in Index   Prev   Next

RFC 4017

Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) Method Requirements for Wireless LANs

Pages: 11

Top   ToC   RFC4017 - Page 1
Network Working Group                                         D. Stanley
Request for Comments: 4017                                 Agere Systems
Category: Informational                                        J. Walker
                                                       Intel Corporation
                                                                B. Aboba
                                                   Microsoft Corporation
                                                              March 2005

      Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) Method Requirements
                           for Wireless LANs

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2005).


The IEEE 802.11i MAC Security Enhancements Amendment makes use of IEEE 802.1X, which in turn relies on the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP). This document defines requirements for EAP methods used in IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN deployments. The material in this document has been approved by IEEE 802.11 and is being presented as an IETF RFC for informational purposes.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction ................................................. 2 1.1. Requirements Specification ............................. 2 1.2. Terminology ............................................ 2 2. Method Requirements .......................................... 3 2.1. Credential Types ....................................... 3 2.2. Mandatory Requirements ................................. 4 2.3. Recommended Requirements ............................... 5 2.4. Optional Features ...................................... 5 2.5. Non-compliant EAP Authentication Methods ............... 5 3. Security Considerations ...................................... 6 4. References ................................................... 8 Acknowledgments .................................................. 9 Authors' Addresses ............................................... 10 Full Copyright Statement ......................................... 11
Top   ToC   RFC4017 - Page 2

1. Introduction

The IEEE 802.11i MAC Security Enhancements Amendment [IEEE802.11i] makes use of IEEE 802.1X [IEEE802.1X], which in turn relies on the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP), defined in [RFC3748]. Today, deployments of IEEE 802.11 wireless LANs are based on EAP and use several EAP methods, including EAP-TLS [RFC2716], EAP-TTLS [TTLS], PEAP [PEAP], and EAP-SIM [EAPSIM]. These methods support authentication credentials that include digital certificates, user- names and passwords, secure tokens, and SIM secrets. This document defines requirements for EAP methods used in IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN deployments. EAP methods claiming conformance to the IEEE 802.11 EAP method requirements for wireless LANs must complete IETF last call review.

1.1. Requirements Specification

In this document, several words are used to signify the requirements of the specification. 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 [RFC2119]. An EAP authentication method is not compliant with this specification if it fails to satisfy one or more of the MUST or MUST NOT requirements. An EAP authentication method that satisfies all the MUST, MUST NOT, SHOULD, and SHOULD NOT requirements is said to be "unconditionally compliant"; one that satisfies all the MUST and MUST NOT requirements but not all the SHOULD or SHOULD NOT requirements is said to be "conditionally compliant".

1.2. Terminology

authenticator The end of the link initiating EAP authentication. The term authenticator is used in [IEEE802.1X], and authenticator has the same meaning in this document. peer The end of the link that responds to the authenticator. In [IEEE802.1X], this end is known as the supplicant. Supplicant The end of the link that responds to the authenticator in [IEEE802.1X].
Top   ToC   RFC4017 - Page 3
   backend authentication server
      A backend authentication server is an entity that provides an
      authentication service to an authenticator.  When used, this
      server typically executes EAP methods for the authenticator.  This
      terminology is also used in [IEEE802.1X].

   EAP server
      The entity that terminates the EAP authentication method with the
      peer.  In the case where no backend authentication server is used,
      the EAP server is part of the authenticator.  In the case where
      the authenticator operates in pass-through mode, the EAP server is
      located on the backend authentication server.

   Master Session Key (MSK)
      Keying material that is derived between the EAP peer and server
      and exported by the EAP method.  The MSK is at least 64 octets in
      length.  In existing implementations, an AAA server acting as an
      EAP server transports the MSK to the authenticator.

   Extended Master Session Key (EMSK)
      Additional keying material derived between the EAP client and
      server that is exported by the EAP method.  The EMSK is at least
      64 octets in length.  The EMSK is not shared with the
      authenticator or any other third party.  The EMSK is reserved for
      future uses that are not yet defined.

   4-Way Handshake
      A pairwise Authentication and Key Management Protocol (AKMP)
      defined in [IEEE802.11i], which confirms mutual possession of a
      Pairwise Master Key by two parties and distributes a Group Key.

