shithub: plan9front

ref: e72da62915b09d5673b0c0179ba8dfe045aeb8c3
dir: /sys/doc/

View raw version
.HTML "Security in Plan 9
.de SS
.NH 2
delim $#
Security in Plan 9
Russ Cox, MIT LCS
Eric Grosse, Bell Labs
Rob Pike, Bell Labs
Dave Presotto, Avaya Labs and Bell Labs
Sean Quinlan, Bell Labs
.CW {rsc,ehg,rob,presotto,seanq}
The security architecture of the Plan 9™
operating system has recently been redesigned
to address some technical shortcomings.
This redesign provided an opportunity also to make the system more
convenient to use securely.
Plan 9 has thus improved in two ways not usually seen together:
it has become more secure
.I and
easier to use.
The central component of the new architecture is a per-user
self-contained agent called
.CW factotum .
.CW Factotum
securely holds a
copy of the user's keys and negotiates authentication protocols, on
behalf of the user, with secure services around the network.
Concentrating security code in a single program offers several
advantages including: ease of update or repair to broken security
software and protocols; the ability to run secure services at a lower
privilege level; uniform management of keys for all services; and an
opportunity to provide single sign on, even to unchanged legacy
.CW  Factotum
has an unusual architecture: it is implemented
as a Plan 9 file server.
Appeared, in a slightly different form, in
Proc. of the 2002 Usenix Security Symposium,
San Francisco.
.NH 1
Secure computing systems face two challenges:
first, they must employ sophisticated technology that is difficult to design
and prove correct; and second,
they must be easy for regular people to use.
The question of ease of use is sometimes neglected, but it is essential:
weak but easy-to-use security can be more effective than strong but
difficult-to-use security if it is more likely to be used.
People lock their front doors when they leave the house, knowing
full well that a burglar is capable of picking the lock (or avoiding
the door altogether); yet few would accept the cost and
awkwardness of a bank vault door on the
house even though that might reduce the probability of a robbery.
A related point is that users need a clear model of how the security
operates (if not how it actually provides security) in order to use it
well; for example, the clarity of a lock icon on a web browser
is offset by the confusing and typically insecure
steps for installing X.509 certificates.
The security architecture of the Plan 9
operating system
has recently been redesigned to make it both more secure
and easier to use.
.I security
we mean three things:
first, the business of authenticating users and services;
second, the safe handling, deployment, and use of keys
and other secret information; and
third, the use of encryption and integrity checks
to safeguard communications
from prying eyes.
The old security architecture of Plan 9
had several engineering problems in common with other operating systems.
First, it had an inadequate notion of security domain.
Once a user provided a password to connect to a local file store,
the system required that the same password be used to access all the other file
That is, the system treated all network services as
belonging to the same security domain. 
Second, the algorithms and protocols used in authentication,
by nature tricky and difficult to get right, were compiled into the
various applications, kernel modules, and file servers.
Changes and fixes to a security protocol
required that all components using that protocol needed to be recompiled,
or at least relinked, and restarted.
Third, the file transport protocol, 9P
that forms the core of
the Plan 9 system, had its authentication protocol embedded in its design.
This meant that fixing or changing the authentication used by 9P
required deep changes to the system.
If someone were to find a way to break the protocol, the system would
be wide open and very hard to fix.
These and a number of lesser problems, combined with a desire
for more widespread use of encryption in the system, spurred us to
rethink the entire security architecture of Plan 9.
The centerpiece of the new architecture is an agent,
.CW factotum ,
that handles the user's keys and negotiates all security
interactions with system services and applications.
Like a trusted assistant with a copy of the owner's keys,
.CW factotum
does all the negotiation for security and authentication.
Programs no longer need to be compiled with cryptographic
code; instead they communicate with
.CW factotum
that represent distinct entities in the cryptographic exchange,
such as a user and server of a secure service.
If a security protocol needs to be added, deleted, or modified,
.CW factotum
needs to be updated for all system services
to be kept secure.
Building on
.CW factotum ,
we modified
secure services in the system to move
user authentication code into
.CW factotum ;
made authentication a separable component of the file server protocol;
deployed new security protocols;
designed a secure file store,
.CW secstore ,
to protect our keys but make them easy to get when they are needed;
designed a new kernel module to support transparent use of 
Transport Layer Security (TLS)
and began using encryption for all communications within the system.
The overall architecture is illustrated in Figure 1a.
.if h .B1 10 60
gsize 9
.PS 3i

# Secstore
Sec:  box "Secstore" wid 1.3i ht .5i

# Terminal
Term0: box invis ht .1i with .e at Sec.e + (-1.1i, -.5i)
Term:  box wid 1.1i ht 1i with .nw at
Termlab: "\s-2Terminal\s+2" at Term.s + (0, -.15i)
FT: ellipse "$ F sub  T#" wid .40i ht .30i with .ne at + (-.1i, -.1i)
PT: ellipse "$ P sub  T#" wid .6i ht .45i with .sw at Term.sw + (.2i, .2i)

Cpu0: box invis ht .1i with .w at Term0.w + (3i, 0)
Cpu:  box wid 1.1i ht 1i with .nw at
Cpulab: "\s-2CPU Server\s+2" at Cpu.s + (0, -.15i)
FC: ellipse "$ F sub  C#" wid .40 ht .30i with .nw at Cpu.nw + (.1i, -.1i)
PC: ellipse "$ P sub  C#" wid .6i ht .45i with .se at + (-.2i, .2i)

