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APNIC Labs comments to the KSK rollover plan.

  • To: <comments-root-ksk-06aug15@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: APNIC Labs comments to the KSK rollover plan.
  • From: George Michaelson <ggm@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 1 Sep 2015 09:40:45 -0300

Firstly, APNIC Labs would like to commend all those involved in the
preparation of
this draft report for their careful consideration of this topic, and for
the clear and well informed presentation of material in the report. We also
appreciate the opportunity through this public comment process to review
this activity. In consideration of this document, we would like to make the
following comments:

1) Timing of the KSK roll.

   The report contains no substantial technical justification as to why a
   key roll must be performed at this point in time. Noting other concerns
   expressed below, principally the uncertainty surrounding RFC5011
   support, and also noting the lack of concrete measurement activities
   during the critical stages of key roll,and the lack of any feedback from
   measurement to inform whether to proceed with critical or irrevocable
   steps in the rollover (such as the switch from old to new signing key,
   and revocation of the old key) it is surprising that the only
   justification for performing a KSK roll at this point in time is
   essentially based on the observation that the Root Zone managers made a
   commitment in 2010 that they would do so.  The report clarifies that
   there is no evident loss of integrity in the current key pair, nor is
   this potential loss of key integrity anticipated to be an operational
   risk for some considerable time, according to the analysis in the
   report. This begs the question: “Why roll now?" The only justification
   provided in the report is a risk analysis table which notes a risk of
   loss of trust in process if a key roll is not performed. There are clear
   risks associated with performing the  key roll which are considered, but
   not quantified. If the key roll is delayed that there is the
   unquantified risk of loss of trust in key management process, but
   against that the delay allows additional time to mitigate the service
   disruption risks to some extent. It would be helpful if the report
   explored the consequences of deferring the key roll, including the
   issues of the potential for key compromise and the possibility of
   increased level of deployment of DNS resolver code that is aware of, and
   capable of following a key roll as signalled according to RFC 5011, as
   noted in the following comment.

2) RFC5011 Capability Signalling

   Although it is understood that no active signalling of RFC5011
   capability currently exists, it is possible that we could delay a
   planned KSK roll long enough to deploy DNS code changes that not only
   enable a greater proportion of resolvers to be able to track a key roll
   through RFC5011 signalling, but to signal their capability to do so.
   Measuring both the rate of deployment of this DNS signalling capability,
   and the proportion of clients using RFC5011 capable resolver services
   would materially inform this space. We would like to see the report
   consider such options as an alternative to an immediate action to roll
   the key.

3) Measurements and Reporting

   The report identifies two critical phases in the KSK rollover: The
   addition of new keys (increase in packet size), and the loss of the
   original key (potential loss of DNSSEC from failure to update the TA to
   the new keyset). However, the report carries only a weak reference to
   any measurements that may be conducted during these critical phases.
   This is insufficient in our view, and we would like to see the use of
   stronger language that requires the root zone management partners to
   facilitate various forms of active measurement through the  keyroll
   process, so that each stage can be understood for its actual damage
   consequences, to direct any reverse or delay decisions from the evidence

4) Algorithm Agility

   The report’s language around the potential for algorithm change is
   unclear. There appears to be a strong bias to retention of RSA as the
   KSK algorithm, despite evidence that ECDSA is both shorter and
   potentially faster to compute. Whilst the document argues for a reduced
   risk of large packets, it doesn’t clearly explain why larger RSA-based
   DNS response payloads would be preferable to smaller ECDSA DNS response

The report appears to assume certain immutable factors in the key roll
process, and we would like to understand why these are immutable. These

5) Scheduling and Operational Tasks

   The report notes as a constraint that a key roll must be aligned with
   existing Quarter and 10-day periods used in existing processes. This has
   the potential consequence of scheduling the critical change in the root
   zone on a weekend, or on a major public holiday. For a transition as
   critical as the roll of the root zone KSK it would be reasonable to see
   the report canvas options that would ensure that the critical transition
   events happen when there is a high likelihood of operational support
   infrastructure in place for users. This rigid adherence to a calendar
   irrespective of operational support considerations appears to be an
   inappropriate prioritisation of environmental considerations.

6) KSK-signed sentinels

   The report considers a staged deployment of the KSK roll, and dismisses
   this approach as being ineffectual in terms of mitigation of risks to
   DNS service. However the report does not consider using the incoming KSK
   in other ways. For example it could be envisaged that the roll process
   could use the incoming KSK to sign some sentinel record in the root
   zone, or even in a lower point in the DNS name hierarchy during the
   initial publication process, thereby allowing measurement of the extent
   to which resolvers are able to use the KSK as a trust anchor to validate
   the sentinel record. It would be helpful to understand why such
   potentially measurable actions were not included in the proposed key
   roll process.

7) Serialized Key Rolls

   Why is the process serialised to the introduction of a single candidate
   new key value? What are the issues involved in staging multiple incoming
   keys? Was this considered by the design team?

8) Key Overlap

   The envisaged process performs a state flip from using the old key to
   sign the ZSK and the new key to using the new key to sign the ZSK and
   removing the old key completely. Why is there not a period of overlap
   where the ZSK is signed by both the new and old KSKs, as is the case in
   a more conventional model of a key roll. Combined with some form of
   sentinel or staged deployment this would allow the key roll to follow a
   more conventional process of prime resolvers with an announcement of a
   new key, then introduce use, test and measure in parallel with the old
   key, then commit to the change by removing the old key. The process
   described in the document appears to simply shift from the announcement
   to the commitment.

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