HTTP Working GroupM. Nottingham
Internet-DraftM. Thomson
Intended status: ExperimentalMozilla
Expires: April 7, 2017October 4, 2016

Opportunistic Security for HTTP

draft-ietf-httpbis-http2-encryption-07

Abstract

This document describes how http URIs can be accessed using Transport Layer Security (TLS) to mitigate pervasive monitoring attacks.

Note to Readers

Discussion of this draft takes place on the HTTP working group mailing list (ietf-http-wg@w3.org), which is archived at https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/ietf-http-wg/.

Working Group information can be found at http://httpwg.github.io/; source code and issues list for this draft can be found at https://github.com/httpwg/http-extensions/labels/opp-sec.

Status of this Memo

This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Note that other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts. The list of current Internet-Drafts is at http://datatracker.ietf.org/drafts/current/.

Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material or to cite them other than as “work in progress”.

This Internet-Draft will expire on April 7, 2017.

Copyright Notice

Copyright © 2016 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the document authors. All rights reserved.

This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal Provisions Relating to IETF Documents (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of publication of this document. Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect to this document. Code Components extracted from this document must include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as described in the Simplified BSD License.


1. Introduction

This document describes a use of HTTP Alternative Services [RFC7838] to decouple the URI scheme from the use and configuration of underlying encryption, allowing a http URI [RFC7230] to be accessed using Transport Layer Security (TLS) [RFC5246] opportunistically.

Serving https URIs requires avoiding Mixed Content [W3C.CR-mixed-content-20160802], which is problematic in many deployments. This document describes a usage model whereby sites can serve http URIs over TLS, thereby avoiding these issues, while still providing protection against passive attacks.

Opportunistic Security [RFC7435] does not provide the same guarantees as using TLS with https URIs; it is vulnerable to active attacks, and does not change the security context of the connection. Normally, users will not be able to tell that it is in use (i.e., there will be no “lock icon”).

1.1. Goals and Non-Goals

The immediate goal is to make the use of HTTP more robust in the face of pervasive passive monitoring [RFC7258].

A secondary (but significant) goal is to provide for ease of implementation, deployment and operation. This mechanism is expected to have a minimal impact upon performance, and require a trivial administrative effort to configure.

Preventing active attacks (such as a Man-in-the-Middle) is a non-goal for this specification. Furthermore, this specification is not intended to replace or offer an alternative to https, since it both prevents active attacks and invokes a more stringent security model in most clients.

1.2. Notational Conventions

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].

2. Using HTTP URIs over TLS

An origin server that supports the resolution of http URIs can indicate support for this specification by providing an alternative service advertisement [RFC7838] for a protocol identifier that uses TLS, such as h2 [RFC7540].

A client that receives such an advertisement MAY make future requests intended for the associated origin ([RFC6454]) to the identified service (as specified by [RFC7838]), provided that the alternative service opts in as described in Section 2.1.

A client that places the importance of protection against passive attacks over performance might choose to withhold requests until an encrypted connection is available. However, if such a connection cannot be successfully established, the client can resume its use of the cleartext connection.

A client can also explicitly probe for an alternative service advertisement by sending a request that bears little or no sensitive information, such as one with the OPTIONS method. Likewise, clients with existing alternative services information could make such a request before they expire, in order minimize the delays that might be incurred.

Client certificates are not meaningful for URLs with the http scheme, and therefore clients creating new TLS connections to alternative services for the purposes of this specification MUST NOT present them. Established connections with client certificates MAY be reused, however.

2.1. Alternative Server Opt-In

It is possible that the server might become confused about whether requests’ URLs have a http or https scheme, for various reasons; see Section 4.4. To ensure that the alternative service has opted into serving http URLs over TLS, clients are required to perform additional checks before directing http requests to it.

Clients MUST NOT send http requests over a connection with the h2 protocol identifier, unless they have obtained a valid http-opportunistic response for an origin (as per Section 2.3), and:

  • The chosen alternative service presents a certificate that is valid for the origin, as per [RFC2818] (this also establishes “reasonable assurances” for the purposes of {RFC7838}}), and
  • The origin object of the http-opportunistic response has a `tls-ports’ member, whose value is an array of numbers, one of which matches the port of the alternative service in question, and
  • The chosen alternative service returns the same representation as the origin did for the http-opportunistic resource.

For example, this request/response pair would allow reqeusts for the origin “http://www.example.com” to be sent to an alternative service on port 443 or 8000 of the host “www.example.com”:

GET /.well-known/http-opportunistic HTTP/1.1
Host: www.example.com

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: application/json
Connection: close

{
  "http://www.example.com": {
    "tls-ports": [443, 8000],
    "lifetime": 2592000
  }
}

2.2. Interaction with “https” URIs

When using alternative services, requests for resources identified by both http and https URIs might use the same connection, because HTTP/2 permits requests for multiple origins on the same connection.

Because of the risk of server confusion about individual requests’ schemes (see Section 4.4), clients MUST NOT send http requests on a connection that has previously been used for https requests, unless the http-opportunistic origin object Section 2.3 fetched over that connection has a “mixed-scheme” member whose value is “true”.

2.3. The “http-opportunistic” well-known URI

This specification defines the “http-opportunistic” well-known URI [RFC5785]. A client is said to have a valid http-opportunistic response for a given origin when:

  • The client has obtained a 200 (OK) response for the well-known URI from the origin, and it is fresh [RFC7234] (potentially through revalidation [RFC7232]), and
  • That response has the media type “application/json”, and
  • That response’s payload, when parsed as JSON [RFC7159], contains an object as the root, and
  • The root object contains a member whose name is a case-insensitive character-for-character match for the origin in question, serialised into Unicode as per Section 6.1 of [RFC6454], and whose value is an object (hereafter, the “origin object”),
  • The origin object has a “lifetime” member, whose value is a number indicating the number of seconds which the origin object is valid for (hereafter, the “origin object lifetime”), and
  • The origin object lifetime is greater than the current_age (as per [RFC7234], Section 4.2.3).

