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Versions: 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 RFC 8904

IETF                                                           A. Vesely
Internet-Draft                                            March 30, 2020
Intended status: Informational
Expires: October 1, 2020

              DNSWL Email Authentication Method Extension


   This document describes an additional Email Authentication Method
   compliant with RFC 8601.  The method consists in looking up the
   sender's IP address in a DNS whitelist.  This document is provided
   for information in case the method is seen in the field, as well as
   to suggest a useful practice and register the relevant keywords.

   This document does not consider black lists.

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

   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 October 1, 2020.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2020 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
   (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) 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.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Method Details  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  TXT Record Contents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   4.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     4.1.  Email Authentication Methods  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     4.2.  Email Authentication Property Type  . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     4.3.  Email Authentication Result Names . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   5.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     5.1.  Over Quota Signaling  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     5.2.  Security of DNSSEC Validation . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     5.3.  Inherited Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   6.  References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     6.1.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     6.2.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   Appendix A.  Example  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   Appendix B.  Known Implementation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   Appendix C.  Future possibilities of the 'dns' ptype  . . . . . .  13
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14

1.  Introduction

   One of the many checks that mail servers carry out is to query domain
   name system whitelists (DNSWL).  That method is fully discussed in
   [RFC5782].  The DNS [RFC1034] lookup is based on the connecting
   client's IP address, IPv4 or IPv6, and returns zero or more A
   records.  The latter are IPv4 IP addresses in the range 127/8.
   Depending on the query, TXT records with varying content can also be
   retrieved.  Query examples are given in Appendix A.

   Since the IP address is known as soon as the connection is accepted,
   this check can occur very early in an SMTP transaction.  Its result
   can be used to counterweight policies that typically occur at early
   stages too, such as the Sender Policy Framework (SPF, the last
   paragraph of Appendix D.3 of [RFC7208] is also illustrated in
   Appendix A).  In addition, the result of a DNSWL lookup can also be
   used at later stages; for example, a delivery agent can use it to
   learn the trustworthiness of a mail relay in order to estimate the
   spamminess of an email message.  The latter possibility needs a place
   to collect query results for downstream use, which is precisely what
   the Authentication-Results header field aims at providing.

   Results often contain additional data, encoded according to DNSWL-
   specific criteria.  The method described in this document considers
   only whitelists --one of the major branches described by [RFC5782].
   There are also black/block lists, DNSBL, and combined lists.  Since
   they all have the same structure, the abbreviation DNSxL is used to

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   mean any.  Now, the core procedures of a mail transfer agent (MTA)
   tend to be quite general, leaving particular cases to be handled by
   add-on modules.  In the case of combined lists, the boundary MTA (see
   [RFC5598]) which carries out the check and possibly stores the
   result, has to be able to discern at least the color of each entry,
   as that is required to make accept/reject decisions.  This document
   provides for storing the result when the DNSxL record to be reported
   is a whitelisting one.

   Data conveyed in A and TXT records can be stored as method's
   properties.  The meaning of such data varies widely at the mercy of
   the list operator, hence the queried zone has to be stored as well.
   Mail site operators who configure their MTAs to query specific DNWSLs
   marry the policies of those lists, as, in effect, they become
   tantamount to local policies, albeit outsourced.  Downstream agents
   who know DNSWL-specific encoding and understand the meaning of that
   data, can use it to make delivery or display decisions.  For example,
   a mail filter which detected heuristic evidence of scam, can
   counterweight such information with the trustworthiness score encoded
   in the A response, so as to protect agains false positives.  MUAs can
   display those results, or use them to decide how to report abusive
   messages, if configured to do so.

   This document describes a usage of TXT fields consistent with other
   authentication methods.  Namely, to serve the domain name in the TXT
   record.  That way, a downstream filter could also consider whether
   the sending agent is aligned with the author domain, with semantics
   similar to [RFC7489].

   At the time of this writing, this method is implemented by
   [Courier-MTA], an outline of the implementation is given in
   Appendix B.

2.  Method Details

   The result of the method states how the query did, up to the
   interpretation of the returned data.

   The method has four possible results:

   pass:       The query successfully returned applicable records.  This
               result is usually accompanied by one or both the policy
               properties described below.  Agents unable to interpret
               those properties can still derive a positive value from
               the fact that the sender is whitelisted.
   none:       The query worked but yielded no A record, or returned
               NXDOMAIN, so the sender is not whitelisted.

