[cabfpub] [EXTERNAL]Re: Ballot 190

Jos Purvis (jopurvis) jopurvis at cisco.com
Fri Apr 28 17:52:14 UTC 2017

A question, if I might: I’m not understanding the “massive revalidation of all existing domains” part here. My understanding is that if we alter the methods of validation, you would need to ensure that any applicants from that date forward are validated under acceptable methods, which may mean searching your database of validated domains and marking some as requiring revalidation, but that shouldn’t require you to immediately revalidate them unless they’re applying for a certificate…or should it?


That is, if I’ve previously validated “www.example.com” but using a now-unacceptable method, do I immediately need to revalidate “example.com” the day the ballot takes effect (and revoke its certs if the validation fails?), or do I merely need to ensure that when “[x].example.com” presents a new certificate application after the ballot takes effect, I re-validate them using acceptable methods?


As a follow-up, let’s assume that yes, I do need to immediately revalidate all domain information obtained using non-conforming methods, even without a new certificate request in hand. Even assuming that, I don’t have to re-validate anything that conformed prior to the ballot, right? So we’re talking about finding certificates that are currently valid but were validated using non-conforming methods, which should mean a search of issuance records to identify now-invalid information and either marking it for re-validation in the future or just biting the bullet and re-validating it right away.


Just trying to unpack the scope of the problem here a bit.



Jos Purvis (jopurvis at cisco.com)

.:|:.:|:. cisco systems  | Cryptographic Services

PGP: 0xFD802FEE07D19105  | +1 919.991.9114 (desk)



From: Public <public-bounces at cabforum.org> on behalf of Kirk Hall via Public <public at cabforum.org>
Reply-To: CA/Browser Forum Public Discussion List <public at cabforum.org>
Date: Friday, 28 April, 2017 at 12:37 
To: Peter Bowen <pzb at amzn.com>, CA/Browser Forum Public Discussion List <public at cabforum.org>
Cc: Kirk Hall <Kirk.Hall at entrustdatacard.com>
Subject: Re: [cabfpub] [EXTERNAL]Re: Ballot 190


Yes, that’s good information on possible exploits - thanks.  That’s why we worked so long on improving BR – as you may recall, I was deeply involved in that, and very supportive.


But I’d really like to know if there is evidence that cert “misissuance” occurred in the past because of these potential vulnerabilities.  Do you know if there is any data on that?  I think we would need more than one or two anecdotal (and maybe unconfirmable) stories to justify revetting of all outstanding domains by all CAs.  The improvements will be implemented over time, on a going-forward basis.


As Gerv said, there will be significant reluctance to change / improve validation methods in the future if it always requires massive revalidation of all existing domains, without a showing of actual past abuses and related security concerns.


From: Peter Bowen [mailto:pzb at amzn.com] 
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2017 9:31 AM
To: CA/Browser Forum Public Discussion List <public at cabforum.org>
Cc: Kirk Hall <Kirk.Hall at entrustdatacard.com>
Subject: [EXTERNAL]Re: [cabfpub] Ballot 190



On Apr 28, 2017, at 9:06 AM, Kirk Hall via Public <public at cabforum.org> wrote:


1.  It appears from various comments over time that your biggest concern about re-use of prior validation data relates to method – Agreed Upon Change to Website.  Old method 6 required “Having the Applicant demonstrate practical control over the FQDN by making an agreed-upon change to information found on an online Web page identified by a uniform resource identifier containing the FQDN”


New method 6 requires specified content be posted to a "/.well‐known/pki‐validation" directory, which no CA has ever done (because this path is brand new, and created for the updated version of this validation method).  So prohibiting reuse of data collected under old method 6 will necessarily require revalidation of ALL domains ever validated under old method 6.  As I indicated on the CABF teleconference yesterday, this will require some CAs (including Entrust) to manually review EVERY domain validation we have done to determine which used old method 6, versus other approved methods.  This would be a massive undertaking, and something CAs won’t want to do unless there is a demonstrated security need.


Can you share with us the facts, data, evidence, etc. that leads you to believe that the domain validations previously done under old method 6 pose a significant security threat to users?  Any statistics to back this up?  I’m not challenging you, I’m just asking you for data that supports what you want us to do.  We are not aware of any instance where we used old method 6 and later discovered that the domain should not have been authorized for the customer.




I did some research on this back when we were working on ballot 169.  See https://cabforum.org/pipermail/public/2016-April/007504.html and https://cabforum.org/pipermail/public/2016-April/007506.html


We know that all the following were valid under the old method 6:


- Allowing the certificate requester to specify the URI.  For example, if the certificate wanted shop.example.com, the requester could say “check at http://shop.example.com/tmp/uploads/foo.txt” for the agreed upon change


- Looking for the change anywhere in the page.  The CA would give the requester a token to put on the website and then look for it to appear somewhere on the page.  This is a huge problem for sites that have public comments, message boards, or user-editable content.  For example, validate “control” of www.ibm.com by posting a message containing the token at https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/community/forums/html/public


- Simply looking for the existence of a  file by name.  For example telling the customer to create http://<FQDN>/adfa24r43aefwaer2442.txt and not caring about the content.


- Looking for a content to be returned from the server that was included in the URL and not checking the HTTP return code.


I would also note that other “old” methods have similar issues.  For example, there was no requirement that email validation used a unique token per request.  It would have been valid to send an email saying “Does this email work?” to the domain owner and using an out-of-office auto-reply as proof of “communication”, as the requirement was only “Communicating with” the email address.


Does that help explain the concern?





From: Ryan Sleevi [mailto:sleevi at google.com] 

Sent: Friday, April 28, 2017 6:09 AM
To: Kirk Hall <Kirk.Hall at entrustdatacard.com>
Cc: CA/Browser Forum Public Discussion List <public at cabforum.org>; Wayne Thayer <wthayer at godaddy.com>
Subject: [EXTERNAL]Re: [cabfpub] Ballot 190




On Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 1:32 AM, Kirk Hall <Kirk.Hall at entrustdatacard.com> wrote:

One other comment.  Remember that for the last few months, new Methods 1-4 and 7-10 were actually included under Method 11 “any other method” after Ballot 181’s effective date, and that situation will continue until the effective date of Ballot 190.  Also, the same is true for any validations that followed old Method 7 “any other method” prior to the effective date of Ballot 169.  So be very careful in saying anything in Ballot 190 that would invalidate validations done prior to Ballot 190 under “any other method” so long as they complied with any of Methods 1-10 of the new methods or Methods 1-6 of the old methods.


I would be open to saying that any prior vetting done under old Method 7 or more recent Method 11 “any other method” must be revalidated upon the effective date of Ballot 190 IF they did not follow EITHER Methods 1-6 (as the existed before Ballot 169) or Methods 1-10 (as put forward in Ballot 169).  In other words, the ONLY validations that have to be redone before the expiration of the re-use period are validations that were done that did not comply with either old Methods 1-6 or new Methods 1-10.  That should flush out any unknown and unsecure validations that occurred in the past.


Not quite, because if you recall, Google's interest in reforming these began with the fact that a website demonstration of control was not secure. That is, under pre-169 is not acceptable.


Kirk, given your support for other forms of indicating that a CA has performed extra diligence, such as the inclusion of OV certificates, would you be supportive in general of a means of expressing, within a certificate, conformance with the 'new' validation methods, so that subscribers can have assurances of the security? 

Public mailing list
Public at cabforum.org


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