dprive or dnsop K. Henderson
Internet-Draft Verisign
Intended status: Informational T. April
Expires: January 22, 2020 Akamai
J. Livingood
July 21, 2019

Authoritative DNS-over-TLS Operational Considerations


DNS over TLS (DoT) has been gaining attention, primarily as a means of communication between stub resolvers and recursive resolvers. There have also been discussions and experiments involving the use of DoT to communicate with authoritative nameservers (Authoritative DNS over TLS or “ADoT”), including communication between recursive and authoritative resolvers. However, we have identified a number of operational concerns with ADoT. These operational concerns need to be addressed prior to ADoT’s deployment at scale by DNS operators in order to maintain the stability and resilience of the global DNS. The document also provides some suggested next steps to advance the operator community’s understanding of ADoT’s operational impact.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction

This is an operational considerations document that focuses on the factors operators need to consider when implementing Authoritative DNS over TLS. An evaluation of the merits of DNS over TLS are beyond the scope and intent of this document.

Typically, DNS communication between stub resolvers, recursive resolvers, and authoritative servers is not encrypted. Some argue that this can pose a privacy challenge for Internet users, because their access to named network resources can potentially be tracked through their DNS communication. In principle, any network element along the path between the user and resolving or authoritative nameservers could observe this unencrypted traffic. Many of these concerns are addressed in [RFC7626].

[RFC8310] proposes using DNS over TLS (DoT) in order to encrypt DNS traffic.

Historically, much of the work on DNS encryption has focused on the stub-to-recursive path as the recursive-to-authoritative server path does not leak user specific information. However, with the increased deployment of EDNS0 Client Subnet [RFC7871], recursive-to-authoritative encryption is becoming an area of interest. Therefore, this document focuses on the recursive-to-authoritative aspect of DoT and we use the term Authoritative DNS over TLS (ADoT) in order to differentiate it from the stub-to-recursive path.

The addition of ADoT, while providing encryption for DNS communication, also introduces other factors that might impact the stability and resiliency of authoritative nameserver operations which may have been optimized for unencrypted DNS, often focusing on UDP transport.

The objective of this document is to try to describe the problem space, make suggestions about solutions, and propose next steps that can help inform both recursive and authoritative operators on how to assess and address the challenges posed by ADoT deployment.

1.1. Background and Motivation

1.1.1. Why operational considerations are so important for ADoT

The main concerns for most authoritative operators are the stability, resiliency, scalability, and performance of their platforms. These concerns need to be weighed against the benefits, if any, offered to the end user by encrypting DNS queries to the authoritative servers and the associated benefit of protection from modifications in transit.

The communication between the recursive-to-authoritative server is less able to be associated with a particular user than information communicated along the stub-to-recursive path given that the originating IP address is that of the recursive resolver, not the user’s, and the QNAME is potentially minimized. Therefore, initial deployments of ADoT may offer an immediate expansion of the attack surface (additional port, transport protocol, and computationally expensive crypto operations for an attacker to exploit) while potentially providing limited benefit to end users.

1.1.2. Other considerations related to ADoT

As resolvers add encryption on the client-to-recursive path, they may also change the way they handle data on the recursive-to-authoritative path. This is expressed in Mozilla Trusted Recursive Resolver (TRR) requirements, for example, which require participating resolvers to perform QNAME minimization [RFC7816], and TRR requirement #6, which forbids the EDNS0 Client subnet (ECS) from being propagated unless the recursive-to-authoritative path is encrypted.

The latter requirement may have the possible unintended consequence of reducing the authoritative name servers’ ability to provide a best response to DNS queries, until such time as they deploy DNS encryption.

Given that recursive resolvers should be configured to prevent ECS transmission to root, top-level, and effective top-level domain (TLD) servers [RFC7871] section 12.1 - the ECS encryption requirement motivates consideration of authoritative DNS encryption below these levels.

At the higher levels, techniques such as QNAME minimization and Aggressive Use of DNSSEC-Validated Cache [RFC8198] arguably provide an alternate path toward mitigating the risk of disclosure of sensitive information without the operational risk of DNS encryption.

