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RFC 6054 - Using Counter Modes with Encapsulating Security Paylo

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Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)                         D. McGrew
Request for Comments: 6054                                       B. Weis
Category: Standards Track                                  Cisco Systems
ISSN: 2070-1721                                            November 2010

   Using Counter Modes with Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP) and
          Authentication Header (AH) to Protect Group Traffic


   Counter modes have been defined for block ciphers such as the
   Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).  Counter modes use a counter,
   which is typically assumed to be incremented by a single sender.
   This memo describes the use of counter modes when applied to the
   Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP) and Authentication Header (AH)
   in multiple-sender group applications.

Status of This Memo

   This is an Internet Standards Track document.

   This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force
   (IETF).  It represents the consensus of the IETF community.  It has
   received public review and has been approved for publication by the
   Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG).  Further information on
   Internet Standards is available in Section 2 of RFC 5741.

   Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
   and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2010 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.

Table of Contents

   1. Introduction ....................................................2
      1.1. Requirements Notation ......................................2
   2. Problem Statement ...............................................2
   3. IV Formation for Counter Modes with Group Keys ..................3
   4. Group Key Management Conventions ................................4
   5. Security Considerations .........................................5
   6. Acknowledgements ................................................6
   7. References ......................................................6
      7.1. Normative References .......................................6
      7.2. Informative References .....................................6
   Appendix A. Rationale for the IV Formation for Counter Modes
               with Group Keys ........................................9
   Appendix B. Example ................................................9

1.  Introduction

   The IP Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP) specification [RFC4303]
   and Authentication Header (AH) [RFC4302] are security protocols for
   IPsec [RFC4301].  Several new AES encryption modes of operation have
   been specified for ESP: Counter Mode (CTR) [RFC3686], Galois/Counter
   Mode (GCM) [RFC4106], and Counter with Cipher Block Chaining-Message
   Authentication Code (CBC-MAC) Mode (CCM) [RFC4309]; and one that has
   been specified for both ESP and AH: the Galois Message Authentication
   Code (GMAC) [RFC4543].  A Camellia counter mode [RFC5528] and a GOST
   counter mode [RFC4357] have also been specified.  These new modes
   offer advantages over traditional modes of operation.  However, they
   all have restrictions on their use in situations in which multiple
   senders are protecting traffic using the same key.  This document
   addresses this restriction and describes how these modes can be used
   with group key management protocols such as the Group Domain of
   Interpretation (GDOI) protocol [RFC3547] and the Group Secure
   Association Key Management Protocol (GSAKMP) [RFC4535].

1.1.  Requirements Notation

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

2.  Problem Statement

   The Counter Mode (CTR) of operation [FIPS.800-38A.2001] has become
   important because of its performance and implementation advantages.
   It is the basis for several modes of operation that combine
   authentication with encryption, including CCM and GCM.  All of the
   counter-based modes require that, if a single key is shared by

   multiple encryption engines, those engines must coordinate to ensure
   that every Initialization Vector (IV) used with that key is distinct.
   That is, for each key, no IV value can be used more than once.  This
   restriction on IV usage is imposed on ESP CTR, ESP GCM, and ESP CCM.
   In cryptographic terms, the IV is a nonce.  (Note that CBC mode
   [RFC3602] requires IVs that are unpredictable.  CTR, GCM, GMAC, and
   CCM do not have this restriction.)

   All ESP and AH transforms using a block cipher counter mode have a
   restriction that an application must not use the same key, IV, and
   Salt values to protect two different data payloads.  Notwithstanding
   this security condition, block cipher counter mode transforms are
   often preferred because of their favorable performance
   characteristics as compared to other modes.

