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README.md

Ukey2

This is not an officially supported Google product

Coathored by: Alexei Czeskis, Thai Duong, Eduardo' Vela'' <Nava>, and Adam Stubblefield.

Status: Implemented in Java (aczeskis@google.com)

Design reviewers: Thai Duong, Bruno Blanchet, Martin Abadi, and Bo Wang

Implementation reviewer: Thai Duong

Last Updated: roughly in September 2016

Overview

UKEY2 is a Diffie-Hellman based authenticated key exchange protocol.

At the end of a UKEY2 run, a client and server have a shared master secret that can be used to derive keys which can be used in a subsequent protocol. UKEY2 only implicitly guarantees that servers know that clients believe the protocol finished correctly; that is, until a server receives a message on the next protocol from the client it does not know that the handshake completed.

The intended usage of UKEY2 is to establish a secure channel between two user devices, e.g., laptop with Chromecast, phone with Google Glass, etc. The secure channel then can be used to transmit passwords or other credentials. It is especially useful when one wants to connect a brand new device to a password-protected WIFI network. UKEY2 is also usable over low-bandwidth transports like Bluetooth Low Energy (see Performance).

Message Framing

Each UKEY2 message is framed inside an outer protobuf message:

message Ukey2Message {
  enum Type {
    UNKNOWN_DO_NOT_USE = 0;
    ALERT = 1;
    CLIENT_INIT = 2;
    SERVER_INIT = 3;
    CLIENT_FINISH = 4;
  }

  optional Type message_type = 1;   // Identifies message type
  optional bytes message_data = 2;  // Actual message, to be parsed according to
                                    // message_type
}

Alerts

In case an error occurs, the client and server will reply with an Alert:

message Ukey2Alert {
  enum AlertType {
    // Framing errors
    BAD_MESSAGE = 1;             // The message could not be deserialized
    BAD_MESSAGE_TYPE = 2;        // message_type has an undefined value
    INCORRECT_MESSAGE = 3;       // message_type received does not correspond to expected
                                 // type at this stage of the protocol
    BAD_MESSAGE_DATA = 4;        // Could not deserialize message_data as per value in
                                 // message_type

    // ClientInit and ServerInit errors
    BAD_VERSION = 100;           // version is invalid; server cannot find suitable version
                                 // to speak with client.
    BAD_RANDOM = 101;            // Random data is missing or of incorrect length
    BAD_HANDSHAKE_CIPHER = 102;  // No suitable handshake ciphers were found
    BAD_NEXT_PROTOCOL = 103;     // The next protocol is missing, unknown, or unsupported
    BAD_PUBLIC_KEY = 104;        // The public key could not be parsed

    // Other errors
    INTERNAL_ERROR = 200;       // An internal error has occurred.  error_message may
                                // contain additional details for logging and debugging.
  }

  optional AlertType type = 1;
  optional string error_message = 2;
}

The type corresponds to the error that caused the Alert to be sent. Upon encountering an error, clients and servers send an Alert of the proper type and close the connection; all alerts are fatal. Upon receiving an Alert, clients and servers must close the connection, even if they cannot parse the Alert. The Alert message may contain an optional error_message string that may be used to describe error details for logging.

Handshake Ciphersuites

UKEY2 supports negotiation of the cryptographic primitives used in the handshake. Two primitives are required, a Diffie-Hellman function and a cryptographic hash function, which are represented by a single enum:

enum Ukey2HandshakeCipher {
  RESERVED = 0;
  P256_SHA512 = 100;        // NIST P-256 used for ECDH, SHA512 used for commitment
  CURVE25519_SHA512 = 200;  // Curve 25519 used for ECDH, SHA512 used for commitment
}

The implementations of all primitives must resist timing side-channel attacks. A summary of handshake ciphersuite negotiation is (see ClientInit and ServerInit messages for full details):

  • The client enumerates the primitives it supports and the server choose the highest (by enum value) cipher that it also supports.
  • The server replies with a public key using the chosen cipher and sends its own list of supported handshake cipher suites so that the client can verify that the right selection was made.

Handshake Details

The UKEY2 handshake consists of three messages. First, the client sends a ClientInit message to the server -- conceptually, this consists of a list of cipher suites and a commitment to an ephemeral public key for each suite. The server responds with a ServerInit -- conceptually, this is the server's chosen cipher suite and an ephemeral public key for the cipher suites selected by the server. Finally, the client responds with a ClientFinished -- conceptually, this consists of an ephemeral public key matching the cipher suite selected by the server.

