RFC 2284
This document is obsolete. Please refer to RFC 3748.

Network Working Group                                          L. Blunk
Request for Comments: 2284                                J. Vollbrecht
Category: Standards Track                           Merit Network, Inc.
                                                             March 1998

              PPP Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP)

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 (1998).  All Rights Reserved.


   The Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) [1] provides a standard method for
   transporting multi-protocol datagrams over point-to-point links.

   PPP also defines an extensible Link Control Protocol, which allows
   negotiation of an Authentication Protocol for authenticating its peer
   before allowing Network Layer protocols to transmit over the link.

   This document defines the PPP Extensible Authentication Protocol.

Table of Contents

   1.     Introduction ..........................................    2
      1.1       Specification of Requirements ...................    2
      1.2       Terminology .....................................    2
   2.     PPP Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) ..........    3
      2.1       Configuration Option Format .....................    4
      2.2       Packet Format ...................................    6
         2.2.1  Request and Response ............................    6
         2.2.2  Success and Failure .............................    7
   3.     Initial EAP Request/Response Types ....................    8
      3.1       Identity ........................................    9
      3.2       Notification ....................................   10
      3.3       Nak .............................................   10

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      3.4       MD5-Challenge ...................................   11
      3.5       One-Time Password (OTP) .........................   11
      3.6       Generic Token Card ..............................   12
   REFERENCES ...................................................   13
   ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .............................................   14
   CHAIR'S ADDRESS ..............................................   14
   AUTHORS' ADDRESSES ...........................................   14
   Full Copyright Statement .....................................   15

1.  Introduction

   In order to establish communications over a point-to-point link, each
   end of the PPP link must first send LCP packets to configure the data
   link during Link Establishment phase.  After the link has been
   established, PPP provides for an optional Authentication phase before
   proceeding to the Network-Layer Protocol phase.

   By default, authentication is not mandatory.  If authentication of
   the link is desired, an implementation MUST specify the
   Authentication-Protocol Configuration Option during Link
   Establishment phase.

   These authentication protocols are intended for use primarily by
   hosts and routers that connect to a PPP network server via switched
   circuits or dial-up lines, but might be applied to dedicated links as
   well.  The server can use the identification of the connecting host
   or router in the selection of options for network layer negotiations.

   This document defines the PPP Extensible Authentication Protocol
   (EAP).  The Link Establishment and Authentication phases, and the
   Authentication-Protocol Configuration Option, are defined in The
   Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) [1].

1.1.  Specification of Requirements

   In this document, several words are used to signify the requirements
   of the specification.  These words are often capitalized.  The key
   "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED",  "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document
   are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [6].

1.2.  Terminology

   This document frequently uses the following terms:

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             The end of the link requiring the authentication.  The
             authenticator specifies the authentication protocol to be
             used in the Configure-Request during Link Establishment

             The other end of the point-to-point link; the end which is
             being authenticated by the authenticator.

   silently discard
             This means the implementation discards the packet without
             further processing.  The implementation SHOULD provide the
             capability of logging the error, including the contents of
             the silently discarded packet, and SHOULD record the event
             in a statistics counter.

   displayable message
             This is interpreted to be a human readable string of
             characters, and MUST NOT affect operation of the protocol.
             The message encoding MUST follow the UTF-8 transformation
             format [5].

2.  PPP Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP)

   The PPP Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP)  is a general
   protocol for PPP authentication which supports multiple
   authentication mechanisms.  EAP does not select a specific
   authentication mechanism at Link Control Phase, but rather postpones
   this until the Authentication Phase.  This allows the authenticator
   to request more information before determining the specific
   authentication mechanism.  This also permits the use of a "back-end"
   server which actually implements the various mechanisms while the PPP
   authenticator merely passes through the authentication exchange.

   1. After the Link Establishment phase is complete, the authenticator
      sends one or more Requests to authenticate the peer.  The Request
      has a type field to indicate what is being requested.  Examples of
      Request types include Identity,  MD5-challenge, One-Time
      Passwords, Generic Token Card, etc.  The MD5-challenge type
      corresponds closely to the CHAP authentication protocol.
      Typically, the authenticator will send an initial Identity Request
      followed by one or more Requests for authentication information.
      However, an initial Identity Request is not required, and MAY be
      bypassed in cases where the identity is presumed (leased lines,
      dedicated dial-ups, etc.).

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   2. The peer sends a Response packet in reply to each Request.  As
      with the Request packet, the Response packet contains a type field
      which corresponds to the type field of the Request.