# Authentication Server
Auth:  box dashed "Auth Server" wid 1.3i ht .5i with .e at Sec.e + (0, -2.3i)

# File Server
File0: box invis ht .1i with .w at Cpu0.w + (0, -1.5i)
File:  box wid 1.1i ht 1i with .nw at
Filelab: "\s-2File Server\s+2" at File.s + (0, -.15i)
FF: ellipse "$ F sub  F#" wid .40i ht .30i with .nw at File.nw + (.1i, -.1i)
PF: ellipse "$ P sub  F#" wid .6i ht .45i with .se at + (-.2i, .2i)

# Connections
line from PT.e + (0, +0.05i) to PC.w  + (0, +0.05i)
spline from PT.e + (0, -0.05i) right 1i then down 1.5i right .5i then right to PF.w + (0, -0.05i)
spline from PC.w + (0, -0.05i) left 1.1i then down 1.4i then right to PF.w + (0, 0.05i)
line <-> from to PC.nw
line <-> from FT.sw to
line <-> from to PF.nw
spline <-> from Sec.e right .5i then down .655i then left to FT.e
#spline from Auth.e + (0, 0.05i) right .5i then up 1i then to
#spline from Auth.e + (0, 0.00i) right .7i then up 1i then to FC.sw
#spline from Auth.e + (0, -0.05i) right .5i then to FF.w
.ps 9
.vs 10
Figure 1a.  Components of the security architecture.
Each box is a (typically) separate machine; each ellipse a process.
The ellipses labeled $F sub X#
.CW factotum
processes; those labeled
$P sub X#
are the pieces and proxies of a distributed program.
The authentication server is one of several repositories for users' security information
.CW factotum
processes consult as required.
.CW Secstore
is a shared resource for storing private information such as keys;
.CW factotum
consults it for the user during bootstrap.
.if h .B2
gsize 11
Secure protocols and algorithms are well understood
and are usually not the weakest link in a system's security.
In practice, most security problems arise from buggy servers,
confusing software, or administrative oversights.
It is these practical problems that we are addressing.
Although this paper describes the algorithms and protocols we are using,
they are included mainly for concreteness.
Our main intent is to present a simple security architecture built
upon a small trusted code base that is easy to verify (whether by manual or
automatic means), easy to understand, and easy to use.
Although it is a subjective assessment,
we believe we have achieved our goal of ease of use.
That we have achieved
our goal of improved security is supported by our plan to
move our currently private computing environment onto the Internet
outside the corporate firewall.
The rest of this paper explains the architecture and how it is used,
to explain why a system that is easy to use securely is also safe
enough to run in the open network.
.NH 1
An Agent for Security
One of the primary reasons for the redesign of the Plan 9
security infrastructure was to remove the authentication
method both from the applications and from the kernel.
Cryptographic code
is large and intricate, so it should
be packaged as a separate component that can be repaired or
modified without altering or even relinking applications
and services that depend on it.
If a security protocol is broken, it should be trivial to repair,
disable, or replace it on the fly.
Similarly, it should be possible for multiple programs to use
a common security protocol without embedding it in each program.
Some systems use dynamically linked libraries (DLLs) to address these configuration issues.
The problem with this approach is that it leaves
security code in the same address space as the program using it.
The interactions between the program and the DLL
can therefore accidentally or deliberately violate the interface,
weakening security.
Also, a program using a library to implement secure services
must run at a privilege level necessary to provide the service;
separating the security to a different program makes it possible
to run the services at a weaker privilege level, isolating the
privileged code to a single, more trustworthy component.
Following the lead of the SSH agent
we give each user
an agent process responsible
for holding and using the user's keys.
The agent program is called
.CW factotum
because of its similarity to the proverbial servant with the
power to act on behalf of his master because he holds the
keys to all the master's possessions.  It is essential that
.CW factotum
keep the keys secret and use them only in the owner's interest.
Later we'll discuss some changes to the kernel to reduce the possibility of
.CW factotum
leaking information inadvertently.
.CW Factotum
is implemented, like most Plan 9 services, as a file server.
It is conventionally mounted upon the directory
.CW /mnt/factotum ,
and the files it serves there are analogous to virtual devices that provide access to,
and control of, the services of the
.CW factotum .
The next few sections describe the design of
.CW factotum
and how it operates with the other pieces of Plan 9 to provide
security services.
Logging in
To make the discussions that follow more concrete,
we begin with a couple of examples showing how the
Plan 9 security architecture appears to the user.
These examples both involve a user
.CW gre
logging in after booting a local machine.
The user may or may not have a secure store in which
all his keys are kept.
If he does,
.CW factotum
will prompt him for the password to the secure store
and obtain keys from it, prompting only when a key
isn't found in the store.
.CW factotum
must prompt for each key.
In the typescripts, \f6\s9\en\s0\fP
represents a literal newline
character typed to force a default response.
User input is in italics, and
long lines are folded and indented to fit.
This first example shows a user logging in without
help from the secure store.
.CW factotum
prompts for a user name that the local kernel
will use:
user[none]: \f6\s9gre\s0\fP
(Default responses appear in square brackets.)
The kernel then starts accessing local resources
and requests, through
.CW factotum ,
a user/password pair to do so:
!Adding key:
user[gre]: \f6\s9\en\s0\fP
password: \f6****\fP
Now the user is logged in to the local system, and
the mail client starts up:
!Adding key: proto=apop
user[gre]: \f6\s9\en\s0\fP
password: \f6****\fP
.CW Factotum
is doing all the prompting and the applications
being started are not even touching the keys.
Note that it's always clear which key is being requested.
Now consider the same login sequence, but in the case where
.CW gre
has a secure store account:
user[none]: \f6\s9gre\s0\fP
secstore password: \f6*********\fP
STA PIN+SecurID: \f6*********\fP
That's the last
.CW gre
will hear from
.CW factotum
unless an attempt is made to contact
a system for which no key is kept in the secure store.
The factotum
Each computer running Plan 9 has one user id that owns all the
resources on that system \(em the scheduler, local disks,
network interfaces, etc.
That user, the
.I "host owner" ,
is the closest analogue in Plan 9 to a Unix
.CW root
account (although it is far weaker;
rather than having special powers, as its name implies the host owner
is just a regular user that happens to own the
resources of the local machine).
On a single-user system, which we call a terminal,
the host owner is the id of the terminal's user.
Shared servers such as CPU servers normally have a pseudo-user
that initially owns all resources.
At boot time, the Plan 9 kernel starts a
.CW factotum
executing as, and therefore with the privileges of,
the host owner.
New processes run as
the same user as the process which created them.
When a process must take on the identity of a new user,
such as to provide a login shell
on a shared CPU server,
it does so by proving to the host owner's
.CW factotum
that it is
authorized to do so.
This is done by running an
authentication protocol with
.CW factotum
prove that the process has access to secret information