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   temperror:  The DNS evaluation could not be completed due to some
               error that is likely transient in nature, such as a
               temporary DNS error, e.g., a DNS RCODE of 2, commonly
               known as SERVFAIL, or other error condition.  A later
               attempt may produce a final result.
   permerror:  The DNS evaluation cannot work because test entries don't
               work, that is, DNSWL is broken, or because queries are
               over quota, e.g., a DNS RCODE of 5, commonly known as
               REFUSED, or a DNSWL-specific policy.ip with the same
               meaning.  A later attempt is unlikely to produce a final
               result.  Human intervention is required.

   Note that there is no fail result.

   The following ptype.property items define how the data provided by
   the whitelist lookup can be saved.

   dns.zone:   DNSWL query root domain, which defines the meaning of the
               policy.ip property below.  Note that an MTA can use a
               local mirror with a different name.  The name stored here
               has to be the best available reference for all
               foreseeable downstream consumers.  If the message is
               handed outside the internal network, dns.zone had better
               be the global zone.
   policy.ip:  The bit mask value received in type A response, in dotted
               quad.  Multiple entries can be arranged in a quoted,
               comma separated list (quotes are necessary because commas
               are not allowed in a token.)
   policy.txt: The TXT record, if any.  Multiple records are
               concatenated in the usual way (explained, for example, in
               Section 3.3 of [RFC7208]).  See Section 3 for the
               resulting content and query options.
   dns.sec:    This is a generic property stating whether the relevant
               data was validated using DNSSEC ([RFC4033]).  For the
               present method, the relevant data consists of the
               reported policy properties above, or, if the method
               result is "none", their non-existence.  This property has
               three possible values:

               yes: DNSSEC validation confirms the integrity of data.
                    Section 5.2 considers how that is related to the DNS
               no:  The data is not signed.  See Section 5.2.
               na:  Not applicable.  No DNSSEC validation can be
                    performed, possibly because the lookup is run
                    through a different means than a security-aware DNS
                    resolver.  This does not necessarily imply less
                    security.  In particular, "na" is used if the data

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                    was downloaded in bulk and then loaded on a local
                    nameserver --which is the case of an MTA querying a
                    local zone different from the reported dns.zone.
                    DNS errors, including validation errors, can also
                    report "na".  This is also the value assumed by

3.  TXT Record Contents

   According to [RFC5782], TXT records describe the reason why IP
   addresses are listed in a DNSWL.  The TXT record is useful if it
   contains the domain names.  The domain name would correspond to the
   DNS domain name used by or within the administrative domain (ADMD)
   operating the relevant MTA, sometimes called the "organizational
   domain".  In that case, the authentication provided by this method is
   equivalent to a DKIM signature ([RFC6376]) or an SPF check host
   ([RFC7208]), if the DNSWL is trusted.

   According to a DNSWL's policy, attributing responsibility of an IP
   address to an organization may require something more than a mere PTR
   record consistency.  If no domain names can be responsibly associated
   to a given IP address, for example because the IP address was added
   without direct involvement of the organization concerned, DNSWLs can
   use a subdomain of .INVALID ([RFC2606]) where the leftmost label
   hints at why an address is whitelisted.  For example, if the address was added by the list managers solely based on their
   knowledge, the corresponding TXT record might be
   AUTOPROMOTED.INVALID, so as to avoid to explicitly identify an entity
   who didn't opt-in.

   Following the example of Multicast DNS (see the second paragraph of
   Section 16 of [RFC6762]) names containing non-ASCII characters can be
   encoded in UTF-8 [RFC3629] using the normalization form canonical
   composition (NFC) as described in Unicode Format for Network
   Interchange ([RFC5198]).  Inclusion of unaltered UTF-8 TXT values in
   the header entails an environment compatible with EAI [RFC6530].

   DNS queries with a QTYPE of ANY may lead to inconsistent replies,
   depending on the cache status.  In addition, ANY is not "all", and
   the provisions for queries that have QTYPE=ANY ([RFC8482]) don't
   cover DNSxLs.  A mail server can issue two simultaneous queries, A
   and TXT.  Otherwise, a downstream filter can issue a TXT query on its
   own, if it knows that an A query was successful and that the DNSWL
   serves useful TXT records.  It is unlikely that TXT records exist if
   a query for QTYPE A brought a result of none.

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4.  IANA Considerations

   IANA maintains the "Email Authentication Parameters" registry with
   several subregistries.  IANA is requested to make assignments as set
   out in the following sections.

4.1.  Email Authentication Methods

   IANA is requested to create four new entries in the "Email
   Authentication Methods" registry as follows.