Resolver requirements may change as the understanding of DNS encryption options evolve, but in the meantime, they provide motivation for authoritative name server operators to weigh the risks and benefits of DNS encryption, hence the importance of understanding these operational considerations.

2. Terminology

2.1. Requirements Language

The key words “MUST”, “MUST NOT”, “REQUIRED”, “SHALL”, “SHALL NOT”, “SHOULD”, “SHOULD NOT”, “RECOMMENDED”, “NOT RECOMMENDED”, “MAY”, and “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.

2.2. Definitions

ADoT: Authoritative DNS over TLS - the use of DNS over TLS (DoT) when communicating with an authoritative DNS server. eg: between the recursive resolver and the authoritative DNS server (recursive-to-authoritative). We use DoT when discussing generic DNS over TLS or when referring to encrypted communication between stub and recursive resolver.

Attack Surface: The sum of attack vectors where an unauthorized user (attacker) can try to enter or extract data from the environment or compromise a service via resource starvation.

Authoritative Operator: An operator of an authoritative DNS server.

CDN: Content Delivery Network - distributed network of servers which proxy traffic between content providers and end users in order to provide high availability and high performance.

ECS: EDNS0 Client Subnet [RFC7871] - an extension to EDNS0 where the client’s subnet is included in the DNS query, intended to provide a hint to authoritative servers who may wish to provide different answers in an attempt to provide higher performance for end users based on their network location.

EPSK: External Pre-Shared Key - TLS 1.3 [RFC8446] uses the same PSK extension for keys established both during handshake (resumption PSK) and keys established externally. The EPSK acronym was introduced in draft [I-D.draft-wood-tls-external-psk-importer-00] in order to disambiguate External vs Resumption PSKs.


Authoritative Server - see [RFC8499]

Recursive Resolver - see [RFC8499]

Stub Resolver - see [RFC8499]

TLS: - see [RFC8446]

SUDN: Special-Use Domain Names - see [RFC6761]

3. Key Issues and Questions

3.1. Signaling Support for ADoT

[RFC8310] does not define a method for a nameserver to advertise its support of DoT other than to have the client make a connection attempt to the default port of 853. The extra round-trip to check for ADoT support imposes a penalty for clients and resolvers that either do not remember the nameserver or have not communicated with that nameserver before. The extra round-trip required may lead some implementers down a similar path to happy eyeballs [RFC8305] which, in the case of DNS, would send the same query over both encrypted and un-encrypted channels at the same time. A happy eyeballs type approach, which we’ll call “leaky resolvers”, would defeat the purpose of the encryption protection for the testing query, but may enable subsequent queries to be sent over a private channel with the first query being subject to on-path adversaries. An implementation could use some constant query string as a test query. However any query included in the set of queries comprising the iterative resolution for a QNAME first sent over an encrypted channel that leaks the original stub QNAME, SHOULD NOT be used.

3.2. Port number

[RFC7858] section 3 indicates that port 853 MUST be used for session establishment unless otherwise negotiated and configured by both the client and server. In the stub-to-recursive connection, changing the port is something that can be done at stub configuration time however, managing this negotiation between the recursive-to-authoritative server is not scalable or standardized. The scalability problem is due to the fact that recursive resolvers communicate with thousands of authoritative servers, therefore port/service discovery for each of these authoritatives becomes difficult.

Static use of a pre-defined port provides on-path adversaries the ability to more easily drop or manipulate traffic intended for that port, possibly triggering resolvers to downgrade a connection back to a traditional DNS query, eliminating the encryption protections. This attack is more likely to happen on the stub-to-recursive connection but is also a possible threat for recursive-to-authoritative connections.

3.3. TLS version

Implementers of ADoT should read, understand, and follow the guidance provided in BCP195, also known as [RFC7525], when deploying DoT on their platforms. At the time of writing, [RFC7525] did not include coverage for TLS 1.3. However, TLS 1.3 should be included in the document that obsoletes this BCP. Until this happens, TLS 1.3 SHOULD be preferred over TLS 1.2, as 1.3 offers both security and performance enhancements. Additionally, operators should monitor TLS version issues and cipher suite vulnerabilities for the version of TLS that their platforms offer.