   3. The authenticator ends the authentication phase with a Success or
      Failure packet.


   The EAP protocol can support multiple authentication mechanisms
   without having to pre-negotiate a particular one during LCP Phase.

   Certain devices (e.g. a NAS) do not necessarily have to understand
   each request type and may be able to simply act as a passthrough
   agent for a "back-end" server on a host.  The device only need look
   for the success/failure code to terminate the authentication phase.


   EAP does require the addition of a new authentication type to LCP and
   thus PPP implementations will need to be modified to use it.  It also
   strays from the previous PPP authentication model of negotiating a
   specific authentication mechanism during LCP.

2.1.  Configuration Option Format

   A summary of the Authentication-Protocol Configuration Option format
   to negotiate the EAP Authentication Protocol is shown below.  The
   fields are transmitted from left to right.

    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
   |     Type      |    Length     |     Authentication-Protocol   |






      C227 (Hex) for PPP Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP)

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2.2.  Packet Format

   Exactly one PPP EAP packet is encapsulated in the Information field
   of a PPP Data Link Layer frame where the protocol field indicates
   type hex C227 (PPP EAP).  A summary of the EAP packet format is shown
   below.  The fields are transmitted from left to right.

    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
   |     Code      |  Identifier   |            Length             |
   |    Data ...


      The Code field is one octet and identifies the type of EAP packet.
      EAP Codes are assigned as follows:

         1       Request
         2       Response
         3       Success
         4       Failure


          The Identifier field is one octet and aids in matching
          responses with requests.


          The Length field is two octets and indicates the length of the
          EAP packet including the Code, Identifier, Length and Data
          fields.  Octets outside the range of the Length field should
          be treated as Data Link Layer padding and should be ignored on


          The Data field is zero or more octets.  The format of the Data
          field is determined by the Code field.

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2.2.1.  Request and Response


      The Request packet is sent by the authenticator to the peer.  Each
      Request has a type field which serves to indicate what is being
      requested.  The authenticator MUST transmit an EAP packet with the
      Code field set to 1 (Request).  Additional Request packets MUST be
      sent until a valid Response packet is received, or an optional
      retry counter expires.  Retransmitted Requests MUST be sent with
      the same Identifier value in order to distinguish them from new
      Requests.  The contents of the data field is dependent on the
      Request type.  The peer MUST send a Response packet in reply to a
      Request packet.  Responses MUST only be sent in reply to a
      received Request and never retransmitted on a timer.  The
      Identifier field of the Response MUST match that of the Request.

         Implementation Note: Because the authentication process will
         often involve user input, some care must be taken when deciding
         upon retransmission strategies and authentication timeouts.  It
         is suggested a retransmission timer of 6 seconds with a maximum
         of 10 retransmissions be used as default.  One may wish to make
         these timeouts longer in certain cases (e.g. where Token Cards
         are involved).  Additionally, the peer must be prepared to
         silently discard received retransmissions while waiting for
         user input.

   A summary of the Request and Response packet format is shown below.
   The fields are transmitted from left to right.

    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
   |     Code      |  Identifier   |            Length             |
   |     Type      |  Type-Data ...


      1 for Request;

      2 for Response.

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      The Identifier field is one octet.  The Identifier field MUST be
      the same if a Request packet is retransmitted due to a timeout
      while waiting for a Response.  Any new (non-retransmission)
      Requests MUST modify the Identifier field.  If a peer recieves a
      duplicate Request for which it has already sent a Response, it
      MUST resend it's Response.  If a peer receives a duplicate Request
      before it has sent a Response to the initial Request (i.e. it's
      waiting for user input), it MUST silently discard the duplicate


      The Length field is two octets and indicates the length of the EAP
      packet including the Code, Identifier, Length, Type, and Type-Data
      fields.  Octets outside the range of the Length field should be
      treated as Data Link Layer padding and should be ignored on


      The Type field is one octet.  This field indicates the Type of
      Request or Response.  Only one Type MUST be specified per EAP
      Request or Response.  Normally, the Type field of the Response
      will be the same as the Type of the Request.  However, there is
      also a Nak Response Type for indicating that a Request type is
      unacceptable to the peer.  When sending a Nak in response to a
      Request, the peer MAY indicate an alternative desired
      authentication Type which it supports. An initial specification of
      Types follows in a later section of this document.


      The Type-Data field varies with the Type of Request and the
      associated Response.

2.2.2.  Success and Failure


      The Success packet is sent by the authenticator to the peer to
      acknowledge successful authentication.  The authenticator MUST
      transmit an EAP packet with the Code field set to 3 (Success).

