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RFC 3757

Domain Name System KEY (DNSKEY) Resource Record (RR) Secure Entry Point (SEP) Flag

Pages: 8
Obsoleted by:  403340344035
Updates:  37552535

ToP   noToC   RFC3757 - Page 1
Network Working Group                                         O. Kolkman
Request for Comments: 3757                                      RIPE NCC
Updates: 3755, 2535                                          J. Schlyter
Category: Standards Track                                         NIC-SE
                                                                E. Lewis
                                                              April 2004

         Domain Name System KEY (DNSKEY) Resource Record (RR)
                     Secure Entry Point (SEP) Flag

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 Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004).  All Rights Reserved.


With the Delegation Signer (DS) resource record (RR), the concept of a public key acting as a secure entry point (SEP) has been introduced. During exchanges of public keys with the parent there is a need to differentiate SEP keys from other public keys in the Domain Name System KEY (DNSKEY) resource record set. A flag bit in the DNSKEY RR is defined to indicate that DNSKEY is to be used as a SEP. The flag bit is intended to assist in operational procedures to correctly generate DS resource records, or to indicate what DNSKEYs are intended for static configuration. The flag bit is not to be used in the DNS verification protocol. This document updates RFC 2535 and RFC 3755.
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Table of Contents

1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2. The Secure Entry Point (SEP) Flag. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 3. DNSSEC Protocol Changes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 4. Operational Guidelines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 5. Security Considerations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 6. IANA Considerations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 7. Internationalization Considerations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 8. Acknowledgments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 9. References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 9.1. Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 9.2. Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 10. Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 11. Full Copyright Statement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

1. Introduction

"All keys are equal but some keys are more equal than others" [6]. With the definition of the Delegation Signer Resource Record (DS RR) [5], it has become important to differentiate between the keys in the DNSKEY RR set that are (to be) pointed to by parental DS RRs and the other keys in the DNSKEY RR set. We refer to these public keys as Secure Entry Point (SEP) keys. A SEP key either used to generate a DS RR or is distributed to resolvers that use the key as the root of a trusted subtree [3]. In early deployment tests, the use of two (kinds of) key pairs for each zone has been prevalent. For one kind of key pair the private key is used to sign just the zone's DNSKEY resource record (RR) set. Its public key is intended to be referenced by a DS RR at the parent or configured statically in a resolver. The private key of the other kind of key pair is used to sign the rest of the zone's data sets. The former key pair is called a key-signing key (KSK) and the latter is called a zone-signing key (ZSK). In practice there have been usually one of each kind of key pair, but there will be multiples of each at times. It should be noted that division of keys pairs into KSK's and ZSK's is not mandatory in any definition of DNSSEC, not even with the introduction of the DS RR. But, in testing, this distinction has been helpful when designing key roll over (key super-cession) schemes. Given that the distinction has proven helpful, the labels KSK and ZSK have begun to stick.
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   There is a need to differentiate the public keys for the key pairs
   that are used for key signing from keys that are not used key signing
   (KSKs vs ZSKs).  This need is driven by knowing which DNSKEYs are to
   be sent for generating DS RRs, which DNSKEYs are to be distributed to
   resolvers, and which keys are fed to the signer application at the
   appropriate time.

   In other words, the SEP bit provides an in-band method to communicate
   a DNSKEY RR's intended use to third parties.  As an example we
   present 3 use cases in which the bit is useful:

      The parent is a registry, the parent and the child use secured DNS
      queries and responses, with a preexisting trust-relation, or plain
      DNS over a secured channel to exchange the child's DNSKEY RR sets.
      Since a DNSKEY RR set will contain a complete DNSKEY RRset the SEP
      bit can be used to isolate the DNSKEYs for which a DS RR needs to
      be created.

      An administrator has configured a DNSKEY as root for a trusted
      subtree into security aware resolver.  Using a special purpose
      tool that queries for the KEY RRs from that domain's apex, the
      administrator will be able to notice the roll over of the trusted
      anchor by a change of the subset of KEY RRs with the DS flag set.

      A signer might use the SEP bit on the public key to determine
      which private key to use to exclusively sign the DNSKEY RRset and
      which private key to use to sign the other RRsets in the zone.

   As demonstrated in the above examples it is important to be able to
   differentiate the SEP keys from the other keys in a DNSKEY RR set in
   the flow between signer and (parental) key-collector and in the flow
   between the signer and the resolver configuration.  The SEP flag is
   to be of no interest to the flow between the verifier and the
   authoritative data store.

   The reason for the term "SEP" is a result of the observation that the
   distinction between KSK and ZSK key pairs is made by the signer, a
   key pair could be used as both a KSK and a ZSK at the same time.  To
   be clear, the term SEP was coined to lessen the confusion caused by
   the overlap.  (Once this label was applied, it had the side effect of
   removing the temptation to have both a KSK flag bit and a ZSK flag

   The key words "MAY","MAY NOT", "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED",
   "RECOMMENDED", "SHOULD", and "SHOULD NOT" in this document are to be
   interpreted as described in BCP 14, RFC 2119 [1].
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2. The Secure Entry Point (SEP) Flag

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ | flags |S| protocol | algorithm | | |E| | | | |P| | | +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ | / / public key / / / +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ DNSKEY RR Format This document assigns the 15th bit in the flags field as the secure entry point (SEP) bit. If the bit is set to 1 the key is intended to be used as secure entry point key. One SHOULD NOT assign special meaning to the key if the bit is set to 0. Operators can recognize the secure entry point key by the even or odd-ness of the decimal representation of the flag field.

3. DNSSEC Protocol Changes

The bit MUST NOT be used during the resolving and verification process. The SEP flag is only used to provide a hint about the different administrative properties of the key and therefore the use of the SEP flag does not change the DNS resolution protocol or the resolution process.