which only the new user should possess.
For example, consider the setup in Figure 1a.
If a user on the terminal
wants to log in to the CPU server using the
Plan 9
.CW cpu
$P sub T#
might be the
.CW cpu
client program and
$P sub C#
.CW cpu
Neither $P sub C# nor $P sub T#
knows the details of the authentication.
do need to be able to shuttle messages back and
forth between the two
.CW factotums ,
but this is
a generic function easily performed without
knowing, or being able to extract, secrets in
the messages.
$P sub T#
will make a network connection to $P sub C#.
$P sub T#
$P sub C#
will then relay messages between
.CW factotum
owned by the user, $F sub T#,
and the one owned by the CPU server, $F sub C#,
until mutual authentication has been established.
sections describe the RPC between
.CW factotum
applications and the library functions to support proxy operations.
The kernel always uses a single local instance of
.CW factotum ,
running as the
host owner, for
its authentication purposes, but
a regular user may start other
.CW factotum
In fact, the
.CW factotum
representing the user need not be
running on the same machine as its client.
For instance, it is easy for a user on a CPU server,
through standard Plan 9 operations,
to replace the
.CW /mnt/factotum
in the user's private file name space on the server
with a connection to the
.CW factotum
running on the terminal.
(The usual file system permissions prevent interlopers
from doing so maliciously.)
This permits secure operations on the CPU server to be
transparently validated by the user's own
.CW factotum ,
secrets need never leave the user's terminal.
The SSH agent
does much the
same with special SSH protocol messages, but
an advantage to making our agent a file system
is that we need no new mechanism to access our remote
agent; remote file access is sufficient.
.CW factotum ,
each protocol is implemented as a state
machine with a generic interface, so protocols are in
essence pluggable modules, easy to add, modify, or drop.
Writing a message to and reading a message from
.CW factotum
each require a separate RPC and result in
a single state transition.
.CW factotum
always runs to completion on every RPC and never blocks
waiting for input during any authentication.
Moreover, the number of simultaneous
authentications is limited only by the amount of memory we're
willing to dedicate to representing the state machines.
Authentication protocols are implemented only
.CW factotum ,
but adding and removing
protocols does require relinking the binary, so
.CW factotum
processes (but no others)
need to be restarted in order to take advantage of
new or repaired protocols.
At the time of writing, 
.CW factotum
contains authentication
modules for the Plan 9 shared key protocol (p9sk1),
SSH's RSA authentication, passwords in the clear, APOP, CRAM, PPP's CHAP,
Microsoft PPP's MSCHAP, and VNC's challenge/response.
Local capabilities
A capability system, managed by the kernel, is used to empower
.CW factotum
to grant permission to another process to change its user id.
kernel device driver
implements two files,
.CW /dev/caphash
.CW /dev/capuse .
The write-only file
.CW /dev/caphash
can be opened only by the host owner, and only once.
.CW Factotum
opens this file immediately after booting.
To use the files,
.CW factotum
creates a string of the form
.I userid1\f(CW@\fPuserid2\f(CW@\fPrandom-string ,
uses SHA1 HMAC to hash
.I userid1\f(CW@\fPuserid2
with key
.I random-string ,
and writes that hash to
.CW /dev/caphash .
.CW Factotum
then passes the original string to another
process on the same machine, running
as user
.I userid1 ,
writes the string to
.CW /dev/capuse .
The kernel hashes the string and looks for
a matching hash in its list.
If it finds one,
the writing process's user id changes from
.I userid1
.I userid2 .
Once used, or if a timeout expires,
the capability is discarded by the kernel.
The capabilities are local to the machine on which they are created.
Hence a
.CW factotum
running on one machine cannot pass capabilities
to processes on another and expect them to work.
We define the word
.I key
to mean not only a secret, but also a description of the
context in which that secret is to be used: the protocol,
server, user, etc. to which it applies.
That is,
a key is a combination of secret and descriptive information
used to authenticate the identities of parties
transmitting or receiving information.
The set of keys used
in any authentication depends both on the protocol and on
parameters passed by the program requesting the authentication.
Taking a tip from SDSI
which represents security information as textual S-expressions,
keys in Plan 9 are represented as plain UTF-8 text.
Text is easily
understood and manipulated by users.
By contrast,
a binary or other cryptic format
can actually reduce overall security.
Binary formats are difficult for users to examine and can only be
cracked by special tools, themselves poorly understood by most users.
For example, very few people know or understand what's inside
their X.509 certificates.
Most don't even know where in the system to
find them.
Therefore, they have no idea what they are trusting, and why, and
are powerless to change their trust relationships.
Textual, centrally stored and managed keys are easier to use and safer.
Plan 9 has historically represented databases as attribute/value pairs,
since they are a good foundation for selection and projection operations.
.CW Factotum
therefore represents
the keys in the format
.I attribute\f(CW=\fPvalue ,
.I attribute
is an identifier, possibly with a single-character prefix, and
.I value
is an arbitrary quoted string.
The pairs themselves are separated by white space.
For example, a Plan 9 key and an APOP key
might be represented like this:
.P1 proto=p9sk1 user=gre
	!password='don''t tell'
proto=apop user=gre
	!password='open sesame'
If a value is empty or contains white space or single quotes, it must be quoted;
quotes are represented by doubled single quotes.
Attributes that begin with an exclamation mark
.CW ! ) (
are considered
.I secret .
.CW Factotum
will never let a secret value escape its address space
and will suppress keyboard echo when asking the user to type one.
A program requesting authentication selects a key
by providing a
.I query ,
a list of elements to be matched by the key.
Each element in the list is either an
.I attribute\f(CW=\fPvalue
pair, which is satisfied by keys with
exactly that pair;
or an attribute followed by a question mark,
.I attribute\f(CW? ,
which is satisfied by keys with some pair specifying
the attribute.
A key matches a query if every element in the list
is satisfied.
For instance, to select the APOP key in the previous example,
an APOP client process might specify the query
.P1 proto=apop
.CW factotum 's
APOP module would add the requirements of
.CW user
.CW !password
attributes, forming the query
.P1 proto=apop user? !password?
when searching for an appropriate key.
.CW Factotum
modules expect keys to have some well-known attributes.
For instance, the
.CW proto
attribute specifies the protocol module
responsible for using a particular key,
and protocol modules may expect other well-known attributes
(many expect keys to have
.CW !password
attributes, for example).
Additional attributes can be used as comments or for
further discrimination without intervention by 
.CW factotum ; 
for example, the APOP and IMAP mail clients conventionally
include a
.CW server
attribute to select an appropriate key for authentication.
Unlike in SDSI,
keys in Plan 9 have no nested structure.  This design
keeps the representation simple and straightforward.
If necessary, we could add a nested attribute
