RFC 8145

Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)                        D. Wessels
Request for Comments: 8145                                      Verisign
Category: Standards Track                                      W. Kumari
ISSN: 2070-1721                                                   Google
                                                              P. Hoffman
                                                              April 2017

  Signaling Trust Anchor Knowledge in DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC)


   The DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) were developed to provide origin
   authentication and integrity protection for DNS data by using digital
   signatures.  These digital signatures can be verified by building a
   chain of trust starting from a trust anchor and proceeding down to a
   particular node in the DNS.  This document specifies two different
   ways for validating resolvers to signal to a server which keys are
   referenced in their chain of trust.  The data from such signaling
   allow zone administrators to monitor the progress of rollovers in a
   DNSSEC-signed zone.

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 7841.

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

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RFC 8145                DNSSEC Key Tag Signaling              April 2017

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2017 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 ....................................................3
      1.1. Design Evolution ...........................................4
   2. Requirements Terminology ........................................5
   3. Terminology .....................................................5
   4. Using the edns-key-tag Option ...................................5
      4.1. Option Format ..............................................5
      4.2. Use by Queriers ............................................6
           4.2.1. Stub Resolvers ......................................7
         Validating Stub Resolvers ..................7
         Non-validating Stub Resolvers ..............7
           4.2.2. Recursive Resolvers .................................7
         Validating Recursive Resolvers .............7
         Non-validating Recursive Resolvers .........8
      4.3. Use by Responders ..........................................8
   5. Using the Key Tag Query .........................................8
      5.1. Query Format ...............................................8
      5.2. Use by Queriers ............................................9
      5.3. Use by Responders ..........................................9
           5.3.1. Interaction with Aggressive Negative Caching ........9
   6. IANA Considerations ............................................10
   7. Security Considerations ........................................10
   8. Privacy Considerations .........................................11
   9. References .....................................................11
      9.1. Normative References ......................................11
      9.2. Informative References ....................................12
   Acknowledgments ...................................................13
   Authors' Addresses ................................................13

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1.  Introduction

   The DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) [RFC4033] [RFC4034] [RFC4035]
   were developed to provide origin authentication and integrity
   protection for DNS data by using digital signatures.  DNSSEC uses
   Key Tags to efficiently match signatures to the keys from which they
   are generated.  The Key Tag is a 16-bit value computed from the RDATA
   portion of a DNSKEY resource record (RR) using a formula not unlike a
   ones-complement checksum.  RRSIG RRs contain a Key Tag field whose
   value is equal to the Key Tag of the DNSKEY RR that validates the

   Likewise, Delegation Signer (DS) RRs also contain a Key Tag field
   whose value is equal to the Key Tag of the DNSKEY RR to which it

   This document specifies how validating resolvers can tell a server,
   in a DNS query, which DNSSEC key(s) they would use to validate the
   server's responses.  It describes two independent methods for
   conveying Key Tag information between clients and servers:

   1.  placing an EDNS option in the OPT RR [RFC6891] that contains the
       Key Tags (described in Section 4)

   2.  periodically sending special "Key Tag queries" to a server
       authoritative for the zone (described in Section 5)

   Each of these new signaling mechanisms is OPTIONAL to implement and
   use.  These mechanisms serve to measure the acceptance and use of new
   DNSSEC trust anchors and key signing keys (KSKs).  This signaling
   data can be used by zone administrators as a gauge to measure the
   successful deployment of new keys.  This is of particular interest
   for the DNS root zone in the event of key and/or algorithm rollovers
   that rely on [RFC5011] to automatically update a validating DNS
   resolver's trust anchor.

   This document does not introduce new processes for rolling keys or
   updating trust anchors.  Rather, it specifies a means by which a DNS
   query can signal the set of keys that a client uses for DNSSEC

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1.1.  Design Evolution

   Initially, when the work on this document started, it proposed
   including Key Tag values in a new EDNS(0) option code.  It was
   modeled after [RFC6975], which provides DNSSEC algorithm signaling.

