RFC3007: Secure Domain Name System (DNS) Dynamic Update

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Obsoletes:  RFC2137

Network Working Group                                      B. Wellington
Request for Comments: 3007                                       Nominum
Updates: 2535, 2136                                        November 2000
Obsoletes: 2137
Category: Standards Track

             Secure Domain Name System (DNS) Dynamic Update

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 (2000).  All Rights Reserved.


   This document proposes a method for performing secure Domain Name
   System (DNS) dynamic updates.  The method described here is intended
   to be flexible and useful while requiring as few changes to the
   protocol as possible.  The authentication of the dynamic update
   message is separate from later DNSSEC validation of the data.  Secure
   communication based on authenticated requests and transactions is
   used to provide authorization.

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [RFC2119].

1 - Introduction

   This document defines a means to secure dynamic updates of the Domain
   Name System (DNS), allowing only authorized sources to make changes
   to a zone's contents.  The existing unsecured dynamic update
   operations form the basis for this work.

   Familiarity with the DNS system [RFC1034, RFC1035] and dynamic update
   [RFC2136] is helpful and is assumed by this document.  In addition,
   knowledge of DNS security extensions [RFC2535], SIG(0) transaction
   security [RFC2535, RFC2931], and TSIG transaction security [RFC2845]
   is recommended.

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   This document updates portions of RFC 2535, in particular section
   3.1.2, and RFC 2136.  This document obsoletes RFC 2137, an alternate
   proposal for secure dynamic update, due to implementation experience.

1.1 - Overview of DNS Dynamic Update

   DNS dynamic update defines a new DNS opcode and a new interpretation
   of the DNS message if that opcode is used.  An update can specify
   insertions or deletions of data, along with prerequisites necessary
   for the updates to occur.  All tests and changes for a DNS update
   request are restricted to a single zone, and are performed at the
   primary server for the zone.  The primary server for a dynamic zone
   must increment the zone SOA serial number when an update occurs or
   before the next retrieval of the SOA.

1.2 - Overview of DNS Transaction Security

   Exchanges of DNS messages which include TSIG [RFC2845] or SIG(0)
   [RFC2535, RFC2931] records allow two DNS entities to authenticate DNS
   requests and responses sent between them.  A TSIG MAC (message
   authentication code) is derived from a shared secret, and a SIG(0) is
   generated from a private key whose public counterpart is stored in
   DNS.  In both cases, a record containing the message signature/MAC is
   included as the final resource record in a DNS message.  Keyed
   hashes, used in TSIG, are inexpensive to calculate and verify.
   Public key encryption, as used in SIG(0), is more scalable as the
   public keys are stored in DNS.

1.3 - Comparison of data authentication and message authentication

   Message based authentication, using TSIG or SIG(0), provides
   protection for the entire message with a single signing and single
   verification which, in the case of TSIG, is a relatively inexpensive
   MAC creation and check.  For update requests, this signature can
   establish, based on policy or key negotiation, the authority to make
   the request.

   DNSSEC SIG records can be used to protect the integrity of individual
   RRs or RRsets in a DNS message with the authority of the zone owner.
   However, this cannot sufficiently protect the dynamic update request.

   Using SIG records to secure RRsets in an update request is
   incompatible with the design of update, as described below, and would
   in any case require multiple expensive public key signatures and

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   SIG records do not cover the message header, which includes record
   counts.  Therefore, it is possible to maliciously insert or remove
   RRsets in an update request without causing a verification failure.

   If SIG records were used to protect the prerequisite section, it
   would be impossible to determine whether the SIGs themselves were a
   prerequisite or simply used for validation.

   In the update section of an update request, signing requests to add
   an RRset is straightforward, and this signature could be permanently
   used to protect the data, as specified in [RFC2535].  However, if an
   RRset is deleted, there is no data for a SIG to cover.

1.4 - Data and message signatures

   As specified in [RFC3008], the DNSSEC validation process performed by
   a resolver MUST NOT process any non-zone keys unless local policy
   dictates otherwise.  When performing secure dynamic update, all zone
   data modified in a signed zone MUST be signed by a relevant zone key.
   This completely disassociates authentication of an update request
   from authentication of the data itself.