   Each of the block cipher counter mode transforms specify the
   construction of keying material for point-to-point applications that
   are keyed by the Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) [RFC5996].
   The specified constructions guarantee that the security condition is
   not violated by a single sender.  Group applications of IPsec
   [RFC5374] may also find counter mode transforms to be valuable.  Some
   group applications can create an IPsec Security Association (SA) per
   sender, which meets the security condition, and no further
   specification is required.  However, IPsec can be used to protect
   group applications known as Many-to-Many Applications [RFC3170],
   where a single IPsec SA is used to protect network traffic between
   members of a multiple-sender IP multicast application.  Some Many-to-
   Many Applications are comprised of a large number of senders, in
   which case defining an individual IPsec SA for each sender is

3.  IV Formation for Counter Modes with Group Keys

   This section specifies a particular construction of the IV that
   enables a group of senders to safely share a single IPsec SA.  This
   construction conforms to the recommendations of [RFC5116].  A
   rationale for this method is given in Appendix A.  In the
   construction defined by this specification, each IV is formed by
   concatenating a Sender Identifier (SID) field with a Sender-Specific
   IV (SSIV) field.  The value of the SID MUST be unique for each
   sender, across all of the senders sharing a particular Security
   Association.  The value of the SSIV field MUST be unique for each IV
   constructed by a particular sender for use with a particular SA.  The
   SSIV MAY be chosen in any manner convenient to the sender, e.g.,
   successive values of a counter.  The leftmost bits of the IV contain
   the SID, and the remaining bits contain the SSIV.  By way of example,
   Figure 1 shows the correct placement of an 8-bit SID within an
   Initialization Vector.

       0                   1                   2                   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
      !      SID      !                                               !
      +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+                  SSIV                         !
      !                                                               !

                      Figure 1.  IV with an 8-bit SID

   The number of bits used by the SID may vary depending on group
   policy, though for each particular Security Association, each SID
   used with that SA MUST have the same length.  To facilitate
   interoperability, a conforming implementation MUST support SID
   lengths of 8, 12, and 16 bits.  It should be noted that the size of
   the SID associated with an SA provides a trade-off between the number
   of possible senders and the number of packets that each sending
   station is able to send using that SA.

4.  Group Key Management Conventions

   Group applications use a Group Key Management System (GKMS) composed
   of one or more Group Controller and Key Server (GCKS) entities
   [RFC3740].  The GKMS distributes IPsec transform policy and
   associated keying material to authorized group members.  This
   document RECOMMENDS that the GKMS both allocate unique SIDs to group
   members and distribute them to group members using a GKM protocol
   such as GDOI or GSAKMP.  The strategy used by the GKMS does not need
   to be mandated in order to achieve interoperability; the GKMS is
   solely responsible for allocating SIDs for the group.  Allocating
   SIDs sequentially is acceptable as long as the allocation method
   follows the requirements in this section.

   The following requirements apply to a GKMS that manages SIDs.  One
   example of such a GKMS is [GDOI-UPDATE].

   o  For each SA for which sender identifiers are used, the GKMS MUST
      NOT give the same sender identifier to more than one active group
      member.  If the GKMS is uncertain as to the SID associated with a
      group member, it MUST allocate it a new one.  If more than one
      entity within the GKMS is distributing sender identifiers, then
      the sets of identifiers distributed by each entity MUST NOT

   o  If the entire set of sender identifiers has been exhausted, the
      GKMS MUST refuse to allow new group members to join.
      Alternatively, the GKMS could distribute replacement ESP or AH
      Security Associations to all group members.  When replacement SAs
      are distributed, the GKMS could also distribute larger SID values
      so that more senders can be accommodated.

   o  The GKMS SHOULD allocate a single sender identifier for each group
      member, and issue this value to the sender for all group SAs for
      which that member is a sender.  This strategy enables both the
      GKMS and the senders to avoid managing SIDs on a per-SA basis.  It
      also simplifies the rekeying process, since SIDs do not need to be
      changed or re-issued along with replacement SAs during a rekey

   o  When a GKMS determines that a particular group member is no longer
      a part of the group, then it MAY re-allocate any sender identifier
      associated with that group member for use with a new group member.
      In this case, the GKMS MUST first delete and replace any active AH
      or ESP SAs with which the SID may have been used.  This is
      necessary to avoid re-use of an IV with the cipher key associated
      with the SA.

5.  Security Considerations

   This specification provides a method for securely using cryptographic
   algorithms that require a unique IV, such as a block cipher mode of
   operation based on counter mode, in a scenario in which there are
   multiple cryptographic devices that each generate IVs.  This is done
   by partitioning the set of possible IV values such that each
   cryptographic device has exclusive use of a set of IV values.  When
   the recommendations in this specification are followed, the security
   of the cryptographic algorithms is equivalent to the conventional
   case in which there is a single sender.  Unlike CBC mode, CTR, GCM,
   GMAC, and CCM do not require IVs that are unpredictable.