   The authors received feedback from participants in the DNSOP Working
   Group that it might be better to convey Key Tags in the QNAME of a
   separate DNS query, rather than as an EDNS(0) option.  Mostly, this
   is because forwarding (e.g., from stub to recursive to authoritative)
   could be problematic.  Reasons include the following:

   1.  EDNS(0) is a hop-by-hop protocol.  Unknown option codes would not
       be forwarded by default, as per [RFC6891].

   2.  Middleboxes might block entire queries containing unknown EDNS(0)
       option codes.

   3.  A recursive resolver might need to remember Key Tag values (i.e.,
       keep state) received from its stub clients and then forward them
       at a later opportunity.

   One advantage of the EDNS(0) option code is that it is possible to
   see that a stub client has a different Key Tag list than its
   forwarder.  In the QNAME-based approach, this is not possible because
   queries originated by a stub and a forwarder are indistinguishable.
   The authors feel that this advantage is not sufficient to justify the
   EDNS(0) approach.

   One downside to the QNAME approach is that it uses a separate query,
   whereas with EDNS(0) the Key Tag values are "piggybacked" onto an
   existing DNSKEY query.  For this reason, this document recommends
   only sending QNAME-based Key Tag queries for trust anchors, although
   EDNS-based Key Tags can be sent with any DNSKEY query.

   Another downside to the QNAME-based approach is that since the
   trust anchor zone might not contain labels matching the QNAME, these
   queries could be subject to aggressive negative caching features now
   in development by the Working Group.  This could affect the amount of
   signaling sent by some clients compared to others.

   A probably minor downside to the QNAME-based approach is that it
   cannot be used with extremely long query names if the addition of the
   prefix would cause the name to be longer than 255 octets.

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2.  Requirements Terminology

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

3.  Terminology

   Trust Anchor:  A configured DNSKEY RR or DS RR hash of a DNSKEY RR.
      A validating security-aware resolver uses this public key or hash
      as a starting point for building the authentication chain to a
      signed DNS response.  In general, a validating resolver will have
      to obtain the initial values of its trust anchors via some secure
      or trusted means outside the DNS protocol.  Presence of a
      trust anchor also implies that the resolver should expect the zone
      to which the trust anchor points to be signed.  (This paragraph is
      quoted from Section 2 of [RFC4033].)

   Key Tag:  A 16-bit integer that identifies and enables efficient
      selection of DNSSEC public keys.  A Key Tag value can be computed
      over the RDATA of a DNSKEY RR.  The Key Tag field in the RRSIG and
      DS records can be used to help select the corresponding DNSKEY RR
      efficiently when more than one candidate DNSKEY RR is available.
      For most algorithms, the Key Tag is a simple 16-bit modular sum of
      the DNSKEY RDATA.  See [RFC4034], Appendix B.

4.  Using the edns-key-tag Option

4.1.  Option Format

   The edns-key-tag option is encoded as follows:

   0                       8                      16
   |                  OPTION-CODE                  |
   |                 OPTION-LENGTH                 |
   |                    KEY-TAG                    |
   |                      ...                      /

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   OPTION-CODE:  The EDNS0 option code assigned to edns-key-tag (14).

   OPTION-LENGTH:  The value 2 x number of key-tag values present.

   KEY-TAG:  One or more 16-bit Key Tag values ([RFC4034], Appendix B).

4.2.  Use by Queriers

   A validating resolver sets the edns-key-tag option in the OPT RR when
   sending a DNSKEY query.  The validating resolver SHOULD also set the
   DNSSEC OK bit (also known as the DO bit) [RFC4035] to indicate that
   it wishes to receive DNSSEC RRs in the response.

   A DNS client MUST NOT include the edns-key-tag option for non-DNSKEY

   The KEY-TAG value(s) included in the edns-key-tag option represents
   the Key Tag of the trust anchor or DNSKEY RR that will be used to
   validate the expected response.  When the client sends a DNSKEY
   query, the edns-key-tag option represents the Key Tag(s) of the
   KSK(s) of the zone for which the server is authoritative.  A
   validating resolver learns the Key Tag(s) of the KSK(s) from the
   zone's DS record(s) (found in the parent) or from a trust anchor.

