Network Working Group D. Eastlake
Request for Comments: 2536 IBM
Category: Standards Track March 1999 DSA KEYs and SIGs in the Domain Name System (DNS)
Status of this Memo
This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
improvements. Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet
Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state
and status of this protocol. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.
Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1999). All Rights Reserved.
A standard method for storing US Government Digital Signature
Algorithm keys and signatures in the Domain Name System is described
which utilizes DNS KEY and SIG resource records.
Table of Contents
Abstract...................................................11. Introduction............................................12. DSA KEY Resource Records................................23. DSA SIG Resource Records................................34. Performance Considerations..............................35. Security Considerations.................................46. IANA Considerations.....................................4
Full Copyright Statement...................................61. Introduction
The Domain Name System (DNS) is the global hierarchical replicated
distributed database system for Internet addressing, mail proxy, and
other information. The DNS has been extended to include digital
signatures and cryptographic keys as described in [RFC 2535]. Thus
the DNS can now be secured and can be used for secure key
This document describes how to store US Government Digital Signature
Algorithm (DSA) keys and signatures in the DNS. Familiarity with the
US Digital Signature Algorithm is assumed [Schneier]. Implementation
of DSA is mandatory for DNS security.
2. DSA KEY Resource Records
DSA public keys are stored in the DNS as KEY RRs using algorithm
number 3 [RFC 2535]. The structure of the algorithm specific portion
of the RDATA part of this RR is as shown below. These fields, from Q
through Y are the "public key" part of the DSA KEY RR.
The period of key validity is not in the KEY RR but is indicated by
the SIG RR(s) which signs and authenticates the KEY RR(s) at that
T 1 octet
Q 20 octets
P 64 + T*8 octets
G 64 + T*8 octets
Y 64 + T*8 octets
As described in [FIPS 186] and [Schneier]: T is a key size parameter
chosen such that 0 <= T <= 8. (The meaning for algorithm 3 if the T
octet is greater than 8 is reserved and the remainder of the RDATA
portion may have a different format in that case.) Q is a prime
number selected at key generation time such that 2**159 < Q < 2**160
so Q is always 20 octets long and, as with all other fields, is
stored in "big-endian" network order. P, G, and Y are calculated as
directed by the FIPS 186 key generation algorithm [Schneier]. P is
in the range 2**(511+64T) < P < 2**(512+64T) and so is 64 + 8*T
octets long. G and Y are quantities modulus P and so can be up to
the same length as P and are allocated fixed size fields with the
same number of octets as P.
During the key generation process, a random number X must be
generated such that 1 <= X <= Q-1. X is the private key and is used
in the final step of public key generation where Y is computed as
Y = G**X mod P
3. DSA SIG Resource Records
The signature portion of the SIG RR RDATA area, when using the US
Digital Signature Algorithm, is shown below with fields in the order
they occur. See [RFC 2535] for fields in the SIG RR RDATA which
precede the signature itself.
T 1 octet
R 20 octets
S 20 octets
The data signed is determined as specified in [RFC 2535]. Then the
following steps are taken, as specified in [FIPS 186], where Q, P, G,
and Y are as specified in the public key [Schneier]:
hash = SHA-1 ( data )
Generate a random K such that 0 < K < Q.
R = ( G**K mod P ) mod Q
S = ( K**(-1) * (hash + X*R) ) mod Q
Since Q is 160 bits long, R and S can not be larger than 20 octets,
which is the space allocated.
T is copied from the public key. It is not logically necessary in
the SIG but is present so that values of T > 8 can more conveniently
be used as an escape for extended versions of DSA or other algorithms
as later specified.
4. Performance Considerations
General signature generation speeds are roughly the same for RSA [RFC
2537] and DSA. With sufficient pre-computation, signature generation
with DSA is faster than RSA. Key generation is also faster for DSA.
However, signature verification is an order of magnitude slower than
RSA when the RSA public exponent is chosen to be small as is
recommended for KEY RRs used in domain name system (DNS) data
Current DNS implementations are optimized for small transfers,
typically less than 512 bytes including overhead. While larger
transfers will perform correctly and work is underway to make larger
transfers more efficient, it is still advisable at this time to make
reasonable efforts to minimize the size of KEY RR sets stored within
the DNS consistent with adequate security. Keep in mind that in a
secure zone, at least one authenticating SIG RR will also be
5. Security Considerations
Many of the general security consideration in [RFC 2535] apply. Keys
retrieved from the DNS should not be trusted unless (1) they have
been securely obtained from a secure resolver or independently
verified by the user and (2) this secure resolver and secure
obtainment or independent verification conform to security policies
acceptable to the user. As with all cryptographic algorithms,
evaluating the necessary strength of the key is essential and
dependent on local policy.
The key size limitation of a maximum of 1024 bits ( T = 8 ) in the
current DSA standard may limit the security of DSA. For particularly
critical applications, implementors are encouraged to consider the
range of available algorithms and key sizes.
DSA assumes the ability to frequently generate high quality random
numbers. See [RFC 1750] for guidance. DSA is designed so that if
manipulated rather than random numbers are used, very high bandwidth
covert channels are possible. See [Schneier] and more recent
research. The leakage of an entire DSA private key in only two DSA
signatures has been demonstrated. DSA provides security only if
trusted implementations, including trusted random number generation,
6. IANA Considerations
Allocation of meaning to values of the T parameter that are not
defined herein requires an IETF standards actions. It is intended
that values unallocated herein be used to cover future extensions of
the DSS standard.
[FIPS 186] U.S. Federal Information Processing Standard: Digital
[RFC 1034] Mockapetris, P., "Domain Names - Concepts and
Facilities", STD 13, RFC 1034, November 1987.
[RFC 1035] Mockapetris, P., "Domain Names - Implementation and
Specification", STD 13, RFC 1035, November 1987.
[RFC 1750] Eastlake, D., Crocker, S. and J. Schiller, "Randomness
Recommendations for Security", RFC 1750, December 1994.
[RFC 2535] Eastlake, D., "Domain Name System Security Extensions",
RFC 2535, March 1999.
[RFC 2537] Eastlake, D., "RSA/MD5 KEYs and SIGs in the Domain Name
System (DNS)", RFC 2537, March 1999.
[Schneier] Schneier, B., "Applied Cryptography Second Edition:
protocols, algorithms, and source code in C", 1996.
Donald E. Eastlake 3rd
65 Shindegan Hill Road, RR #1
Carmel, NY 10512
Full Copyright Statement
Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1999). All Rights Reserved.
This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it
or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any
kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
included on all such copies and derivative works. However, this
document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of
developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for
copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be
followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than
The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.
This document and the information contained herein is provided on an
"AS IS" basis and THE INTERNET SOCIETY AND THE INTERNET ENGINEERING
TASK FORCE DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING
BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY WARRANTY THAT THE USE OF THE INFORMATION
HEREIN WILL NOT INFRINGE ANY RIGHTS OR ANY IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF
MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.