   The primary usefulness of host and user keys, with respect to DNSSEC,
   is to authenticate messages, including dynamic updates.  Thus, host
   and user keys MAY be used to generate SIG(0) records to authenticate
   updates and MAY be used in the TKEY [RFC2930] process to generate
   TSIG shared secrets.  In both cases, no SIG records generated by
   non-zone keys will be used in a DNSSEC validation process unless
   local policy dictates.

   Authentication of data, once it is present in DNS, only involves
   DNSSEC zone keys and signatures generated by them.

1.5 - Signatory strength

   [RFC2535, section 3.1.2] defines the signatory field of a key as the
   final 4 bits of the flags field, but does not define its value.  This
   proposal leaves this field undefined.  Updating [RFC2535], this field
   SHOULD be set to 0 in KEY records, and MUST be ignored.

2 - Authentication

   TSIG or SIG(0) records MUST be included in all secure dynamic update
   messages.  This allows the server to verifiably determine the
   originator of a message.  If the message contains authentication in
   the form of a SIG(0), the identity of the sender (that is, the
   principal) is the owner of the KEY RR that generated the SIG(0).  If
   the message contains a TSIG generated by a statically configured

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   shared secret, the principal is the same as or derived from the
   shared secret name.  If the message contains a TSIG generated by a
   dynamically configured shared secret, the principal is the same as
   the one that authenticated the TKEY process; if the TKEY process was
   unauthenticated, no information is known about the principal, and the
   associated TSIG shared secret MUST NOT be used for secure dynamic

   SIG(0) signatures SHOULD NOT be generated by zone keys, since
   transactions are initiated by a host or user, not a zone.

   DNSSEC SIG records (other than SIG(0)) MAY be included in an update
   message, but MUST NOT be used to authenticate the update request.

   If an update fails because it is signed with an unauthorized key, the
   server MUST indicate failure by returning a message with RCODE
   REFUSED.  Other TSIG, SIG(0), or dynamic update errors are returned
   as specified in the appropriate protocol description.

3 - Policy

   All policy is configured by the zone administrator and enforced by
   the zone's primary name server.  Policy dictates the authorized
   actions that an authenticated principal can take.  Policy checks are
   based on the principal and the desired action, where the principal is
   derived from the message signing key and applied to dynamic update
   messages signed with that key.

   The server's policy defines criteria which determine if the key used
   to sign the update is permitted to perform the requested updates.  By
   default, a principal MUST NOT be permitted to make any changes to
   zone data; any permissions MUST be enabled though configuration.

   The policy is fully implemented in the primary zone server's
   configuration for several reasons.  This removes limitations imposed
   by encoding policy into a fixed number of bits (such as the KEY RR's
   signatory field).  Policy is only relevant in the server applying it,
   so there is no reason to expose it.  Finally, a change in policy or a
   new type of policy should not affect the DNS protocol or data format,
   and should not cause interoperability failures.

3.1 - Standard policies

   Implementations SHOULD allow access control policies to use the
   principal as an authorization token, and MAY also allow policies to
   grant permission to a signed message regardless of principal.

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   A common practice would be to restrict the permissions of a principal
   by domain name.  That is, a principal could be permitted to add,
   delete, or modify entries corresponding to one or more domain names.
   Implementations SHOULD allow per-name access control, and SHOULD
   provide a concise representation of the principal's own name, its
   subdomains, and all names in the zone.

   Additionally, a server SHOULD allow restricting updates by RR type,
   so that a principal could add, delete, or modify specific record
   types at certain names.  Implementations SHOULD allow per-type access
   control, and SHOULD provide concise representations of all types and
   all "user" types, where a user type is defined as one that does not
   affect the operation of DNS itself.

3.1.1 - User types

   User types include all data types except SOA, NS, SIG, and NXT.  SOA
   and NS records SHOULD NOT be modified by normal users, since these
   types create or modify delegation points.  The addition of SIG
   records can lead to attacks resulting in additional workload for
   resolvers, and the deletion of SIG records could lead to extra work
   for the server if the zone SIG was deleted.  Note that these records
   are not forbidden, but not recommended for normal users.