or, in the manner of relational databases, an attribute that
selects another tuple, but so far the simple design has been sufficient.
A simple common structure for all keys makes them easy for users
to administer,
but the set of attributes and their interpretation is still
protocol-specific and can be subtle.
Users may still
need to consult a manual to understand all details.
Many attributes
.CW proto , (
.CW user ,
.CW password ,
.CW server )
are self-explanatory and our short experience
has not uncovered any particular difficulty in handling keys.
will likely get messier, however,
when we grapple with public
keys and their myriad components.
Protecting keys
Secrets must be prevented from escaping
.CW factotum .
There are a number of ways they could leak:
another process might be able to debug the agent process, the
agent might swap out to disk, or the process might willingly
disclose the key.
The last is the easiest to avoid:
secret information in a key is marked
as such, and
.CW factotum
prints keys or queries for new
ones, it is careful to avoid displaying secret information.
(The only exception to this is the
``plaintext password'' protocol, which consists
of sending the values of the
.CW user
.CW !password
Only keys tagged with
.CW proto=pass
can have their passwords disclosed by this mechanism.)
Preventing the first two forms of leakage
requires help from the kernel.
In Plan 9, every process is
represented by a directory in the
.CW /proc
file system.
Using the files in this directory,
other processes could (with appropriate access permission) examine
.CW factotum 's
memory and registers.
.CW Factotum
is protected from processes of other users
by the default access bits of its
.CW /proc
However, we'd also like to protect the
agent from other processes owned by the same user,
both to avoid honest mistakes and to prevent
an unattended terminal being
exploited to discover secret passwords.
To do this, we added a control message to
.CW /proc
.CW private .
Once the
.CW factotum
process has written
.CW private
to its
.CW /proc/\f2pid\fP/ctl
file, no process can access
.CW factotum 's
.CW /proc .
(Plan 9 has no other mechanism, such as
.CW /dev/kmem ,
for accessing a process's memory.)
Similarly, the agent's address space should not be
swapped out, to prevent discovering unencrypted
keys on the swapping media.
.CW noswap
control message in
.CW /proc
prevents this scenario.
.CW private
.CW noswap
is specific to
.CW factotum .
User-level file servers such as
.CW dossrv ,
which interprets FAT file systems,
could use
.CW noswap
to keep their buffer caches from being
swapped to disk.
Despite our precautions, attackers might still
find a way to gain access to a process running as the host
owner on a machine.
Although they could not directly
access the keys, attackers could use the local
.CW factotum
to perform authentications for them.
In the case
of some keys, for example those locking bank
accounts, we want a way to disable or at least
detect such access.
That is the role of the
.CW confirm
attribute in a key.
Whenever a key with a
.CW confirm
attribute is accessed, the local user must
confirm use of the key via a local GUI.
The next section describes the actual mechanism.
We have not addressed leaks possible as a result of
someone rebooting or resetting a machine running
.CW factotum .
For example, someone could reset a machine
and reboot it with a debugger instead of a kernel,
allowing them to examine the contents of memory
and find keys.  We have not found a satisfactory
solution to this problem.
Factotum transactions
External programs manage
.CW factotum 's
internal key state
through its file interface,
writing textual
.CW key
.CW delkey
commands to the
.CW /mnt/factotum/ctl
Both commands take a list of attributes as an argument.
.CW Key
creates a key with the given attributes, replacing any
extant key with an identical set of public attributes.
.CW Delkey
deletes all keys that match the given set of attributes.
Reading the 
.CW ctl
file returns a list of keys, one per line, displaying only public attributes.
The following example illustrates these interactions.
% cd /mnt/factotum
% ls -l
-lrw------- gre gre 0 Jan 30 22:17 confirm
--rw------- gre gre 0 Jan 30 22:17 ctl
-lr-------- gre gre 0 Jan 30 22:17 log
-lrw------- gre gre 0 Jan 30 22:17 needkey
--r--r--r-- gre gre 0 Jan 30 22:17 proto
--rw-rw-rw- gre gre 0 Jan 30 22:17 rpc
% cat >ctl
key proto=p9sk1 user=gre
    !password='don''t tell'
key proto=apop user=gre
    !password='bite me'
% cat ctl
key proto=p9sk1 user=gre
key proto=apop user=gre
% echo 'delkey proto=apop' >ctl
% cat ctl
key proto=p9sk1 user=gre
(A file with the
.CW l
bit set can be opened by only one process at a time.)
The heart of the interface is the
.CW rpc
Programs authenticate with
.CW factotum
by writing a request to the
.CW rpc
and reading back the reply; this sequence is called an RPC
.I transaction .
Requests and replies have the same format:
a textual verb possibly followed by arguments,
which may be textual or binary.
The most common reply verb is
.CW ok ,
indicating success.
An RPC session begins with a
.CW start
transaction; the argument is a key query as described
Once started, an RPC conversation usually consists of 
a sequence of
.CW read
.CW write
If the conversation is successful, an
.CW authinfo
transaction will return information about
the identities learned during the transaction.
.CW attr
transaction returns a list of attributes for the current
conversation; the list includes any attributes given in
.CW start
query as well as any public attributes from keys being used.
As an example of the
.CW rpc
file in action, consider a mail client
connecting to a mail server and authenticating using
the POP3 protocol's APOP challenge-response command.
There are four programs involved: the mail client $P sub C#, the client
.CW factotum
$F sub C#, the mail server $P sub S#, and the server
.CW factotum
$F sub S#.
All authentication computations are handled by the
.CW factotum
The mail programs' role is just to relay messages.
At startup, the mail server at
begins an APOP conversation
with its
.CW factotum
to obtain the banner greeting, which
includes a challenge:
$P sub S -> F sub S#: start proto=apop role=server
$F sub S -> P sub S#: ok
$P sub S -> F sub S#: read
$F sub S -> P sub S#: ok +OK POP3 \f2challenge\fP
Having obtained the challenge, the server greets the client:
$P sub S -> P sub C#: +OK POP3 \f2challenge\fP
The client then uses an APOP conversation with its
.CW factotum
to obtain a response:
$P sub C -> F sub C#: start proto=apop role=client
$F sub C -> P sub C#: ok
$P sub C -> F sub C#: write +OK POP3 \f2challenge\fP
$F sub C -> P sub C#: ok
$P sub C -> F sub C#: read
$F sub C -> P sub C#: ok APOP gre \f2response\fP
.CW Factotum
requires that
.CW start
requests include a 
.CW proto
attribute, and the APOP module requires an additional
.CW role
attribute, but the other attributes are optional and only
restrict the key space.
Before responding to the
.CW start
transaction, the client
.CW factotum
looks for a key to
use for the rest of the conversation.
Because of the arguments in the
.CW start
request, the key must have public attributes
.CW proto=apop
.CW ;
as mentioned earlier,
the APOP module additionally requires that the key have
.CW user
.CW !password
Now that the client has obtained a response
from its
.CW factotum ,
it echoes that response to the server:
$P sub C -> P sub S#: APOP gre \f2response\fP
Similarly, the server passes this message to
.CW factotum
and obtains another to send back.
$P sub S -> F sub S#: write APOP gre \f2response\fP
$F sub S -> P sub S#: ok
$P sub S -> F sub S#: read
$F sub S -> P sub S#: ok +OK welcome