   Method|Definition|ptype |property| Value             |Status|Version
   dnswl |[This.I-D]|dns   |zone    | DNSWL publicly    |active|   1
         |          |      |        | accessible query  |      |
         |          |      |        | root domain       |      |
   dnswl |[This.I-D]|policy|ip      | type A response   |active|   1
         |          |      |        | received (or a    |      |
         |          |      |        | quoted, comma     |      |
         |          |      |        | separated list    |      |
         |          |      |        | thereof)          |      |
   dnswl |[This.I-D]|policy|txt     | type TXT query    |active|   1
         |          |      |        | response          |      |
   dnswl |[This.I-D]|dns   |sec     | one of "yes" for  |active|   1
         |          |      |        | DNSSEC            |      |
         |          |      |        | authenticated     |      |
         |          |      |        | data, "no" for    |      |
         |          |      |        | not signed, or    |      |
         |          |      |        | "na" for not      |      |
         |          |      |        | applicable        |      |

4.2.  Email Authentication Property Type

   IANA is requested to create a new entry in the "Email Authentication
   Property Types" registry as follows.

   | ptype | Definition | Description                                  |
   | dns   | [This.I-D] | The property being reported belongs to the   |
   |       |            | Domain Name System                           |

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4.3.  Email Authentication Result Names

   IANA is requested to create four new entries in the "Email
   Authentication Result Names" registry as follows.

           | Auth Method | Code      | Specification | Status |
           | dnswl       | pass      | [This.I-D]    | active |
           |             |           |               |        |
           | dnswl       | none      | [This.I-D]    | active |
           |             |           |               |        |
           | dnswl       | temperror | [This.I-D]    | active |
           |             |           |               |        |
           | dnswl       | permerror | [This.I-D]    | active |

5.  Security Considerations

5.1.  Over Quota Signaling

   Some DNSWLs which provide for free access below a given quota, are
   known to return special codes to signal over quota, for example  If the MTA cannot interpret that value, that case
   results in a false positive.  It will accept messages having spf=fail
   if configured to do so.  A DNSWL-specific module would realize the
   fact and call for human intervention.

   Returning an RCODE 5 (REFUSED) conveys the concept that the query is
   "unauthorized", and human intervention required.

5.2.  Security of DNSSEC Validation

   The dns.sec property is meant to be as secure as DNSSEC results.  It
   makes sense to use it in an environment where the DNSSEC validation
   can succeed.

   Section 7 of [RFC4033] examines various ways of setting up a stub
   resolver which either validates DNSSEC locally or trusts the
   validation provided through a secure channel.  For a different class,
   it is possible to set up a dedicated, caching, dnssec-enabled
   resolver reachable by the mail server through interprocess
   communication on  In such cases, the property dns.sec=yes
   corresponds to the Authenticated Data (AD) bit in the DNS response

   When the response contains no DNSSEC data, a security-aware resolver
   seeks a signed proof of the non-existence of a DS record, at some

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   delegation point.  If no error is returned, the zone is unsigned and
   dns.sec=no can be set.  Quoting the Security Considerations
   Section of [RFC3225]: The absence of DNSSEC data in response to a
   query with the DO bit set MUST NOT be taken to mean no security
   information is available for that zone as the response may be forged
   or a non-forged response of an altered (DO bit cleared) query.

   If the application verifies the DNSSEC signatures on its own, it
   effectively behaves like a validating stub resolver, and hence can
   set dns.sec correspondingly.

   When the data is downloaded in bulk and made available on a trusted
   channel without using DNSSEC, set dns.sec=na or not at all.  DNSWL
   who publish bulk versions of their data can also sign that data, for
   example using OpenPGP ([RFC4880]).  It is the responsibility of
   system administrators to authenticate the data by downloading and
   validating the signature.  The result of such validation is not
   reported using dns.sec.

5.3.  Inherited Security Considerations

   For DNSSEC, the considerations of Section 12 of [RFC4033] apply.

   All of the considerations described in Section 7 of [RFC8601] apply.
   That includes securing against tampering all the channels after the
   production of this Authentication-Results header field.

   In addition, the usual caveats apply about importing text from
   external online sources.  Although queried DNSWLs are well known,
   trusted entities, it is suggested that TXT records be reported only
   if, upon inspection, their content is deemed actually actionable, and
   their format compatible with the computing environment.