   NXT records MUST NOT be created, modified, or deleted by dynamic
   update, as their update may cause instability in the protocol.  This
   is an update to RFC 2136.

   Issues concerning updates of KEY records are discussed in the
   Security Considerations section.

3.2 - Additional policies

   Users are free to implement any policies.  Policies may be as
   specific or general as desired, and as complex as desired.  They may
   depend on the principal or any other characteristics of the signed

4 - Interaction with DNSSEC

   Although this protocol does not change the way updates to secure
   zones are processed, there are a number of issues that should be

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4.1 - Adding SIGs

   An authorized update request MAY include SIG records with each RRset.
   Since SIG records (except SIG(0) records) MUST NOT be used for
   authentication of the update message, they are not required.

   If a principal is authorized to update SIG records and there are SIG
   records in the update, the SIG records are added without
   verification.  The server MAY examine SIG records and drop SIGs with
   a temporal validity period in the past.

4.2 - Deleting SIGs

   If a principal is authorized to update SIG records and the update
   specifies the deletion of SIG records, the server MAY choose to
   override the authority and refuse the update.  For example, the
   server may allow all SIG records not generated by a zone key to be

4.3 - Non-explicit updates to SIGs

   If the updated zone is secured, the RRset affected by an update
   operation MUST, at the completion of the update, be signed in
   accordance with the zone's signing policy.  This will usually require
   one or more SIG records to be generated by one or more zone keys
   whose private components MUST be online [RFC3008].

   When the contents of an RRset are updated, the server MAY delete all
   associated SIG records, since they will no longer be valid.

4.4 - Effects on the zone

   If any changes are made, the server MUST, if necessary, generate a
   new SOA record and new NXT records, and sign these with the
   appropriate zone keys.  Changes to NXT records by secure dynamic
   update are explicitly forbidden.  SOA updates are allowed, since the
   maintenance of SOA parameters is outside of the scope of the DNS

5 - Security Considerations

   This document requires that a zone key and possibly other
   cryptographic secret material be held in an on-line, network-
   connected host, most likely a name server.  This material is at the
   mercy of host security to remain a secret.  Exposing this secret puts
   DNS data at risk of masquerade attacks.  The data at risk is that in
   both zones served by the machine and delegated from this machine.

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   Allowing updates of KEY records may lead to undesirable results,
   since a principal may be allowed to insert a public key without
   holding the private key, and possibly masquerade as the key owner.

6 - Acknowledgements

   The author would like to thank the following people for review and
   informative comments (in alphabetical order):

   Harald Alvestrand
   Donald Eastlake
   Olafur Gudmundsson
   Andreas Gustafsson
   Bob Halley
   Stuart Kwan
   Ed Lewis

7 - 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.

   [RFC2136]  Vixie (Ed.), P., Thomson, S., Rekhter, Y. and J. Bound,
              "Dynamic Updates in the Domain Name System", RFC 2136,
              April 1997.

   [RFC2137]  Eastlake, D., "Secure Domain Name System Dynamic Update",
              RFC 2137, April 1997.

   [RFC2535]  Eastlake, G., "Domain Name System Security Extensions",
              RFC 2535, March 1999.

   [RFC2845]  Vixie, P., Gudmundsson, O., Eastlake, D. and B.
              Wellington, "Secret Key Transaction Signatures for DNS
              (TSIG)", RFC 2845, May 2000.

   [RFC2930]  Eastlake, D., "Secret Key Establishment for DNS (TKEY
              RR)", RFC 2930, September 2000.

   [RFC2931]  Eastlake, D., "DNS Request and Transaction Signatures
              (SIG(0)s)", RFC 2931, September 2000.

   [RFC3008]  Wellington, B., "Domain Name System Security (DNSSEC)
              Signing Authority", RFC 3008, November 2000.

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8 - Author's Address

   Brian Wellington
   Nominum, Inc.
   950 Charter Street
   Redwood City, CA 94063

   Phone: +1 650 381 6022
   EMail: Brian.Wellington@nominum.com

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9.  Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2000).  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


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

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