$P sub S -> P sub C#: +OK welcome
Now the authentication protocol is done, and
the server can retrieve information
about what the protocol established.
$P sub S -> F sub S#: authinfo
$F sub S -> P sub S#: ok client=gre
.CW authinfo
data is a list of
.I attr\f(CW=\fPvalue
pairs, here a client user name and a capability.
(Protocols that establish shared secrets or provide
mutual authentication indicate this by adding
.I attr\f(CW=\fPvalue
The capability can be used by the server to change its
identity to that of the client, as described earlier.
Once it has changed its identity, the server can access and serve
the client's mailbox.
Two more files provide hooks for a graphical
.CW factotum
control interface.
The first, 
.CW confirm ,
allows the user detailed control over the use of certain keys.
If a key has a
.CW confirm=
attribute, then the user must approve each use of the key.
A separate program with a graphical interface reads from the
.CW confirm
file to see when a confirmation is necessary.
The read blocks until a key usage needs to be approved, whereupon
it will return a line of the form
confirm tag=1 \f2attributes\fP
requesting permission to use the key with those public attributes.
The graphical interface then prompts the user for approval
and writes back
tag=1 answer=yes
.CW answer=no ).
The second file,
.CW needkey ,
diverts key requests.
In the APOP example, if a suitable key had not been found
during the
.CW start
.CW factotum
would have indicated failure by
returning a response indicating
what key was needed:
$F sub C -> P sub C#: needkey proto=apop user? !password?
A typical client would then prompt the user for the desired
key information, create a new key via the
.CW ctl
file, and then reissue the 
.CW start
If the
.CW needkey
file is open,
then instead of failing, the transaction
will block, and the next read from the
.CW /mnt/factotum/needkey
file will return a line of the form
needkey tag=1 \f2attributes\f2
The graphical interface then prompts the user for the needed
key information, creates the key via the
.CW ctl
file, and writes back
.CW tag=1
to resume the transaction.
The remaining files are informational and used for debugging.
.CW proto
file contains a list of supported protocols (to see what protocols the
system supports,
.CW cat
.CW /mnt/factotum/proto ),
and the
.CW log
file contains a log of operations and debugging output
enabled by a
.CW debug
control message.
The next few sections explain how
.CW factotum
is used by system services.
.NH 1
Authentication in 9P
Plan 9 uses a remote file access protocol, 9P
to connect to resources such as the
file server and remote processes.
The original design for 9P included special messages at the start of a conversation
to authenticate the user.
Multiple users can share a single connection, such as when a CPU server
runs processes for many users connected to a single file server,
but each must authenticate separately.
The authentication protocol, similar to that of Kerberos
used a sequence of messages passed between client, file server, and authentication
server to verify the identities of the user, calling machine, and serving machine.
One major drawback to the design was that the authentication method was defined by 9P
itself and could not be changed.  
Moreover, there was no mechanism to relegate
authentication to an external (trusted) agent,
so a process implementing 9P needed, besides support for file service,
a substantial body of cryptographic code to implement a handful of startup messages
in the protocol.
A recent redesign of 9P
addressed a number of file service issues outside the scope of this paper.
On issues of authentication, there were two goals:
first, to remove details about authentication from the
protocol itself; second, to allow an external program to execute the authentication
part of the protocol.
In particular, we wanted a way to quickly incorporate
ideas found in other systems such as SFS
Since 9P is a file service protocol, the solution involved creating a new type of file
to be served: an
.I authentication
.I file .
Connections to a 9P service begin in a state that
allows no general file access but permits the client
to open an authentication file
by sending a special message, generated by the new
.CW fauth
system call:
afd = fauth(int fd, char *servicename);
.CW fd
is the user's file descriptor for the established network connection to the 9P server
.CW servicename
is the name of the desired service offered on that server, typically the file subsystem
to be accessed.
The returned file descriptor,
.CW afd ,
is a unique handle representing the authentication file
created for this connection to authenticate to
this service; it is analogous to a capability.
The authentication file represented by
.CW afd
is not otherwise addressable on the server, such as through
the file name hierarchy.
In all other respects, it behaves like a regular file;
most important, it accepts standard read and write operations.
To prove its identity, the user process (via
.CW factotum )
executes the authentication protocol,
described in the next section of this paper,
over the
.CW afd
file descriptor with ordinary reads and writes.
When client and server have successfully negotiated, the authentication file
changes state so it can be used as evidence of authority in
.CW mount .
Once identity is established, the process presents the (now verified)
.CW afd
as proof of identity to the
.CW mount
system call:
mount(int fd, int afd, char *mountpoint,
      int flag, char *servicename)
If the
.CW mount
succeeds, the user now
has appropriate permissions for the file hierarchy made
visible at the mount point.
This sequence of events has several advantages.
First, the actual authentication protocol is implemented using regular reads and writes,
not special 9P messages, so
they can be processed, forwarded, proxied, and so on by
any 9P agent without special arrangement.
Second, the business of negotiating the authentication by reading and writing the
authentication file can be delegated to an outside agent, in particular
.CW factotum ;
the programs that implement the client and server ends of a 9P conversation need
no authentication or cryptographic code.
since the authentication protocol is not defined by 9P itself, it is easy to change and
can even be negotiated dynamically.
Finally, since
.CW afd
acts like a capability, it can be treated like one:
handed to another process to give it special permissions;
kept around for later use when authentication is again required;
or closed to make sure no other process can use it.
All these advantages stem from moving the authentication negotiation into
reads and writes on a separate file.
As is often the case in Plan 9,
making a resource (here authentication) accessible with a file-like interface
.I a
.I priori
the need for special interfaces.
Plan 9 shared key protocol
In addition to the various standard protocols supported by
.CW factotum ,
we use a shared key protocol for native
Plan 9 authentication.
This protocol provides backward compatibility with
older versions of the system.  One reason for the new
architecture is to let us replace such protocols
in the near future with more cryptographically secure ones.
.I P9sk1
is a shared key protocol that uses tickets much like those
in the original Kerberos.
The difference is that we've
replaced the expiration time in Kerberos tickets with
a random nonce parameter and a counter.
We summarize it here:
$C -> S: ~~ "nonce" sub C#
$S -> C: ~~ "nonce" sub S , "uid" sub S , "domain" sub S#