      If the authenticator cannot authenticate the peer (unacceptable
      Responses to one or more Requests) then the implementation MUST
      transmit an EAP packet with the Code field set to 4 (Failure).  An

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      authenticator MAY wish to issue multiple Requests before sending a
      Failure response in order to allow for human typing mistakes.

         Implementation Note: Because the Success and Failure packets
         are not acknowledged, they may be potentially lost.  A peer
         MUST allow for this circumstance.  The peer can use a Network
         Protocol packet as an alternative indication of Success.
         Likewise, the receipt of a LCP Terminate-Request can be taken
         as a Failure.

   A summary of the Success and Failure packet format is shown below.
   The fields are transmitted from left to right.

    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
   |     Code      |  Identifier   |            Length             |


      3 for Success;

      4 for Failure.


      The Identifier field is one octet and aids in matching replies to
      Responses.  The Identifier field MUST match the Indentifier field
      of the Response packet that it is sent in response to.



3.  Initial EAP Request/Response Types

   This section defines the initial set of EAP Types used in
   Request/Response exchanges.  More Types may be defined in follow-on
   documents.  The Type field is one octet and identifies the structure
   of an EAP Request or Response packet.  The first 3 Types are
   considered special case Types.  The remaining Types define
   authentication exchanges.  The Nak Type is valid only for Response
   packets, it MUST NOT be sent in a Request.  The Nak Type MUST only be

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   sent in repsonse to a Request which uses an authentication Type code.
   All EAP implementatins MUST support Types 1-4.  These Types, as well
   as types 5 and 6, are defined in this document.  Follow-on RFCs will
   define additional EAP Types.

      1       Identity
      2       Notification
      3       Nak (Response only)
      4       MD5-Challenge
      5       One-Time Password (OTP) (RFC 1938)
      6       Generic Token Card

3.1.  Identity


      The Identity Type is used to query the identity of the peer.
      Generally, the authenticator will issue this as the initial
      Request.  An optional displayable message MAY be included to
      prompt the peer in the case where there expectation of interaction
      with a user.  A Response MUST be sent to this Request with a Type
      of 1 (Identity).

         Implementation Note:  The peer MAY obtain the Identity via user
         input.  It is suggested that the authenticator retry the
         Indentity Request in the case of an invalid Identity or
         authentication failure to allow for potential typos on the part
         of the user.  It is suggested that the Identity Request be
         retried a minimum of 3 times before terminating the
         authentication phase with a Failure reply.  The Notification
         Request MAY be used to indicate an invalid authentication
         attempt prior to transmitting a new Identity Request
         (optionally, the failure MAY be indicated within the message of
         the new Identity Request itself).




      This field MAY contain a displayable message in the Request.  The
      Response uses this field to return the Identity.  If the Identity
      is unknown, this field should be zero bytes in length.  The field
      MUST NOT be null terminated.  The length of this field is derived
      from the Length field of the Request/Response packet and hence a
      null is not required.

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3.2.  Notification


      The Notification Type is optionally used to convey a displayable
      message from the authenticator to the peer.   The peer SHOULD
      display this message to the user or log it if it cannot be
      displayed.  It is intended to provide an acknowledged notification
      of some imperative nature.  Examples include a password with an
      expiration time that is about to expire, an OTP sequence integer
      which is nearing 0, an authentication failure warning, etc.   In
      most circumstances, notification should not be required.




      The Type-Data field in the Request contains a displayable message
      greater than zero octets in length.  The length of the message is
      determined by Length field of the Request packet.  The message
      MUST not be null terminated.  A Response MUST be sent in reply to
      the Request with a Type field of 2 (Notification).  The Type-Data
      field of the Response is zero octets in length.   The Response
      should be sent immediately (independent of how the message is
      displayed or logged).

3.3.  Nak


      The Nak Type is valid only in Response messages.  It is sent in
      reply to a Request where the desired authentication Type is
      unacceptable.   Authentication Types are numbered 4 and above.
      The Response contains the authentication Type desired by the peer.




      This field MUST contain a single octet indicating the desired
      authentication type.

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3.4.  MD5-Challenge


      The MD5-Challenge Type is analagous to the PPP CHAP protocol [3]
      (with MD5 as the specified algorithm).  The PPP Challenge
      Handshake Authentication Protocol RFC [3] should be referred to
      for further implementation specifics.  The Request contains a
      "challenge" message to the peer.  A Repsonse MUST be sent in reply
      to the Request.  The Response MAY be either of Type 4 (MD5-
      Challenge) or Type 3 (Nak).   The Nak reply indicates the peer's
      desired authentication mechanism Type.  All EAP implementations
      MUST support the MD5-Challenge mechanism.




