This specification provides documentation how Server Dialback is used together with Transport Layer Security, and discusses how the security considerations of Dialback are changed by the introduction of TLS and/or DNSSEC.
WARNING: This document has been automatically Deferred after 12 months of inactivity in its previous Experimental state. Implementation of the protocol described herein is not recommended for production systems. However, exploratory implementations are encouraged to resume the standards process.
Although Server Dialback (XEP-0220)  describes dialback as being run before any other negotiation, it is typically run over TLS where supported. This allows it to be used as a simple convenient fallback to X.509 Strong Authentication within the TLS layer, as described in RFC 6120 , and also affords greater protection to the exchange.
This document describes these practises, and also describes various functionally equivalent shortcuts to the protocol, including that known as "dialback without dialback".
This document will tell a tale of two servers; orchard.capulet.example is trying to contact home.montague.example. Each server operates a single domain; these are capulet.example and montague.example respectively.
If during the initial connection, home.montague.example is able to determine that the certificate presented is trustworthy, and authenticates orchard.capulet.example as authorized to offer the XMPP service for capulet.example, then the flow can be shortcutted heavily, allowing the entire Authoritative Server process to be elided.
This is particularly useful in cases where the dialback exchange is a subsequent exchange used in piggybacking, as it remains the only solution for piggybacking with strong authentication.
This traditional pattern involves the following protocol exchanges when dialback over TLS is used:
Note that having authenticated the certificate and found it authorized for capulet.example, montague.example has offered EXTERNAL above. It's not clear why capulet.example does not avail itself of the offer below; however it should be noted that EXTERNAL would not be available with piggybacking for example.
Critically, it is at this point that home.montague.example both authenticates and checks authorization on the certificate, or at least ensure that the certificate presented at this stage matches that presented at the initial handshake.
If during the initial connection, the Receiving Server is unable to determine that the certificate presented is trustworthy but the Authoritative Server presents the same certificate as the Originating Server, the <db:verify/> step can be elided.
Note: the Receiving Server MUST still check that the hostname in the certificate matches.
This pattern involves the following protocol exchanges:
The Receiving Server may need to establish a connection to the Authoritative Server at this point. Here we assume that this connection is using TLS and the certificate presented by the Authoritative Server is the same as the one used by the Originating Server and contains the domain name claimed by the Originating Server.
With respect to XEP-0220's security considerations, the adaptations in this document add at minimum channel encryption and integrity, which forces an attacker into making an active attack, rather than passive eavesdropping. This raises the cost of an attack significantly. However, unless the certificates are authenticated, there is still a man-in-the-middle attack possible, and the reliance on unauthenticated DNS remains problematic.
Use of the "Dialback without dialback" shortcut described in section 2.4 raises the level of authentication to that of the TLS/SASL-EXTERNAL process described in RFC 6120, and is thought to be indistinguishable from a security standpoint. As such, the security considerations relating to this in RFC 6120 et al apply.
Use of the "Same Certificate" shortcut described in section 2.6 is not thought to materially alter the security profile beyond that described above. In particular, it does not alter the level of trust an implementation may put in authentication.
If both SRV and A/AAAA records are protected by DNSSEC, this means that the correct address for the peer can be proven, removing DNS forgery as an attack vector. Without TLS, it is however still possible to mount an array of attacks, including IP spoofing and eavesdropping.
With TLS, however, the situation improves. Since TLS protects against a naïve IP spoofing attack, a routing protocol attack (such as BGP hijacking) is required to forge the server.
In addition, it is of critical importance to check the certificate at the time when the dialback result is received, and not only in the initial handshake. This protects against an attack based around renegotiation.
Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this specification (the "Specification"), to make use of the Specification without restriction, including without limitation the rights to implement the Specification in a software program, deploy the Specification in a network service, and copy, modify, merge, publish, translate, distribute, sublicense, or sell copies of the Specification, and to permit persons to whom the Specification is furnished to do so, subject to the condition that the foregoing copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Specification. Unless separate permission is granted, modified works that are redistributed shall not contain misleading information regarding the authors, title, number, or publisher of the Specification, and shall not claim endorsement of the modified works by the authors, any organization or project to which the authors belong, or the XMPP Standards Foundation.
Disclaimer of Warranty
## NOTE WELL: This Specification is provided on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, express or implied, including, without limitation, any warranties or conditions of TITLE, NON-INFRINGEMENT, MERCHANTABILITY, or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. ##
Limitation of Liability
In no event and under no legal theory, whether in tort (including negligence), contract, or otherwise, unless required by applicable law (such as deliberate and grossly negligent acts) or agreed to in writing, shall the XMPP Standards Foundation or any author of this Specification be liable for damages, including any direct, indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages of any character arising from, out of, or in connection with the Specification or the implementation, deployment, or other use of the Specification (including but not limited to damages for loss of goodwill, work stoppage, computer failure or malfunction, or any and all other commercial damages or losses), even if the XMPP Standards Foundation or such author has been advised of the possibility of such damages.
This XMPP Extension Protocol has been contributed in full conformance with the XSF's Intellectual Property Rights Policy (a copy of which can be found at <https://xmpp.org/about/xsf/ipr-policy> or obtained by writing to XMPP Standards Foundation, P.O. Box 787, Parker, CO 80134 USA).
The HTML representation (you are looking at) is maintained by the XSF. It is based on the YAML CSS Framework, which is licensed under the terms of the CC-BY-SA 2.0 license.
The Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) is defined in the XMPP Core (RFC 6120) and XMPP IM (RFC 6121) specifications contributed by the XMPP Standards Foundation to the Internet Standards Process, which is managed by the Internet Engineering Task Force in accordance with RFC 2026. Any protocol defined in this document has been developed outside the Internet Standards Process and is to be understood as an extension to XMPP rather than as an evolution, development, or modification of XMPP itself.
The following requirements keywords as used in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119: "MUST", "SHALL", "REQUIRED"; "MUST NOT", "SHALL NOT"; "SHOULD", "RECOMMENDED"; "SHOULD NOT", "NOT RECOMMENDED"; "MAY", "OPTIONAL".
4. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is the central coordinator for the assignment of unique parameter values for Internet protocols, such as port numbers and URI schemes. For further information, see <http://www.iana.org/>.