   A DNS client SHOULD include the edns-key-tag option when issuing a
   DNSKEY query for a zone corresponding to a trust anchor.

   A DNS client MAY include the edns-key-tag option when issuing a
   DNSKEY query for a non-trust anchor zone (i.e., Key Tags learned via
   DS records).  Since some DNSSEC validators implement bottom-up
   validation, a non-trust anchor Key Tags zone might not be known at
   the time of the query.  Such a validator can include the edns-key-tag
   option based on previously cached data.

   A DNS client MUST NOT include Key Tag(s) for keys that are not
   learned via either a trust anchor or DS records.

   Since the edns-key-tag option is only set in the query, if a client
   sees these options in the response, no action needs to be taken and
   the client MUST ignore the option values.

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4.2.1.  Stub Resolvers

   Typically, stub resolvers rely on an upstream recursive resolver (or
   cache) to provide a response.  Optimal setting of the edns-key-tag
   option depends on whether the stub resolver elects to perform its own
   validation.  Validating Stub Resolvers

   A validating stub resolver sets the DNSSEC OK bit [RFC4035] to
   indicate that it wishes to receive additional DNSSEC RRs (i.e., RRSIG
   RRs) in the response.  Such validating resolvers SHOULD include the
   edns-key-tag option in the OPT RR when sending a DNSKEY query.  Non-validating Stub Resolvers

   The edns-key-tag option MUST NOT be included by non-validating stub

4.2.2.  Recursive Resolvers  Validating Recursive Resolvers

   A validating recursive resolver is, by definition, configured with at
   least one trust anchor.  Thus, a recursive resolver SHOULD include
   the edns-key-tag option in its DNSKEY queries as described above.

   In addition, the clients of a validating recursive resolver might be
   configured to do their own validation, with their own
   trust anchor(s).  When a validating recursive resolver receives a
   query that includes the edns-key-tag option with a Key Tag list that
   differs from its own, it SHOULD forward both the client's Key Tag
   list and its own list.  When doing so, the recursive resolver SHOULD
   transmit the two Key Tag lists using separate instances of the
   edns-key-tag option code in the OPT RR.  For example, if the
   recursive resolver's Key Tag list is (19036, 12345) and the
   stub/client's list is (19036, 34567), the recursive resolver
   would include the edns-key-tag option twice: once with values
   (19036, 12345) and once with values (19036, 34567).

   A validating recursive resolver MAY combine stub/client Key Tag
   values from multiple incoming queries into a single outgoing query.
   It is RECOMMENDED that implementations place reasonable limits on the
   number of Key Tags to include in the outgoing edns-key-tag option.

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   If the client included the DNSSEC OK and Checking Disabled (CD) bits
   but did not include the edns-key-tag option in the query, the
   validating recursive resolver MAY include the option with its own
   Key Tag values in full.

   Validating recursive resolvers MUST NOT set the edns-key-tag option
   in the final response to the stub client.  Non-validating Recursive Resolvers

   Recursive resolvers that do not validate responses SHOULD copy the
   edns-key-tag option seen in received queries, as they represent the
   wishes of the validating downstream resolver that issued the original

4.3.  Use by Responders

   An authoritative name server receiving queries with the edns-key-tag
   option MAY log or otherwise collect the Key Tag values to provide
   information to the zone operator.

   A responder MUST NOT include the edns-key-tag option in any DNS

5.  Using the Key Tag Query

5.1.  Query Format

   A Key Tag query consists of a standard DNS query of type NULL and of
   class IN [RFC1035].

   The first component of the query name is the string "_ta-" followed
   by a sorted, hyphen-separated list of hexadecimal-encoded Key Tag
   values.  The zone name corresponding to the trust anchor is appended
   to this first component.