2. Method Requirements

2.1. Credential Types

The IEEE 802.11i MAC Security Enhancements Amendment requires that EAP authentication methods be available. Wireless LAN deployments are expected to use different credential types, including digital certificates, user-names and passwords, existing secure tokens, and mobile network credentials (GSM and UMTS secrets). Other credential types that may be used include public/private key (without necessarily requiring certificates) and asymmetric credential support (such as password on one side, public/private key on the other).
Top   ToC   RFC4017 - Page 4

2.2. Mandatory Requirements

EAP authentication methods suitable for use in wireless LAN authentication MUST satisfy the following criteria: [1] Generation of symmetric keying material. This corresponds to the "Key derivation" security claim defined in [RFC3748], Section 7.2.1. [2] Key strength. An EAP method suitable for use with IEEE 802.11 MUST be capable of generating keying material with 128-bits of effective key strength, as defined in [RFC3748], Section 7.2.1. As noted in [RFC3748], Section 7.10, an EAP method supporting key derivation MUST export a Master Session Key (MSK) of at least 64 octets, and an Extended Master Session Key (EMSK) of at least 64 octets. [3] Mutual authentication support. This corresponds to the "Mutual authentication" security claim defined in [RFC3748], Section 7.2.1. [4] Shared state equivalence. The shared EAP method state of the EAP peer and server must be equivalent when the EAP method is successfully completed on both sides. This includes the internal state of the authentication protocol but not the state external to the EAP method, such as the negotiation occurring prior to initiation of the EAP method. The exact state attributes that are shared may vary from method to method, but typically include the method version number, the credentials presented and accepted by both parties, the cryptographic keys shared, and the EAP method specific attributes negotiated, such as ciphersuites and limitations of usage on all protocol state. Both parties must be able to distinguish this instance of the protocol from all other instances of the protocol, and they must share the same view regarding which state attributes are public and which are private to the two parties alone. The server must obtain the authenticated peer name, and the peer must obtain the authenticated server name (if the authenticated server name is available). [5] Resistance to dictionary attacks. This corresponds to the "Dictionary attack resistance" security claim defined in [RFC3748], Section 7.2.1. [6] Protection against man-in-the-middle attacks. This corresponds to the "Cryptographic binding", "Integrity protection", "Replay protection", and "Session independence" security claims defined in [RFC3748], Section 7.2.1.
Top   ToC   RFC4017 - Page 5
   [7]  Protected ciphersuite negotiation.  If the method negotiates the
        ciphersuite used to protect the EAP conversation, then it MUST
        support the "Protected ciphersuite negotiation" security claim
        defined in [RFC3748], Section 7.2.1.

2.3. Recommended Requirements

EAP authentication methods used for wireless LAN authentication SHOULD support the following features: [8] Fragmentation. This implies support for the "Fragmentation" claim defined in [RFC3748], Section 7.2.1. [RFC3748], Section 3.1 states: "EAP methods can assume a minimum EAP MTU of 1020 octets, in the absence of other information. EAP methods SHOULD include support for fragmentation and reassembly if their payloads can be larger than this minimum EAP MTU." [9] End-user identity hiding. This corresponds to the "Confidentiality" security claim defined in [RFC3748], Section 7.2.1.

2.4. Optional Features

EAP authentication methods used for wireless LAN authentication MAY support the following features: [10] Channel binding. This corresponds to the "Channel binding" security claim defined in [RFC3748], Section 7.2.1. [11] Fast reconnect. This corresponds to the "Fast reconnect" security claim defined in [RFC3748], Section 7.2.1.

2.5. Non-compliant EAP Authentication Methods

EAP-MD5-Challenge (the current mandatory-to-implement EAP authentication method), is defined in [RFC3748], Section 5.4. As defined in [RFC3748], EAP-MD5-Challenge, One-Time Password (Section 5.5), and Generic Token Card (Section 5.6) are non-compliant with the requirements specified in this document. As noted in [RFC3748], these methods do not support any of the mandatory requirements defined in Section 2.2, including key derivation and mutual authentication. In addition, these methods do not support any of the recommended features defined in Section 2.3 or any of the optional features defined in Section 2.4.
Top   ToC   RFC4017 - Page 6

3. Security Considerations

Within [IEEE802.11i], EAP is used for both authentication and key exchange between the EAP peer and server. Given that wireless local area networks provide ready access to an attacker within range, EAP usage within [IEEE802.11i] is subject to the threats outlined in [RFC3748], Section 7.1. Security considerations relating to EAP are discussed in [RFC3748], Sections 7; where an authentication server is utilized, the security considerations described in [RFC3579], Section 4, will apply. The system security properties required to address the threats described in [RFC3748], Section 7.1, are noted in [Housley56]. In the material below, the requirements articulated in [Housley56] are listed, along with the corresponding recommendations. Algorithm independence Requirement: "Wherever cryptographic algorithms are chosen, the algorithms must be negotiable, in order to provide resilience against compromise of a particular cryptographic algorithm." This issue is addressed by mandatory requirement [7] in Section 2.2. Algorithm independence is one of the EAP invariants described in [KEYFRAME]. Strong, fresh session keys Requirement: "Session keys must be demonstrated to be strong and fresh in all circumstances, while at the same time retaining algorithm independence." Key strength is addressed by mandatory requirement [2] in Section 2.2. Recommendations for ensuring the Freshness of keys derived by EAP methods are discussed in [RFC3748], Section 7.10. Replay protection Requirement: "All protocol exchanges must be replay protected." This is addressed by mandatory requirement [6] in Section 2.2. Authentication Requirements: "All parties need to be authenticated. The confidentiality of the authenticator must be maintained. No plaintext passwords are allowed."
Top   ToC   RFC4017 - Page 7
      Mutual authentication is required as part of mandatory requirement
      [3] in Section 2.2.  Identity protection is a recommended
      capability, described in requirement [9] in Section 2.3.  EAP does
      not support plaintext passwords, as noted in [RFC3748], Section