In the absence of any widespread ADoT deployments, it is easier to limit TLS version 1.3 or greater. The absence of widespread adoption also allows the IETF to create and enforce standards/policies that ensure TLS versions are kept current going forward.

3.4. Resumptions

TLS resumption allows clients and servers to use information from a previously established session in order to bootstrap the cryptographic state while avoiding a full handshake. The resumption mechanism is redesigned in TLS 1.3 [RFC8446] section 2.2 and section 2.3, eliminating both [RFC5077] session tickets and session ID resumption.

Resumption improves both connection and resource (socket and CPU) efficiency, therefore operators SHOULD allow for TLS resumption. However, special consideration should be given to 0-RTT resumption as it is vulnerable to replay attacks [RFC3552] see Section 3.3.1. The replay attack may not be as important for DNS, as DNS queries are generally idempotent. However consideration should be given to possible side-channel attacks.

3.5. Operational Monitoring

Many operators use external passive monitors in order to understand the health and performance of their infrastructure. Infrastructure monitoring is also often done to retain a copy of traffic for forensic purposes - such as the BIND “packet of death” scenario. These legacy monitoring systems may break with the use of TLS 1.3. Therefore alternatives may need to be deployed/developed in order to maintain effective operational performance and security monitoring functionality.

A number of solutions have been suggested:

3.6. Architecture

Operators often reconfigure their architectural designs to best deliver a new product offering or service. Operators should consider the following design alternatives for the new ADoT service:

3.7. Socket efficiency/tuning considerations

Operators can realize substantial gains in client session establishment and improve overall RTT by tuning sockets setting for best use-case efficiency.

For the ADoT use case, operators should consult [RFC7766] section 6.2 and minimally consider the following:

3.8. Post-Quantum Security

Given that ADoT deployments will likely have a long lifetime and are being introduced in an era where post-quantum security is now an important design consideration, it is prudent to consider how protections against quantum computers might be integrated into the deployments.

[I-D.draft-hoffman-c2pq-05] outlines the threat quantum computing presents to classical cryptographic algorithms.

External Pre-Shared Keys (EPSKs) may be less vulnerable to quantum attacks. A proposed approach to combining EPSKs and certificates in TLS is described in [I-D.draft-housley-tls-tls13-cert-with-extern-psk-03].

4. Suggestions for further research and development

4.1. Required studies and analysis

Unlike stub-to-recursive DNS communication, authoritative nameservers affect users in ways that end users cannot avoid or work around. In the event that all authoritative servers for a zone are unreachable, the zone becomes globally unavailable. Hence, in order to preserve stability and resiliency of authoritative nameservers when deploying ADoT, more empirical studies and analysis MUST be conducted. The following list is a minimal set of studies and considerations that need to be conducted/addressed in order to maintain authoritative stability and resilience.

It is critical to conduct large-scale measurements of DNS infrastructure in order to quantify some of the scalability issues. While these tests may be performed initially in a controlled lab environment, the public Internet is fundamentally more variable. Therefore, global testing at scale on the Internet MUST also be conducted in order to understand and measure potential issues which must be overcome before full global deployment can occur.

4.2. Authoritative DNS over TLS (ADoT) Profile

Profiles can be used as a mechanism to help mitigate operational concerns over increased attack surface by restricting features such as computationally expensive processes, insecure ciphers, general starvation vectors, or other features that may limit operational performance.

Therefore, an ADoT application profile draft, taking into account the conclusions of required studies and analysis, may help assuage some of the concerns raised in this document.

5. Security Considerations

In addition to the applicable security considerations described in RFCs [RFC7626] and [RFC8310], considerations focused on future deployment of quantum computers are described in Post-Quantum Security. Additional considerations associated with ADoT are TBD based on working group discussions.