Note that origin object lifetime might differ from the freshness lifetime of the response.

3. IANA Considerations

This specification registers a Well-Known URI [RFC5785]:

4. Security Considerations

4.1. Security Indicators

User Agents MUST NOT provide any special security indicia when an http resource is acquired using TLS. In particular, indicators that might suggest the same level of security as https MUST NOT be used (e.g., a “lock device”).

4.2. Downgrade Attacks

A downgrade attack against the negotiation for TLS is possible.

For example, because the Alt-Svc header field [RFC7838] likely appears in an unauthenticated and unencrypted channel, it is subject to downgrade by network attackers. In its simplest form, an attacker that wants the connection to remain in the clear need only strip the Alt-Svc header field from responses.

4.3. Privacy Considerations

Cached alternative services can be used to track clients over time; e.g., using a user-specific hostname. Clearing the cache reduces the ability of servers to track clients; therefore clients MUST clear cached alternative service information when clearing other origin-based state (i.e., cookies).

4.4. Confusion Regarding Request Scheme

HTTP implementations and applications sometimes use ambient signals to determine if a request is for an https resource; for example, they might look for TLS on the stack, or a server port number of 443.

This might be due to limitations in the protocol (the most common HTTP/1.1 request form does not carry an explicit indication of the URI scheme), or it may be because how the server and application are implemented (often, they are two separate entities, with a variety of possible interfaces between them).

Any security decisions based upon this information could be misled by the deployment of this specification, because it violates the assumption that the use of TLS (or port 443) means that the client is accessing a HTTPS URI, and operating in the security context implied by HTTPS.

Therefore, servers need to carefully examine the use of such signals before deploying this specification.

4.5. Server Controls

This specification requires that a server send both an Alternative Service advertisement and host content in a well-known location to send HTTP requests over TLS. Servers SHOULD take suitable measures to ensure that the content of the well-known resource remains under their control. Likewise, because the Alt-Svc header field is used to describe policies across an entire origin, servers SHOULD NOT permit user content to set or modify the value of this header.

5. References

5.1. Normative References

[RFC2119]
Bradner, S., “Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels”, BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc2119>.
[RFC2818]
Rescorla, E., “HTTP Over TLS”, RFC 2818, DOI 10.17487/RFC2818, May 2000, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc2818>.
[RFC5246]
Dierks, T. and E. Rescorla, “The Transport Layer Security (TLS) Protocol Version 1.2”, RFC 5246, DOI 10.17487/RFC5246, August 2008, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc5246>.
[RFC5785]
Nottingham, M. and E. Hammer-Lahav, “Defining Well-Known Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs)”, RFC 5785, DOI 10.17487/RFC5785, April 2010, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc5785>.
[RFC6454]
Barth, A., “The Web Origin Concept”, RFC 6454, DOI 10.17487/RFC6454, December 2011, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc6454>.
[RFC7159]
Bray, T., Ed., “The JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) Data Interchange Format”, RFC 7159, DOI 10.17487/RFC7159, March 2014, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7159>.
[RFC7230]
Fielding, R., Ed. and J. Reschke, Ed., “Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP/1.1): Message Syntax and Routing”, RFC 7230, DOI 10.17487/RFC7230, June 2014, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7230>.
[RFC7232]
Fielding, R., Ed. and J. Reschke, Ed., “Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP/1.1): Conditional Requests”, RFC 7232, DOI 10.17487/RFC7232, June 2014, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7232>.
[RFC7234]
Fielding, R., Ed., Nottingham, M., Ed., and J. Reschke, Ed., “Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP/1.1): Caching”, RFC 7234, DOI 10.17487/RFC7234, June 2014, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7234>.
[RFC7540]
Belshe, M., Peon, R., and M. Thomson, Ed., “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Version 2 (HTTP/2)”, RFC 7540, DOI 10.17487/RFC7540, May 2015, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7540>.
[RFC7838]
Nottingham, M., McManus, P., and J. Reschke, “HTTP Alternative Services”, RFC 7838, DOI 10.17487/RFC7838, April 2016, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7838>.

5.2. Informative References

[RFC7258]
Farrell, S. and H. Tschofenig, “Pervasive Monitoring Is an Attack”, BCP 188, RFC 7258, DOI 10.17487/RFC7258, May 2014, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7258>.
[RFC7435]
Dukhovni, V., “Opportunistic Security: Some Protection Most of the Time”, RFC 7435, DOI 10.17487/RFC7435, December 2014, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7435>.
[RFC7469]
Evans, C., Palmer, C., and R. Sleevi, “Public Key Pinning Extension for HTTP”, RFC 7469, DOI 10.17487/RFC7469, April 2015, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7469>.
[W3C.CR-mixed-content-20160802]
West, M., “Mixed Content”, World Wide Web Consortium CR CR-mixed-content-20160802, August 2016, <https://www.w3.org/TR/2016/CR-mixed-content-20160802>.

A. Acknowledgements

Mike Bishop contributed significant text to this document.

Thanks to Patrick McManus, Stefan Eissing, Eliot Lear, Stephen Farrell, Guy Podjarny, Stephen Ludin, Erik Nygren, Paul Hoffman, Adam Langley, Eric Rescorla, Julian Reschke, Kari Hurtta, and Richard Barnes for their feedback and suggestions.

Authors' Addresses

Mark Nottingham
EMail: mnot@mnot.net
URI: https://www.mnot.net/
Martin Thomson
Mozilla
EMail: martin.thomson@gmail.com