   For example, a validating DNS resolver that has a single root zone
   trust anchor with Key Tag 17476 (decimal) would originate a query of
   the form QTYPE=NULL, QCLASS=IN, QNAME=_ta-4444.

   Hexadecimal values MUST be zero-padded to four hexadecimal digits.
   For example, if the Key Tag is 999 (decimal), it is represented in
   hexadecimal as 03e7.

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   When representing multiple Key Tag values, they MUST be sorted in
   order from smallest to largest.  For example, a validating DNS
   resolver that has three trust anchors for the example.com zone with
   Key Tags 1589, 43547, 31406 (decimal) would originate a query of the
   form QTYPE=NULL, QCLASS=IN, QNAME=_ta-0635-7aae-aa1b.example.com.

5.2.  Use by Queriers

   A validating DNS resolver (stub or recursive) SHOULD originate a
   Key Tag query whenever it also originates a DNSKEY query for a
   trust anchor zone.  In other words, the need to issue a DNSKEY query
   is also the trigger to issue a Key Tag query.

   The value(s) included in the Key Tag query represents the Key Tag(s)
   of the trust anchor that will be used to validate the expected DNSKEY

   A validating DNS resolver SHOULD NOT originate Key Tag queries when
   also originating DNSKEY queries for non-trust anchor zones.

   A non-validating DNS resolver MUST NOT originate Key Tag queries.

   DNS resolvers with caches SHOULD cache and reuse the response to a
   Key Tag query just as it would any other response.

5.3.  Use by Responders

   An authoritative name server receiving Key Tag queries MAY log or
   otherwise collect the Key Tag values to provide information to the
   zone operator.

   An authoritative name server MUST generate an appropriate response to
   the Key Tag query.  A server does not need to have built-in logic
   that determines the response to Key Tag queries: the response code is
   determined by whether the data is in the zone file or covered by
   wildcards.  The zone operator might want to add specific Key Tag
   records to its zone, perhaps with specific TTLs, to affect the
   frequency of Key Tag queries from clients.

5.3.1.  Interaction with Aggressive Negative Caching

   Aggressive NSEC/NSEC3 negative caching [NSEC-NSEC3-Usage] may also
   affect the quality of Key Tag signaling.  When the response code for
   a Key Tag query is NXDOMAIN, DNS resolvers that implement aggressive
   negative caching will send fewer Key Tag queries than resolvers that
   do not implement it.

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   For this reason, zone operators might choose to create records
   corresponding to expected Key Tag queries.  During a rollover from
   Key Tag 1111 (hex) to Key Tag 2222 (hex), the zone could include the
   following records:

   _ta-1111        IN   NULL   \# 0
   _ta-2222        IN   NULL   \# 0
   _ta-1111-2222   IN   NULL   \# 0

   Recall that when multiple Key Tags are present, the originating
   client MUST sort them from smallest to largest in the query name.

6.  IANA Considerations

   IANA has assigned an EDNS0 option code for the edns-key-tag option in
   the "DNS EDNS0 Option Codes (OPT)" registry as follows:

              | Value | Name         | Status   | Reference |
              | 14    | edns-key-tag | Optional | RFC 8145  |

7.  Security Considerations

   This document specifies two ways for a client to signal its
   trust anchor knowledge to a cache or server.  The goal of these
   optional mechanisms is to signal new trust anchor uptake in clients
   to allow zone administrators to know when it is possible to complete
   a key rollover in a DNSSEC-signed zone.

   There is a possibility that an eavesdropper or server could infer the
   validator in use by a client by the Key Tag list seen.  This may
   allow an attacker to find validators using old, possibly broken,
   keys.  It could also be used to identify the validator or to narrow
   down the possible validator implementations in use by a client; the
   validator used by the client could have a known vulnerability that
   could be exploited by the attacker.