6. Informative References

[I-D.draft-hoffman-c2pq-05] Hoffman, P., "The Transition from Classical to Post-Quantum Cryptography", Internet-Draft draft-hoffman-c2pq-05, May 2019.
[I-D.draft-housley-tls-tls13-cert-with-extern-psk-03] Housley, R., "TLS 1.3 Extension for Certificate-based Authentication with an External Pre-Shared Key", Internet-Draft draft-housley-tls-tls13-cert-with-extern-psk-03, November 2018.
[I-D.draft-wood-tls-external-psk-importer-00] Wood, C., "Importing External PSKs for TLS 1.3", Internet-Draft draft-wood-tls-external-psk-importer-00, October 2018.
[RFC2119] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997.
[RFC3552] Rescorla, E. and B. Korver, "Guidelines for Writing RFC Text on Security Considerations", BCP 72, RFC 3552, DOI 10.17487/RFC3552, July 2003.
[RFC5077] Salowey, J., Zhou, H., Eronen, P. and H. Tschofenig, "Transport Layer Security (TLS) Session Resumption without Server-Side State", RFC 5077, DOI 10.17487/RFC5077, January 2008.
[RFC6761] Cheshire, S. and M. Krochmal, "Special-Use Domain Names", RFC 6761, DOI 10.17487/RFC6761, February 2013.
[RFC7525] Sheffer, Y., Holz, R. and P. Saint-Andre, "Recommendations for Secure Use of Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS)", BCP 195, RFC 7525, DOI 10.17487/RFC7525, May 2015.
[RFC7626] Bortzmeyer, S., "DNS Privacy Considerations", RFC 7626, DOI 10.17487/RFC7626, August 2015.
[RFC7766] Dickinson, J., Dickinson, S., Bellis, R., Mankin, A. and D. Wessels, "DNS Transport over TCP - Implementation Requirements", RFC 7766, DOI 10.17487/RFC7766, March 2016.
[RFC7816] Bortzmeyer, S., "DNS Query Name Minimisation to Improve Privacy", RFC 7816, DOI 10.17487/RFC7816, March 2016.
[RFC7858] Hu, Z., Zhu, L., Heidemann, J., Mankin, A., Wessels, D. and P. Hoffman, "Specification for DNS over Transport Layer Security (TLS)", RFC 7858, DOI 10.17487/RFC7858, May 2016.
[RFC7871] Contavalli, C., van der Gaast, W., Lawrence, D. and W. Kumari, "Client Subnet in DNS Queries", RFC 7871, DOI 10.17487/RFC7871, May 2016.
[RFC8174] Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC 2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174, May 2017.
[RFC8198] Fujiwara, K., Kato, A. and W. Kumari, "Aggressive Use of DNSSEC-Validated Cache", RFC 8198, DOI 10.17487/RFC8198, July 2017.
[RFC8305] Schinazi, D. and T. Pauly, "Happy Eyeballs Version 2: Better Connectivity Using Concurrency", RFC 8305, DOI 10.17487/RFC8305, December 2017.
[RFC8310] Dickinson, S., Gillmor, D. and T. Reddy, "Usage Profiles for DNS over TLS and DNS over DTLS", RFC 8310, DOI 10.17487/RFC8310, March 2018.
[RFC8446] Rescorla, E., "The Transport Layer Security (TLS) Protocol Version 1.3", RFC 8446, DOI 10.17487/RFC8446, August 2018.
[RFC8499] Hoffman, P., Sullivan, A. and K. Fujiwara, "DNS Terminology", BCP 219, RFC 8499, DOI 10.17487/RFC8499, January 2019.

Appendix A. Acknowledgements

Thanks to those that provided usage data, reviewed and/or improved this document, including: Piet Barber, Michael Bentkofsky, David Blacka, Florent Guiliani, Scott Hollenbeck, Burt Kaliski, Glen Wiley, and Richard Wilhelm.

Appendix B. Change Log

Zero this change log out when -00 is submitted to IETF.


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Authors' Addresses

Karl Henderson Verisign EMail: khenderson@verisign.com
Tim April Akamai EMail: ietf@tapril.net
Jason Livingood Comcast EMail: jason_livingood@comcast.com