After the handshake, both client and server derive authentication strings, which may be shown to users for visual comparison or sent over some other channel in order to authenticate the handshake. The client and server also derive session keys for the next protocol.

The ClientInit Message

The ClientInit message is defined as follows:

message Ukey2ClientInit {
  optional int32 version = 1;  // highest supported version for rollback protection
  optional bytes random = 2;   // random bytes for replay/reuse protection

  // One commitment (hash of ClientFinished containing public key) per supported cipher
  message CipherCommitment {
    optional Ukey2HandshakeCipher handshake_cipher = 1;
    optional bytes commitment = 2;
  }
  repeated CipherCommitment cipher_commitments = 3;

  // Next protocol that the client wants to speak.
  optional string next_protocol = 4;
}

The version field is the maximum version that the client supports. It should be 1 for now. The random field is exactly 32 cryptographically secure random bytes. The cipher_commitment field is a protobuf consisting of a handshake cipher and a commitment which is a hash of the ClientFinished message that would be sent if the cipher were selected (the serialized, including framing, raw bytes of the last handshake message sent by the client), calculated with the hash function and the Diffie-Hellman function from the handshake cipher. The client includes each commitment in the order of their preference. Note that only one commitment per handshake_cipher is allowed. The client also includes the next_protocol field that specifies that the client wants to use to speak to the server. Note that this protocol must implicitly imply a key length. UKEY2, however, does not provide a namespace for the next_protocol values in order to provide layers separation between the handshake and the next protocols.

Interpreting ClientInit

Upon receiving the ClientInit message, the server should:

  1. Deserialize the protobuf; send an Alert.BAD_MESSAGE message if deserialization fails.
  2. Verify that message_type == Type.CLIENT_INIT; send an Alert.BAD_MESSAGE_TYPE message if mismatch occurs.
  3. Deserialize message_data as a ClientInit message; send an Alert.BAD_MESSAGE_DATA message if deserialization fails.
  4. Check that version == 1; send Alert.BAD_VERSION message if mismatch.
  5. Check that random is exactly 32 bytes; send Alert.BAD_RANDOM message if not.
  6. Check to see if any of the handshake_cipher in cipher_commitment are acceptable. Servers should select the first handshake_cipher that it finds acceptable to support clients signaling deprecated but supported HandshakeCiphers. If no handshake_cipher is acceptable (or there are no HandshakeCiphers in the message), the server sends an Alert.BAD_HANDSHAKE_CIPHER message.
  7. Checks that next_protocol contains a protocol that the server supports. Send an Alert.BAD_NEXT_PROTOCOL message if not.

If no alerts have been sent, the server replies with the ServerInit message.

The ServerInit Message

The ServerInit message is as follows

message Ukey2ServerInit {
  optional int32 version = 1;  // highest supported version for rollback protection
  optional bytes random = 2;   // random bytes for replay/reuse protection

  // Selected Cipher and corresponding public key
  optional Ukey2HandshakeCipher handshake_cipher = 3;
  optional bytes public_key = 4;
}

For now, version must be 1. The random field is exactly 32 cryptographically secure random bytes. The handshake_cipher field contains the server-chosen HandshakeCipher. The public_key field contains the server-chosen corresponding public key.

Interpreting ServerInit

When a client receives a ServerInit after having sent a ClientInit, it performs the following actions:

  1. Deserialize the protobuf; send an Alert.BAD_MESSAGE message if deserialization fails.
  2. Verify that message_type == Type.SERVER_INIT; send an Alert.BAD_MESSAGE_TYPE message if mismatch occurs.
  3. Deserialize message_data as a ServerInit message; send an Alert.BAD_MESSAGE_DATA message if deserialization fails.
  4. Check that version == 1; send Alert.BAD_VERSION message if mismatch.
  5. Check that random is exactly 32 bytes; send Alert.BAD_RANDOM message if not.
  6. Check that handshake_cipher matches a handshake cipher that was sent in ClientInit.cipher_commitments. If not, send an Alert.BAD_HANDSHAKECIPHER message.
  7. Check that public_key parses into a correct public key structure. If not, send an Alert.BAD_PUBLIC_KEY message.