      Requirement: "EAP peer and authenticator authorization must be

      Authorization issues are discussed in [RFC3748], Sections 1.2 and
      7.16.  Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting (AAA)
      protocols such as RADIUS [RFC2865][RFC3579] may be used to enable
      authorization of EAP peers by a central authority.  AAA
      authorization issues are discussed in [RFC3579], Sections 2.6.3
      and 4.3.7.

   Session keys
      Requirement: "Confidentiality of session keys must be maintained."

      Issues relating to Key Derivation are described in [RFC3748],
      Section 7.10, as well as in [KEYFRAME].

   Ciphersuite negotiation
      Requirement: "The selection of the "best" ciphersuite must be
      securely confirmed."

      This is addressed in mandatory requirement [7] in Section 2.2.

   Unique naming
      Requirement: "Session keys must be uniquely named."

      Key naming issues are addressed in [KEYFRAME].

   Domino effect
      Requirement: "Compromise of a single authenticator cannot
      compromise any other part of the system, including session keys
      and long-term secrets."

      This issue is addressed by mandatory requirement [6] in Section

   Key binding
      Requirement: "The key must be bound to the appropriate context."

      This issue is addressed in optional requirement [10] in Section
      2.4.  Channel binding is also discussed in Section 7.15 of
      [RFC3748] and Section 4.3.7 of [RFC3579].
Top   ToC   RFC4017 - Page 8

4. References

4.1. Normative References

[RFC2119] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997. [RFC2865] Rigney, C., Willens, S., Rubens, A., and W. Simpson, "Remote Authentication Dial In User Service (RADIUS)", RFC 2865, June 2000. [RFC3579] Aboba, B. and P. Calhoun, "RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial In User Service) Support For Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP)", RFC 3579, September 2003. [RFC3748] Aboba, B., Blunk, L., Vollbrecht, J., Carlson, J., and H. Levkowetz, "Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP)", RFC 3748, June 2004. [802.11] Information technology - Telecommunications and information exchange between systems - Local and metropolitan area networks - Specific Requirements Part 11: Wireless LAN Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications, IEEE Std. 802.11- 2003, 2003. [IEEE802.1X] IEEE Standards for Local and Metropolitan Area Networks: Port based Network Access Control, IEEE Std 802.1X-2004, December 2004. [IEEE802.11i] Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, "Supplement to Standard for Telecommunications and Information Exchange Between Systems - LAN/MAN Specific Requirements - Part 11: Wireless LAN Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications: Specification for Enhanced Security", IEEE 802.11i, July 2004.
Top   ToC   RFC4017 - Page 9

4.2. Informative References

[Housley56] Housley, R., "Key Management in AAA", Presentation to the AAA WG at IETF 56, 5/index.html, March 2003. [RFC2716] Aboba, B. and D. Simon, "PPP EAP TLS Authentication Protocol", RFC 2716, October 1999. [PEAP] Palekar, A., et al., "Protected EAP Protocol (PEAP)", Work in Progress, July 2004. [TTLS] Funk, P. and S. Blake-Wilson, "EAP Tunneled TLS Authentication Protocol (EAP-TTLS)", Work in Progress, August 2004. [EAPSIM] Haverinen, H. and J. Salowey, "EAP SIM Authentication", Work in Progress, April 2004. [KEYFRAME] Aboba, B., et al., "EAP Key Management Framework", Work in Progress, July 2004.


The authors would like to acknowledge contributions to this document from members of the IEEE 802.11i Task Group, including Russ Housley of Vigil Security, David Nelson of Enterasys Networks and Clint Chaplin of Symbol Technologies, as well as members of the EAP WG including Joe Salowey of Cisco Systems, Pasi Eronen of Nokia, Jari Arkko of Ericsson, and Florent Bersani of France Telecom.
Top   ToC   RFC4017 - Page 10

Authors' Addresses

Dorothy Stanley Agere Systems 2000 North Naperville Rd. Naperville, IL 60566 Phone: +1 630 979 1572 EMail: Jesse R. Walker Intel Corporation 2111 N.E. 25th Avenue Hillsboro, OR 97214 EMail: Bernard Aboba Microsoft Corporation One Microsoft Way Redmond, WA 98052 Phone: +1 425 818 4011 Fax: +1 425 936 7329 EMail:
Top   ToC   RFC4017 - Page 11
Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2005).

   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

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 ietf-


   Funding for the RFC Editor function is currently provided by the
   Internet Society.