$C -> A: ~~ "nonce" sub S , "uid" sub S , "domain" sub S , "uid" sub C ,#
         $"factotum" sub C#
$A -> C: ~~ K sub C roman "{" "nonce" sub S , "uid" sub C , "uid" sub S, K sub n roman "}",#
         $K sub S roman "{" "nonce" sub S , "uid" sub C , "uid" sub S, K sub n roman "}"#

$C -> S: ~~ K sub S roman "{" "nonce" sub S , "uid" sub C , "uid" sub S , K sub n roman "}",#
         $K sub n roman "{" "nonce" sub S , "counter" roman "}"#
$S -> C: ~~ K sub n roman "{" "nonce" sub C , "counter" roman "}"#
(Here $K roman "{" x roman "}"# indicates $x# encrypted with
DES key $K#.)
The first two messages exchange nonces and server identification.
After this initial exchange, the client contacts the authentication
server to obtain a pair of encrypted tickets, one encrypted with
the client key and one with the server key.
The client relays the server ticket to the server.
The server believes that the ticket is new
because it contains
$"nonce" sub S#
and that the ticket is from the authentication
server because it is encrypted in the server key $K sub S#.
The ticket is basically a statement from the authentication
server that now $"uid" sub C# and $"uid" sub S# share a
secret $K sub n#.
The authenticator $K sub n roman "{" "nonce" sub S , "counter" roman "}"#
convinces the server that the client knows $K sub n# and thus
must be $"uid" sub C#.
Similarly, authenticator $K sub n roman "{" "nonce" sub C , "counter" roman "}"#
convinces the client that the server knows $K sub n# and thus
must be $"uid" sub S#.
Tickets can be reused, without contacting the authentication
server again, by incrementing the counter before each
authenticator is generated.
In the future we hope to introduce a public key version of
which would allow authentication even
when the authentication server is not available.
The authentication server
Each Plan 9 security domain has an authentication server (AS)
that all users trust to keep the complete set of shared keys.
It also offers services for users and administrators to manage the
keys, create and disable accounts, and so on.
It typically runs on
a standalone machine with few other services.
The AS comprises two services,
.CW keyfs
.CW authsrv .
.CW Keyfs
is a user-level file system that manages an
encrypted database of user accounts.
Each account is represented by a directory containing the
.CW key ,
containing the Plan 9 key for p9sk1;
.CW secret
for the challenge/response protocols (APOP, VNC, CHAP, MSCHAP,
.CW log
for authentication outcomes;
.CW expire
for an expiration time; and
.CW status .
If the expiration time passes,
if the number of successive failed authentications
exceeds 50, or if
.CW disabled
is written to the status file,
any attempt to access the
.CW key
.CW secret
files will fail.
.CW Authsrv
is a network service that brokers shared key authentications
for the protocols p9sk1, APOP, VNC, CHAP, MSCHAP,
and CRAM.  Remote users can also call
.CW authsrv
to change their passwords.
protocol was described in the previous
The challenge/response protocols differ
in detail but all follow the general structure:
$C -> S: ~~ "nonce" sub C#
$S -> C: ~~ "nonce" sub S , "uid" sub S ,"domain" sub S#
$C -> A: ~~ "nonce" sub S , "uid" sub S , "domain" sub S ,#
         $"hostid" sub C , "uid" sub C#
$A -> C: ~~ K sub C roman "{" "nonce" sub S , "uid" sub C , "uid" sub S, K sub n roman "}",#
         $K sub S roman "{" "nonce" sub S , "uid" sub C , "uid" sub S, K sub n roman "}"#
$C -> S: ~~ K sub S roman "{" "nonce" sub S , "uid" sub C , "uid" sub S, K sub n roman "}",#
         $K sub n roman "{" "nonce" sub S roman "}"#
$S -> C: ~~ K sub n roman "{" "nonce" sub C roman "}"#
The password protocol is:
$C -> A: ~~ "uid" sub C#
$A -> C: ~~ K sub c roman "{" K sub n roman "}"#
$C -> A: ~~ K sub n roman "{" "password" sub "old" , "password" sub "new" roman "}"#
$A -> C: ~~ OK#
To avoid replay attacks, the pre-encryption
clear text for each of the protocols (as well as for p9sk1) includes
a tag indicating the encryption's role in the
protocol.  We elided them in these outlines.
Protocol negotiation
Rather than require particular protocols for particular services,
we implemented a negotiation metaprotocol,
.I p9any ,
which chooses the actual authentication protocol to use.
is used now by all native services on Plan 9.
The metaprotocol is simple.  The callee sends a
null-terminated string of the form:
v.$n# $proto sub 1#@$domain sub 1# $proto sub 2#@$domain sub 2# ...
.I n
is a decimal version number, $proto sub k#
is the name of a protocol for which the
.CW factotum
has a key, and $domain sub k#
is the name of the domain in which the key is
The caller then responds
indicating its choice.
Finally the callee responds
Any other string indicates failure.
At this point the chosen protocol commences.
The final fixed-length reply is used to make it easy to
delimit the I/O stream should the chosen protocol
require the caller rather than the callee to send the first message.
With this negotiation metaprotocol, the underlying
authentication protocols used for Plan 9 services
can be changed under any application just
by changing the keys known by the
.CW factotum
agents at each end.
P9any is vulnerable to man in the middle attacks
to the extent that the attacker may constrain the
possible choices by changing the stream.  However,
we believe this is acceptable since the attacker
cannot force either side to choose algorithms
that it is unwilling to use.
.NH 1
Library Interface to Factotum
Although programs can access
.CW factotum 's
services through its file system interface,
it is more common to use a C library that
packages the interaction.
There are a number of routines in the library,
not all of which are relevant here, but a few
examples should give their flavor.
First, consider the problem of mounting a remote file server using 9P.
An earlier discussion showed how the
.CW fauth
.CW mount
system calls use an authentication file,
.CW afd ,
as a capability,
but not how
.CW factotum
.CW afd .
The library contains a routine,
.CW amount
(authenticated mount), that is used by most programs in preference to
the raw
.CW fauth
.CW mount
.CW Amount
.CW factotum
to validate
.CW afd ;
here is the complete code:
.ta 3n +3n +3n +3n
amount(int fd, char *mntpt,
	int flags, char *aname)
	int afd, ret;
	AuthInfo *ai;