4. Operational Guidelines

The SEP bit is set by the key-pair-generator and MAY be used by the zone signer to decide whether the public part of the key pair is to be prepared for input to a DS RR generation function. The SEP bit is recommended to be set (to 1) whenever the public key of the key pair will be distributed to the parent zone to build the authentication chain or if the public key is to be distributed for static configuration in verifiers. When a key pair is created, the operator needs to indicate whether the SEP bit is to be set in the DNSKEY RR. As the SEP bit is within the data that is used to compute the 'key tag field' in the SIG RR, changing the SEP bit will change the identity of the key within DNS. In other words, once a key is used to generate signatures, the setting of the SEP bit is to remain constant. If not, a verifier will not be able to find the relevant KEY RR.
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   When signing a zone, it is intended that the key(s) with the SEP bit
   set (if such keys exist) are used to sign the KEY RR set of the zone.
   The same key can be used to sign the rest of the zone data too.  It
   is conceivable that not all keys with a SEP bit set will sign the
   DNSKEY RR set, such keys might be pending retirement or not yet in

   When verifying a RR set, the SEP bit is not intended to play a role.
   How the key is used by the verifier is not intended to be a
   consideration at key creation time.

   Although the SEP flag provides a hint on which public key is to be
   used as trusted root, administrators can choose to ignore the fact
   that a DNSKEY has its SEP bit set or not when configuring a trusted
   root for their resolvers.

   Using the SEP flag a key roll over can be automated.  The parent can
   use an existing trust relation to verify DNSKEY RR sets in which a
   new DNSKEY RR with the SEP flag appears.

5. Security Considerations

As stated in Section 3 the flag is not to be used in the resolution protocol or to determine the security status of a key. The flag is to be used for administrative purposes only. No trust in a key should be inferred from this flag - trust MUST be inferred from an existing chain of trust or an out-of-band exchange. Since this flag might be used for automating public key exchanges, we think the following consideration is in place. Automated mechanisms for roll over of the DS RR might be vulnerable to a class of replay attacks. This might happen after a public key exchange where a DNSKEY RR set, containing two DNSKEY RRs with the SEP flag set, is sent to the parent. The parent verifies the DNSKEY RR set with the existing trust relation and creates the new DS RR from the DNSKEY RR that the current DS RR is not pointing to. This key exchange might be replayed. Parents are encouraged to implement a replay defense. A simple defense can be based on a registry of keys that have been used to generate DS RRs during the most recent roll over. These same considerations apply to entities that configure keys in resolvers.
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6. IANA Considerations

IANA has assigned the 15th bit in the DNSKEY Flags Registry (see Section 4.3 of [4]) as the Secure Entry Point (SEP) bit.

7. Internationalization Considerations

Although SEP is a popular acronym in many different languages, there are no internationalization considerations.

8. Acknowledgments

The ideas documented in this document are inspired by communications we had with numerous people and ideas published by other folk. Among others Mark Andrews, Rob Austein, Miek Gieben, Olafur Gudmundsson, Daniel Karrenberg, Dan Massey, Scott Rose, Marcos Sanz and Sam Weiler have contributed ideas and provided feedback. This document saw the light during a workshop on DNSSEC operations hosted by USC/ISI in August 2002.

9. References

9.1. Normative References

[1] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997. [2] Eastlake, D., "Domain Name System Security Extensions", RFC 2535, March 1999. [3] Lewis, E., "DNS Security Extension Clarification on Zone Status", RFC 3090, March 2001. [4] Weiler, S., "Legacy Resolver Compatibility for Delegation Signer (DS)", RFC 3755, April 2004.

9.2. Informative References

[5] Gudmundsson, O., "Delegation Signer (DS) Resource Record (RR)", RFC 3658, December 2003. [6] Orwell, G. and R. Steadman (illustrator), "Animal Farm; a Fairy Story", ISBN 0151002177 (50th anniversary edition), April 1996.
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10. Authors' Addresses

Olaf M. Kolkman RIPE NCC Singel 256 Amsterdam 1016 AB NL Phone: +31 20 535 4444 EMail: URI: Jakob Schlyter NIC-SE Box 5774 SE-114 87 Stockholm Sweden EMail: URI: Edward P. Lewis ARIN 3635 Concorde Parkway Suite 200 Chantilly, VA 20151 US Phone: +1 703 227 9854 EMail: URI:
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11. Full Copyright Statement

Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004). This document is subject to the rights, licenses and restrictions contained in BCP 78 and except as set forth therein, the authors retain all their rights. This document and the information contained herein are provided on an "AS IS" basis and THE CONTRIBUTOR, THE ORGANIZATION HE/SHE REPRESENTS OR IS SPONSORED BY (IF ANY), THE INTERNET SOCIETY AND THE INTERNET ENGINEERING TASK FORCE DISCLAIM 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. Intellectual Property The IETF takes no position regarding the validity or scope of any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights that might be claimed to pertain to the implementation or use of the technology described in this document or the extent to which any license under such rights might or might not be available; nor does it represent that it has made any independent effort to identify any such rights. Information on the procedures with respect to rights in RFC documents can be found in BCP 78 and BCP 79. Copies of IPR disclosures made to the IETF Secretariat and any assurances of licenses to be made available, or the result of an attempt made to obtain a general license or permission for the use of such proprietary rights by implementers or users of this specification can be obtained from the IETF on-line IPR repository at The IETF invites any interested party to bring to its attention any copyrights, patents or patent applications, or other proprietary rights that may cover technology that may be required to implement this standard. Please address the information to the IETF at Acknowledgement Funding for the RFC Editor function is currently provided by the Internet Society.