   Consumers of data collected from the mechanisms described in this
   document are advised that provided Key Tag values might be "made up"
   by some DNS clients with malicious, or at least mischievous,
   intentions.  For example, an attacker with sufficient resources might
   try to generate large numbers of queries including only old Key Tag
   values, with the intention of delaying the completion of a key

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   DNSSEC does not require keys in a zone to have unique Key Tags.
   During a rollover, there is a small possibility that an old key and a
   new key will have identical Key Tag values.  Zone operators relying
   on the edns-key-tag mechanism SHOULD take care to ensure that new
   keys have unique Key Tag values.

8.  Privacy Considerations

   This proposal provides additional, optional "signaling" to DNS
   queries in the form of Key Tag values.  While Key Tag values
   themselves are not considered private information, it may be possible
   for an eavesdropper to use Key Tag values as a fingerprinting
   technique to identify particular validating DNS clients.  This may be
   especially true if the validator is configured with trust anchors for
   zones in addition to the root zone.

   A validating resolver need not transmit the Key Tags in every
   applicable query.  Due to privacy concerns, such a resolver MAY
   choose to transmit the Key Tags for a subset of queries (e.g., every
   25th time) or by random chance with a certain probability (e.g., 5%).

   Implementations of this specification MAY be administratively
   configured to only transmit the Key Tags for certain zones.  For
   example, the software's configuration file may specify a list of
   zones for which the use of the mechanisms described here is allowed
   or denied.  Since the primary motivation for this specification is to
   provide operational measurement data for root zone key rollovers, it
   is RECOMMENDED that implementations at least include the edns-key-tag
   option for root zone DNSKEY queries.

9.  References

9.1.  Normative References

   [RFC1035]  Mockapetris, P., "Domain names - implementation and
              specification", STD 13, RFC 1035, DOI 10.17487/RFC1035,
              November 1987, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc1035>.

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,

   [RFC4033]  Arends, R., Austein, R., Larson, M., Massey, D., and S.
              Rose, "DNS Security Introduction and Requirements",
              RFC 4033, DOI 10.17487/RFC4033, March 2005,

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RFC 8145                DNSSEC Key Tag Signaling              April 2017

   [RFC4034]  Arends, R., Austein, R., Larson, M., Massey, D., and S.
              Rose, "Resource Records for the DNS Security Extensions",
              RFC 4034, DOI 10.17487/RFC4034, March 2005,

   [RFC4035]  Arends, R., Austein, R., Larson, M., Massey, D., and S.
              Rose, "Protocol Modifications for the DNS Security
              Extensions", RFC 4035, DOI 10.17487/RFC4035, March 2005,

   [RFC6891]  Damas, J., Graff, M., and P. Vixie, "Extension Mechanisms
              for DNS (EDNS(0))", STD 75, RFC 6891,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC6891, April 2013,

9.2.  Informative References

              Fujiwara, K., Kato, A., and W. Kumari, "Aggressive use of
              DNSSEC-validated Cache", Work in Progress,
              draft-ietf-dnsop-nsec-aggressiveuse-09, March 2017.

   [RFC5011]  StJohns, M., "Automated Updates of DNS Security (DNSSEC)
              Trust Anchors", STD 74, RFC 5011, DOI 10.17487/RFC5011,
              September 2007, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc5011>.

   [RFC6975]  Crocker, S. and S. Rose, "Signaling Cryptographic
              Algorithm Understanding in DNS Security Extensions
              (DNSSEC)", RFC 6975, DOI 10.17487/RFC6975, July 2013,

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   This document was inspired by and borrows heavily from [RFC6975] by
   Scott Rose and Steve Crocker.  The authors would like to thank Mark
   Andrews, Casey Deccio, Burt Kalisky, Bob Harold, Edward Lewis, Tim
   Wicinski, Suzanne Woolf, and other members of the DNSOP Working Group
   for their input.

Authors' Addresses

   Duane Wessels
   12061 Bluemont Way
   Reston, VA  20190
   United States of America

   Phone: +1 703 948-3200
   Email: dwessels@verisign.com
   URI:   http://verisigninc.com

   Warren Kumari
   1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
   Mountain View, CA  94043
   United States of America

   Email: warren@kumari.net

   Paul Hoffman

   Email: paul.hoffman@icann.org

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