	afd = fauth(fd, aname);
	if(afd >= 0){
		ai = auth_proxy(afd, amount_getkey,
			"proto=p9any role=client");
		if(ai != NULL)
	ret = mount(fd, afd, mntpt,
		flags, aname);
	if(afd >= 0)
	return ret;
where parameter
.CW fd
is a file descriptor returned by
.CW open
.CW dial
for a new connection to a file server.
The conversation with
.CW factotum
occurs in the call to
.CW auth_proxy ,
which specifies, as a key query,
which authentication protocol to use
(here the metaprotocol
.CW p9any )
and the role being played
.CW client ). (
.CW Auth_proxy
will read and write the
.CW factotum
files, and the authentication file descriptor
.CW afd ,
to validate the user's right to access the service.
If the call is successful, any auxiliary data, held in an
.CW AuthInfo
structure, is freed.
In any case, the
.CW mount
is then called with the (perhaps validated)
.CW afd.
A 9P server can cause the
.CW fauth
system call to fail, as an indication that authentication is
not required to access the service.
The second argument to
.CW auth_proxy
is a function, here
.CW amount_getkey ,
to be called if secret information such as a password or
response to a challenge is required as part of the authentication.
This function, of course, will provide this data to
.CW factotum
as a
.CW key
message on the
.CW /mnt/factotum/ctl
Although the final argument to
.CW auth_proxy
in this example is a simple string, in general
it can be a formatted-print specifier in the manner of
.CW printf ,
to enable the construction of more elaborate key queries.
As another example, consider the Plan 9
.CW cpu
service, which exports local devices to a shell process on
a remote machine, typically
to connect the local screen and keyboard to a more powerful computer.
At heart,
.CW cpu
is a superset of a service called
.CW exportfs
which allows one machine to see an arbitrary portion of the file name space
of another machine, such as to
export the network device to another machine
for gatewaying.
.CW cpu
is not just
.CW exportfs
because it also delivers signals such as interrupt
and negotiates the initial environment
for the remote shell.
To authenticate an instance of
.CW cpu
.CW factotum
processes on both ends: the local, client
end running as the user on a terminal
and the remote, server
end running as the host owner of the server machine.
Here is schematic code for the two ends:
.ta 3n +3n +3n +3n
/* client */
p9auth(int fd)
	AuthInfo *ai;

