Network Working Group B. Wellington
Request for Comments: 3008 Nominum
Updates: 2535 November 2000
Category: Standards Track
Domain Name System Security (DNSSEC) Signing Authority
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 (2000). All Rights Reserved.
This document proposes a revised model of Domain Name System Security
(DNSSEC) Signing Authority. The revised model is designed to clarify
earlier documents and add additional restrictions to simplify the
secure resolution process. Specifically, this affects the
authorization of keys to sign sets of records.
The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
"SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this
document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [RFC2119].
1 - Introduction
This document defines additional restrictions on DNSSEC signatures
(SIG) records relating to their authority to sign associated data.
The intent is to establish a standard policy followed by a secure
resolver; this policy can be augmented by local rules. This builds
upon [RFC2535], updating section 2.3.6 of that document.
The most significant change is that in a secure zone, zone data is
required to be signed by the zone key.
Familiarity with the DNS system [RFC1034, RFC1035] and the DNS
security extensions [RFC2535] is assumed.
2 - The SIG Record
A SIG record is normally associated with an RRset, and "covers" (that
is, demonstrates the authenticity and integrity of) the RRset. This
is referred to as a "data SIG". Note that there can be multiple SIG
records covering an RRset, and the same validation process should be
repeated for each of them. Some data SIGs are considered "material",
that is, relevant to a DNSSEC capable resolver, and some are
"immaterial" or "extra-DNSSEC", as they are not relevant to DNSSEC
validation. Immaterial SIGs may have application defined roles. SIG
records may exist which are not bound to any RRset; these are also
considered immaterial. The validation process determines which SIGs
are material; once a SIG is shown to be immaterial, no other
validation is necessary.
SIGs may also be used for transaction security. In this case, a SIG
record with a type covered field of 0 is attached to a message, and
is used to protect message integrity. This is referred to as a
SIG(0) [RFC2535, RFC2931].
The following sections define requirements for all of the fields of a
SIG record. These requirements MUST be met in order for a DNSSEC
capable resolver to process this signature. If any of these
requirements are not met, the SIG cannot be further processed.
Additionally, once a KEY has been identified as having generated this
SIG, there are requirements that it MUST meet.
2.1 - Type Covered
For a data SIG, the type covered MUST be the same as the type of data
in the associated RRset. For a SIG(0), the type covered MUST be 0.
2.2 - Algorithm Number
The algorithm specified in a SIG MUST be recognized by the client,
and it MUST be an algorithm that has a defined SIG rdata format.
2.3 - Labels
The labels count MUST be less than or equal to the number of labels
in the SIG owner name, as specified in [RFC2535, section 4.1.3].
2.4 - Original TTL
The original TTL MUST be greater than or equal to the TTL of the SIG
record itself, since the TTL cannot be increased by intermediate
servers. This field can be ignored for SIG(0) records.
2.5 - Signature Expiration and Inception
The current time at the time of validation MUST lie within the
validity period bounded by the inception and expiration times.
2.6 - Key Tag
There are no restrictions on the Key Tag field, although it is
possible that future algorithms will impose constraints.
2.7 - Signer's Name
The signer's name field of a data SIG MUST contain the name of the
zone to which the data and signature belong. The combination of
signer's name, key tag, and algorithm MUST identify a zone key if the
SIG is to be considered material. The only exception that the
signer's name field in a SIG KEY at a zone apex SHOULD contain the
parent zone's name, unless the KEY set is self-signed. This document
defines a standard policy for DNSSEC validation; local policy may
override the standard policy.
There are no restrictions on the signer field of a SIG(0) record.
The combination of signer's name, key tag, and algorithm MUST
identify a key if this SIG(0) is to be processed.
2.8 - Signature
There are no restrictions on the signature field. The signature will
be verified at some point, but does not need to be examined prior to
verification unless a future algorithm imposes constraints.
3 - The Signing KEY Record
Once a signature has been examined and its fields validated (but
before the signature has been verified), the resolver attempts to
locate a KEY that matches the signer name, key tag, and algorithm
fields in the SIG. If one is not found, the SIG cannot be verified
and is considered immaterial. If KEYs are found, several fields of
the KEY record MUST have specific values if the SIG is to be
considered material and authorized. If there are multiple KEYs, the
following checks are performed on all of them, as there is no way to
determine which one generated the signature until the verification is
3.1 - Type Flags
The signing KEY record MUST have a flags value of 00 or 01
(authentication allowed, confidentiality optional) [RFC2535, 3.1.2].