   The security of a group depends upon the correct operation of the
   group members.  Any group member using an SID not allocated to it may
   reduce the security of the system.

   As is the case with a single sender, a cryptographic device storing
   keying material over a reboot is responsible for storing a counter
   value such that upon resumption it never re-uses counters.  In the
   context of this specification, the cryptographic device would need to
   store both SID and SSIV values used with a particular IPsec SA in
   addition to policy associated with the IPsec SA.

   A group member that reaches the end of its IV space MUST stop sending
   data traffic on that SA.  This can happen if the group member does
   not notify the GKMS in time for the GKMS to remedy the problem (e.g.,
   to provide the group member with a new SID or to provide a new SA),
   or if the GKMS ignores the notification for some reason.  In this
   case, the group member should re-register with the GCKS and expect to
   receive the SAs that it needs to continue participating in the group.

   This specification does not address virtual machine rollbacks that
   may cause the cryptographic device to re-use nonce values.

   Other security considerations applying to IPsec SAs with multiple
   senders are described in [RFC5374].

6.  Acknowledgements

   The authors wish to thank David Black, Sheela Rowles, and Alfred
   Hoenes for their helpful comments and suggestions.

7.  References

7.1.  Normative References

   [RFC2119]   Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
               Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [RFC4302]   Kent, S., "IP Authentication Header", RFC 4302, December

   [RFC4303]   Kent, S., "IP Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP)",
               RFC 4303, December 2005.

7.2.  Informative References

               National Institute of Standards and Technology,
               "Recommendation for Block Cipher Modes of Operation",
               Special Publication FIPS PUB 800-38A, December 2001,

               Weis, B., Rowles, S., and T. Hardjono, "The Group Domain
               of Interpretation", Work in Progress, October 2010.

   [H52]       Huffman, D., "A Method for the Construction of Minimum-
               Redundancy Codes", Proceedings of the IRE, Volume:40,
               Issue:9, On page(s): 1098-1101, ISSN: 0096-8390,
               September 1952, <http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/

   [RFC3170]   Quinn, B. and K. Almeroth, "IP Multicast Applications:
               Challenges and Solutions", RFC 3170, September 2001.

   [RFC3547]   Baugher, M., Weis, B., Hardjono, T., and H. Harney, "The
               Group Domain of Interpretation", RFC 3547, July 2003.

   [RFC3602]   Frankel, S., Glenn, R., and S. Kelly, "The AES-CBC Cipher
               Algorithm and Its Use with IPsec", RFC 3602, September

   [RFC3686]   Housley, R., "Using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
               Counter Mode With IPsec Encapsulating Security Payload
               (ESP)", RFC 3686, January 2004.

   [RFC3740]   Hardjono, T. and B. Weis, "The Multicast Group Security
               Architecture", RFC 3740, March 2004.

   [RFC3948]   Huttunen, A., Swander, B., Volpe, V., DiBurro, L., and M.
               Stenberg, "UDP Encapsulation of IPsec ESP Packets",
               RFC 3948, January 2005.

   [RFC4106]   Viega, J. and D. McGrew, "The Use of Galois/Counter Mode
               (GCM) in IPsec Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP)",
               RFC 4106, June 2005.

   [RFC4301]   Kent, S. and K. Seo, "Security Architecture for the
               Internet Protocol", RFC 4301, December 2005.

   [RFC4309]   Housley, R., "Using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
               CCM Mode with IPsec Encapsulating Security Payload
               (ESP)", RFC 4309, December 2005.

   [RFC4357]   Popov, V., Kurepkin, I., and S. Leontiev, "Additional
               Cryptographic Algorithms for Use with GOST 28147-89, GOST
               R 34.10-94, GOST R 34.10-2001, and GOST R 34.11-94
               Algorithms", RFC 4357, January 2006.

   [RFC4535]   Harney, H., Meth, U., Colegrove, A., and G. Gross,
               "GSAKMP: Group Secure Association Key Management
               Protocol", RFC 4535, June 2006.

   [RFC4543]   McGrew, D. and J. Viega, "The Use of Galois Message
               Authentication Code (GMAC) in IPsec ESP and AH",
               RFC 4543, May 2006.