6.  References

6.1.  Normative References

   [RFC2606]  Eastlake 3rd, D. and A. Panitz, "Reserved Top Level DNS
              Names", BCP 32, RFC 2606, DOI 10.17487/RFC2606, June 1999,

   [RFC5782]  Levine, J., "DNS Blacklists and Whitelists", RFC 5782,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC5782, February 2010, <https://www.rfc-

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   [RFC8601]  Kucherawy, M., "Message Header Field for Indicating
              Message Authentication Status", RFC 8601,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC8601, May 2019, <https://www.rfc-

6.2.  Informative References

   [RFC1034]  Mockapetris, P., "Domain names - concepts and facilities",
              STD 13, RFC 1034, DOI 10.17487/RFC1034, November 1987,

   [RFC3225]  Conrad, D., "Indicating Resolver Support of DNSSEC",
              RFC 3225, DOI 10.17487/RFC3225, December 2001,

   [RFC3629]  Yergeau, F., "UTF-8, a transformation format of ISO
              10646", STD 63, RFC 3629, DOI 10.17487/RFC3629, November
              2003, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc3629>.

   [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,

   [RFC4880]  Callas, J., Donnerhacke, L., Finney, H., Shaw, D., and R.
              Thayer, "OpenPGP Message Format", RFC 4880,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC4880, November 2007, <https://www.rfc-

   [RFC5198]  Klensin, J. and M. Padlipsky, "Unicode Format for Network
              Interchange", RFC 5198, DOI 10.17487/RFC5198, March 2008,

   [RFC5598]  Crocker, D., "Internet Mail Architecture", RFC 5598,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC5598, July 2009, <https://www.rfc-

   [RFC6376]  Crocker, D., Ed., Hansen, T., Ed., and M. Kucherawy, Ed.,
              "DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) Signatures", STD 76,
              RFC 6376, DOI 10.17487/RFC6376, September 2011,

   [RFC6530]  Klensin, J. and Y. Ko, "Overview and Framework for
              Internationalized Email", RFC 6530, DOI 10.17487/RFC6530,
              February 2012, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc6530>.

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   [RFC6762]  Cheshire, S. and M. Krochmal, "Multicast DNS", RFC 6762,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC6762, February 2013, <https://www.rfc-

   [RFC7208]  Kitterman, S., "Sender Policy Framework (SPF) for
              Authorizing Use of Domains in Email, Version 1", RFC 7208,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7208, April 2014, <https://www.rfc-

   [RFC7489]  Kucherawy, M., Ed. and E. Zwicky, Ed., "Domain-based
              Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance
              (DMARC)", RFC 7489, DOI 10.17487/RFC7489, March 2015,

   [RFC8460]  Margolis, D., Brotman, A., Ramakrishnan, B., Jones, J.,
              and M. Risher, "SMTP TLS Reporting", RFC 8460,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC8460, September 2018, <https://www.rfc-

   [RFC8482]  Abley, J., Gudmundsson, O., Majkowski, M., and E. Hunt,
              "Providing Minimal-Sized Responses to DNS Queries That
              Have QTYPE=ANY", RFC 8482, DOI 10.17487/RFC8482, January
              2019, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8482>.

              "Courier Mail Server", <https://www.courier-mta.org/>.

              "DNSWL.ORG", <https://www.dnswl.org/>.

Appendix A.  Example

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   Delivered-To: recipient@example.org
   Return-Path: <sender@example.com>
   Authentication-Results: mta.example.org;
     dkim=pass (whitelisted) header.i=@example.com
   Authentication-Results: mta.example.org;
     dnswl=pass dns.zone=list.dnswl.example dns.sec=na
     policy.txt="fwd.example https://dnswl.example/?d=fwd.example"
   Received-SPF: fail (Address does not pass Sender Policy Framework)
   Received: from mail.fwd.example (mail.fwd.example [2001:db8::2:1])
     (TLS: TLSv1/SSLv3,128bits,ECDHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256)
     by mta.example.org with ESMTPS; Thu, 03 Oct 2019 19:23:11 +0200
     id 00000000005DC044.000000005702D87C.000007FC

                   Trace fields at the top of the header

   The message went through a third party, fwd.example, which forwarded
   it to the final MTA.  Such mail path was not arranged beforehand with
   the involved MTAs, it emerged spontaneously.  This message would not
   have made it to the target without whitelisting, because:

   o  the author domain published a strict SPF policy (-all),
   o  the forwarder did not alter the bounce address, and
   o  the target usually honors reject-on-fail, according to Section 8.4
      of [RFC7208].