If no alerts have been sent, the client replies with the ClientFinished message. After sending the ClientFinished message, the Client considers the handshake complete.

IMPORTANT: The client should compute the authentication string AUTH_STRING and the next-protocol secret NEXT_SECRET (see below). The client should use an out-of-band channel to verify the authentication string before proceeding to the next protocol.

The ClientFinished Message

The ClientFinished message is as follows:

message Ukey2ClientFinished {
  optional bytes public_key = 1;  // public key matching selected handshake cipher
}

The public_key contains the Client's public key (whose commitment was sent in the ClientInit message) for the server-selected handshake cipher.

Interpreting ClientFinished

When a server receives a ClientFinished after having sent a ServerInit, it performs the following actions:

  1. Deserialize the protobuf; terminate the connection if deserialization fails.
  2. Verify that message_type == Type.CLIENT_FINISHED; terminate the connection if mismatch occurs.
  3. Verify that the hash of the ClientFinished matches the expected commitment for the chosen handshake_cipher from ClientInit. Terminate the connection if the expected match fails.
  4. Deserialize message_data as a ClientFinished message; terminate the connection if deserialization fails.
  5. Check that public_key parses into a correct public key structure. If not, terminate the connection.

Note that because the client is not expecting a response, any error results in connection termination.

After parsing the ClientFinished message, the Server considers the handshake complete.

IMPORTANT: The server should compute the authentication string AUTH_STRING and the next-protocol secret NEXT_SECRET (see below). The server should use an out-of-band channel to verify the authentication string before proceeding to the next protocol.

Deriving the Authentication String and the Next-Protocol Secret

Let DHS = the negotiated Diffie-Hellman key derived from the Client and Server public keys.

Let M_1 = the serialized (including framing) raw bytes of the first message sent by the client

Let M_2 = the serialized (including framing) raw bytes of the first message sent by the server

Let Hash = the hash from HandshakeCipher

Let L_auth = length of authentication string in bytes. Note that this length can be short (e.g., a 6 digit visual confirmation code).

Let L_next = length of next protocol key

Let HKDF-Extract and HKDF-Expand be as defined in RFC5869 instantiated with the hash from the HandshakeCipher.

Let PRK_AUTH = HKDF-Extract("UKEY2 v1 auth", DHS)

Let PRK_NEXT = HKDF-Extract("UKEY2 v1 next", DHS)

Then AUTH_STRING = HKDF-Expand(PRK_AUTH, M_1|M_2, L_auth)

Then NEXT_SECRET = HKDF-Expand(PRK_NEXT, M_1|M_2, L_next)

Security Discussion

If client and server authenticate one-another using the AUTH_STRING through an out-of-band mechanism, we believe that this handshake is resistant to an active man-in-the-middle attacker. The attacker, whether he/she plays the role of the client or server, is forced to commit to a public key before seeing the other-party's public key.

The authentication string and next secret are computed in such a way that knowledge of one does not allow an attacker to compute the other. That is, if the attacker observed the AUTH_STRING (if it was shown on a monitor for example), the attacker could not compute NEXT_SECRET. Furthermore, both the authentication string and next secret depend on the full handshake transcript -- a manipulation of any handshake message by an adversary would change both the authentication string and the next secret. Note that although the last message is not directly included in the HKDF computation, it is included as part of the commitment sent in M_1.

@shabsi pointed out that by having the HKDF info field have bits that also go into making the PRK, this violates some security proof. Those “shared” bits are the public keys that are sent in M_2 and M_3 and are also used to derive the DHS. Though the “proof” may not hold in theory, we do believe the security of the handshake is maintained in practice.

A natural question may be why we didn't use Short Authentication Strings (SAS). The answer is two-fold. First, traditional SAS does not incorporate a key exchange, only authentication; UKEY2 provides both. Second, the paper does not give concrete primitives, instead describing abstract functions such as commit()and open(). One concrete implementation of these functions would look similar to what UKEY2 does.

Bruno Blanchet performed a formal proof of a simplified version of UKEY2.

Performance

The messages are fairly compact. Running a test where the client sent a single commitment for a P256_SHA512 cipher and the next_protocol was set to "AES_256_CBC-HMAC_SHA256", the total size of the messages were:

MessageLength in Bytes
ClientInit136
ServerInit117
ClientFinished79