenew Nonce …"

Using it how?

-- section 6:

You mention this mechanism is vulnerable to MiTM attacks. Why is this okay? Are there some environments where it is good enough and others where it is not? (Also, do they really need to be MitM attackers? Seems like any eavesdropper could learn the nonce.)

*** Nits/editorial comments:

-- Abstract, second sentence:

I have trouble parsing this sentence. Are the propositions correct?

-- Section 3.1.1,4th paragraph: "… configured to require …"

Do you mean configured to "require", or configured to "use"? I would normally take "requires" to mean that the server would not work with clients that don't advertise support for the mechanism.

-- section 3.1.1, message flow diagram:

It would be helpful if you could avoid widowing the top of the diagram. One has to keep flipping back to see the labels.

-- section 3.1.3, 5th paragraph: 

Please expand "RDM"

-- section 3.1.4, first paragraph: "The client MUST…"

A client that supports this mechanism MUST…

-- section 3.1.4, 2nd and third paragraph, 1st sentence of each:

I'm confused by this sentence of each paragraph. Are they intended as conditionals for the rest of the respective paragraph?