      The contents of the Type-Data  field is summarized below.  For
      reference on the use of this fields see the PPP Challenge
      Handshake Authentication Protocol [3].

       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
      |  Value-Size   |  Value ...
      |  Name ...

3.5.  One-Time Password (OTP)


      The One-Time Password system is defined in "A One-Time Password
      System" [4].  The Request contains a displayable message
      containing an OTP challenge.  A Repsonse MUST be sent in reply to
      the Request.  The Response MUST be of Type 5 (OTP) or Type 3
      (Nak).  The Nak reply indicates the peer's desired authentication
      mechanism Type.



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      The Type-Data field contains the OTP "challenge" as a displayable
      message in the Request.  In the Response, this field is used for
      the 6 words from the OTP dictionary [4].  The messages MUST not be
      null terminated.  The length of the field is derived from the
      Length field of the Request/Reply packet.

3.6.  Generic Token Card


      The Generic Token Card Type is defined for use with various Token
      Card implementations which require user input.   The Request
      contains an ASCII text message and the Reply contains the Token
      Card information necessary for authentication.  Typically, this
      would be information read by a user from the Token card device and
      entered as ASCII text.




      The Type-Data field in the Request contains a displayable message
      greater than zero octets in length.  The length of the message is
      determined by Length field of the Request packet.  The message
      MUST not be null terminated.  A Response MUST be sent in reply to
      the Request with a Type field of 6 (Generic Token Card).  The
      Response contains data from the Token Card required for
      authentication.  The length is of the data is determined by the
      Length field of the Response packet.

Security Considerations

   Security issues are the primary topic of this RFC.

   The interaction of the authentication protocols within PPP are highly
   implementation dependent.

   For example, upon failure of authentication, some implementations do
   not terminate the link.  Instead, the implementation limits the kind
   of traffic in the Network-Layer Protocols to a filtered subset, which
   in turn allows the user opportunity to update secrets or send mail to
   the network administrator indicating a problem.

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   There is no provision for retries of failed authentication.  However,
   the LCP state machine can renegotiate the authentication protocol at
   any time, thus allowing a new attempt.  It is recommended that any
   counters used for authentication failure not be reset until after
   successful authentication, or subsequent termination of the failed

   There is no requirement that authentication be full duplex or that
   the same protocol be used in both directions.  It is perfectly
   acceptable for different protocols to be used in each direction.
   This will, of course, depend on the specific protocols negotiated.

   In practice, within or associated with each PPP server, it is not
   anticipated that a particular named user would be authenticated by
   multiple methods.  This would make the user vulnerable to attacks
   which negotiate the least secure method from among a set (such as PAP
   rather than EAP).  Instead, for each named user there should be an
   indication of exactly one method used to authenticate that user name.
   If a user needs to make use of different authentication methods under
   different circumstances, then distinct identities SHOULD be employed,
   each of which identifies exactly one authentication method.


   [1]   Simpson, W., "The Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP)", STD 51,
         RFC 1661, July 1994.

   [2]   Reynolds, J. and J. Postel, "Assigned Numbers", STD 2,
         RFC 1700, October 1994.

   [3]   Simpson, W., "PPP Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol
         (CHAP)", RFC 1994, August 1996.

   [4]   Haller, N. and C. Metz, "A One-Time Password System", RFC 1938,
         May 1996.

   [5]   Yergeau, F., "UTF-8, a transformation format of Unicode and ISO
         10646", RFC 2044, October 1996.

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

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   This protocol derives much of its inspiration from Dave Carrel's AHA
   draft as well as the PPP CHAP protocol [3].  Bill Simpson provided
   much of the boilerplate used throughout this document.   Al Rubens
   (Merit) also provided valuable feedback.

Chair's Address

   The working group can be contacted via the current chair:

   Karl F. Fox
   Ascend Communications, Inc.
   655 Metro Place South, Suite 370
   Dublin, Ohio  43017

   EMail: karl@ascend.com
   Phone: +1 614 760 4041
   Fax:   +1 614 760 4050

Authors' Addresses

   Larry J. Blunk
   Merit Network, Inc.
   4251 Plymouth Rd., Suite C
   Ann Arbor, MI  48105

   EMail: ljb@merit.edu
   Phone: 734-763-6056
   FAX:   734-647-3185

   John R. Vollbrecht
   Merit Network, Inc.
   4251 Plymouth Rd., Suite C
   Ann Arbor, MI  48105

   EMail: jrv@merit.edu
   Phone: +1-313-763-1206
   FAX: +1-734-647-3185

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Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998).  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

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