   However, the target also implemented the last paragraph of
   Appendix D.3 of [RFC7208].  Its behavior hinges on the following DNS
          IN  A
          IN  TXT  "fwd.example https://dnswl.example/?d=fwd.example"

                  DNS resource records for 2001:db8::2:1
                   (line breaks for editorial reasons)

   If mail.fwd.example had connected from address, then the
   query name would have been  See full
   description in [RFC5782]

   At connection time, because the remote IP address is whitelisted, the
   target MTA did not reject the message before DATA.  Instead, it

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   recorded the SPF fail result, and indicated the local policy
   mechanism which was applied in order to override that result.
   Subsequent filtering verified DKIM [RFC6376].

   At later stages, mail filters can reject or quarantine the message
   based on its content.  A deeper knowledge of the policy values
   obtained from dnswl.example allows to interpret the values of
   policy.ip and weight them against other factors so as to make better

Appendix B.  Known Implementation

   Implementation details mentioned in this section have been stable for
   several years.  Yet, this description is necessarily superficial,
   version dependent, and subject to change.

   [Courier-MTA] can be configured to lookup DNSBL and DNSWL, with
   similar command line switches:


   zone is the zone to be queried.

   displayzone is only used for -allow, it is the value to be set in the
   dns.zone property.

   var stands for the environment variable whose existence triggers a
   special action.  The default variable names result in a conventional
   behavior implemented by Courier-MTA.  By setting different
   environment variables, users can customize the behavior.
   Conventional behavior differs widely between -block and -allow.  The
   former rejects the message, the latter produces Authentication-
   Results header fields.

   The n.n.n.n IP address requires a precise A record response.  If not
   given, any response results in setting the corresponding variable.
   If given, variables are set only if the response matches exactly.
   Such syntax provides for a very limited interpretation of the
   information encoded in A records.  However, it is considered to be
   too complicated already.  Even specifying a range, an enumeration of
   values, or a regular expression would require something beyond what a
   normal user would be willing to manage.

   Finally, the trailing message, which overrides the 5xx SMTP reply for
   -block, is not used for -allow, except that its mere presence
   requires to query TXT records to be registered in policy.txt.

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   SPF is part of Courier-MTA's core.  It is configured separately, and
   provides for an "allowok" keyword to indicate to override rejection
   in case of SPF failure and -allow whitelisting.

   A customary whitelist is [dnswl.org].  It serves A records encoded as

      1st octect: 127.
      2nd octect: 0.
      3rd octect: Category of business, 15 values.
      4th octect: Trusworthiness/score, 4 values.

   They also serve TXT records containing the domain name followed by an
   URL pointing to further info about the relevant organization, such as
   what other IP addresses of theirs are being whitelisted.  They don't
   use UTF-8.

   dnswl.org provides for free registration and free access below
   100,000 queries per day.  They use the special return code exemplified above to signal over quota.  Although
   Courier-MTA itself does not recognize it, it has a mail filter
   (zdkimfilter, named after its main usage) where recognition of that
   code, as well as that of trusworthiness in the 4th octect are hard-

Appendix C.  Future possibilities of the 'dns' ptype

   The description of the new ptype proposed in Section 4.2 just says
   "The property being reported belongs to the Domain Name System".
   That definition can broadly include any tag found in a domain's TXT
   record.  For example, auth methods designers can agree that within a
   resinfo of a given method, any dns ptype refers to tags in the
   relevant DNS record, unless otherwise specified.  So one could have,

   Authentication-Results: example.com;
     spf=pass smtp.mailfrom=example.net dns.sec=y;
     dkim=pass header.i=@example.org header.b=jIvx30NG dns.s=tlsrpt

   While dns.sec is defined above, albeit not for the spf method, the
   use of tlsrpt in the DKIM record is exemplified in Section 3 of
   [RFC8460].  The tag s= is part of the DKIM TXT record, not to be
   confused with the selector s=, which is part of a DKIM-Signature.
   Just like the latter can be reported as header.s because the DKIM
   header field is in the message header, it may make sense to report
   the former as dns.s because the DKIM DNS record is in the DNS.

Vesely                   Expires October 1, 2020               [Page 13]

Internet-Draft      DNSWL email-auth-method extension         March 2020

   NOTE: This is only a hint at what may become a consistent naming
   convention around the new ptype.  In any case, any new property using
   this ptype requires its own formal definition.  This document does
   NOT define the property dns.s=, let alone the service tlsrpt.

Author's Address

   Alessandro Vesely
   v. L. Anelli 13
   Milano, MI  20122

   Email: vesely@tana.it

Vesely                   Expires October 1, 2020               [Page 14]

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