   [RFC5116]   McGrew, D., "An Interface and Algorithms for
               Authenticated Encryption", RFC 5116, January 2008.

   [RFC5374]   Weis, B., Gross, G., and D. Ignjatic, "Multicast
               Extensions to the Security Architecture for the Internet
               Protocol", RFC 5374, November 2008.

   [RFC5528]   Kato, A., Kanda, M., and S. Kanno, "Camellia Counter Mode
               and Camellia Counter with CBC-MAC Mode Algorithms",
               RFC 5528, April 2009.

   [RFC5996]   Kaufman, C., Hoffman, P., Nir, Y., and P. Eronen,
               "Internet Key Exchange Protocol Version 2 (IKEv2)",
               RFC 5996, September 2010.

Appendix A.  Rationale for the IV Formation for Counter Modes with Group

   The two main alternatives for ensuring the uniqueness of IVs in a
   multi-sender environment are to have each sender include a Sender
   Identifier (SID) value in either the Salt value or in the explicit IV
   field (recall that the IV used as input to the crypto algorithm is
   constructed by concatenating the Salt and the explicit IV).  The
   explicit IV field was chosen as the location for the SID because it
   is explicitly present in the packet.  If the SID had been included in
   the Salt, then a receiver would need to infer the SID value for a
   particular AH or ESP packet by recognizing which sender had sent that
   packet.  This inference could be made on the IP source address, if AH
   or ESP is transported directly over IP.  However, if an alternate
   transport mechanism such as UDP is being used [RFC3948] (e.g., for
   NAT traversal), the method used to infer the sender would need to
   take that mechanism into account.  It is simpler to use the explicit
   IV field, and thus avoid the need to infer the sender from the packet
   at all.

   The normative requirement that all of the SID values used with a
   particular Security Association must have the same length is not
   strictly necessary, but was added to promote simplicity of
   implementation.  Alternatively, it would be acceptable to have the
   SID values be chosen to be the codewords of a variable-length
   prefix-free code.  This approach preserves security since the
   distinctness of the IVs follows from the fact that no SID is a prefix
   of another; thus, any pair of IVs has a subset of bits that are
   distinct.  If a Huffman code [H52] is used to form the SIDs, then a
   set of optimal SIDs can be found, in the sense that the number of
   SIDs can be maximized for a given distribution of SID lengths.
   Additionally, there are simple methods for generating efficient
   prefix-free codes whose codewords are octet strings.  Nevertheless,
   these methods were disallowed in order to favor simplicity over

Appendix B.  Example

   This section provides an example of SID allocation and IV generation,
   as defined in this document.  A GCKS administrator determines that
   the group has one SA that is shared by all senders.  The algorithm
   for the SA is AES-GCM using an SID of size 8 bits.

   When the first sender registers with the GCKS, it is allocated SID 1.
   The sender subsequently sends AES-GCM encrypted packets with the
   following IVs (shown in network byte order): 0x0100000000000001,
   0x0100000000000002, 0x0100000000000003, ... with a final value of
   0x01FFFFFFFFFFFFFF.  The second sender registering with the GCKS is

   allocated SID 2, and begins sending packets with the following IVs:
   0x0200000000000001, 0x0200000000000002, 0x0200000000000003, ... with
   a final value of 0x02FFFFFFFFFFFFFF.

   According to group policy, the GCKS may later distribute policy and
   keying material for a replacement SA.  When group senders begin
   sending AES-GCM packets encrypted with the new SA, each sender
   continues to use the SID value previously allocated to it.  For
   example, the sender allocated SID 2 would be sending on a new SA with
   IV values of 0x0200000000000001, 0x0200000000000002,
   0x0200000000000003, ... with a final value of 0x02FFFFFFFFFFFFFF.

Authors' Addresses

   David A. McGrew
   Cisco Systems
   170 W. Tasman Drive
   San Jose, California  95134-1706

   Phone: +1-408-525-8651
   EMail: mcgrew@cisco.com

   Brian Weis
   Cisco Systems
   170 W. Tasman Drive
   San Jose, California  95134-1706

   Phone: +1-408-526-4796
   EMail: bew@cisco.com


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