A DNSSEC resolver MUST only trust signatures generated by keys that
are permitted to authenticate data.
3.2 - Name Flags
The interpretation of this field is considerably different for data
SIGs and SIG(0) records.
3.2.1 - Data SIG
If the SIG record covers an RRset, the name type of the associated
KEY MUST be 01 (zone) [RFC2535, 3.1.2]. This updates RFC 2535,
section 2.3.6. The DNSSEC validation process performed by a resolver
MUST ignore all keys that are not zone keys unless local policy
The primary reason that RFC 2535 allows host and user keys to
generate material DNSSEC signatures is to allow dynamic update
without online zone keys; that is, avoid storing private keys in an
online server. The desire to avoid online signing keys cannot be
achieved, though, because they are necessary to sign NXT and SOA sets
[RFC3007]. These online zone keys can sign any incoming data.
Removing the goal of having no online keys removes the reason to
allow host and user keys to generate material signatures.
Limiting material signatures to zone keys simplifies the validation
process. The length of the verification chain is bounded by the
name's label depth. The authority of a key is clearly defined; a
resolver does not need to make a potentially complicated decision to
determine whether a key has the proper authority to sign data.
Finally, there is no additional flexibility granted by allowing
host/user key generated material signatures. As long as users and
hosts have the ability to authenticate update requests to the primary
zone server, signatures by zone keys are sufficient to protect the
integrity of the data to the world at large.
3.2.2 - SIG(0)
If the SIG record is a SIG(0) protecting a message, the name type of
the associated KEY SHOULD be 00 (user) or 10 (host/entity).
Transactions are initiated by a host or user, not a zone, so zone
keys SHOULD not generate SIG(0) records.
A client is either explicitly executed by a user or on behalf of a
host, therefore the name type of a SIG(0) generated by a client
SHOULD be either user or host. A nameserver is associated with a
host, and its use of SIG(0) is not associated with a particular zone,
so the name type of a SIG(0) generated by a nameserver SHOULD be
3.3 - Signatory Flags
This document does not assign any values to the signatory field, nor
require any values to be present.
3.4 - Protocol
The signing KEY record MUST have a protocol value of 3 (DNSSEC) or
255 (ALL). If a key is not specified for use with DNSSEC, a DNSSEC
resolver MUST NOT trust any signature that it generates.
3.5 - Algorithm Number
The algorithm field MUST be identical to that of the generated SIG
record, and MUST meet all requirements for an algorithm value in a
4 - Security Considerations
This document defines a standard baseline for a DNSSEC capable
resolver. This is necessary for a thorough security analysis of
DNSSEC, if one is to be done.
Specifically, this document places additional restrictions on SIG
records that a resolver must validate before the signature can be
considered worthy of DNSSEC trust. This simplifies the protocol,
making it more robust and able to withstand scrutiny by the security
5 - Acknowledgements
The author would like to thank the following people for review and
informative comments (in alphabetical order):
6 - References
[RFC1034] Mockapetris, P., "Domain Names - Concepts and Facilities",
STD 13, RFC 1034, November 1987.
[RFC1035] Mockapetris, P., "Domain Names - Implementation and
Specification", STD 13, RFC 1035, November 1987.
[RFC2119] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.
[RFC2136] Vixie (Ed.), P., Thomson, S., Rekhter, Y. and J. Bound,
"Dynamic Updates in the Domain Name System", RFC 2136,
[RFC2535] Eastlake, D., "Domain Name System Security Extensions",
RFC 2535, March 1999.
[RFC2931] Eastlake, D., "DNS Request and Transaction Signatures
(SIG(0)s )", RFC 2931, September 2000.
[RFC3007] Wellington, B., "Simple Secure Domain Name System
(DNS) Dynamic Update", RFC 3007, November 2000.
7 - Author's Address
950 Charter Street
Redwood City, CA 94063
Phone: +1 650 381 6022
8 Full Copyright Statement
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