	ai = auth_proxy(fd, auth_getkey,
		"proto=p9any role=client");
	if(ai == NULL)
		return -1;

	/* start cpu protocol here */

/* server */
srvp9auth(int fd, char *user)
	AuthInfo *ai;

	ai = auth_proxy(fd, NULL,
		"proto=p9any role=server");
	if(ai == NULL)
		return -1;
	/* set user id for server process */
	if(auth_chuid(ai, NULL) < 0)
		return -1;

	/* start cpu protocol here */
.CW Auth_chuid
encapsulates the negotiation to change a user id using the
.CW caphash
.CW capuse
files of the (server) kernel.
Note that although the client process may ask the user for new keys, using
.CW auth_getkey ,
the server machine, presumably a shared machine with a pseudo-user for
the host owner, sets the key-getting function to
.NH 1
Secure Store
.CW Factotum
keeps its keys in volatile memory, which must somehow be
initialized at boot time.
.CW factotum
must be
supplemented by a persistent store, perhaps
a floppy disk containing a key file of commands to be copied into
.CW /mnt/factotum/ctl
during bootstrap.
But removable media are a nuisance to carry and
are vulnerable to theft.
Keys could be stored encrypted on a shared file system, but
only if those keys are not necessary for authenticating to
the file system in the first place.
Even if the keys are encrypted under a user
password, a thief might well succeed with a dictionary attack.
Other risks of local storage are loss of the contents
through mechanical mishap or dead batteries.
Thus for convenience and
safety we provide a
.CW secstore
(secure store) server in the network to hold each user's permanent list of keys, a
.I key
.I file .
.CW Secstore
is a file server for encrypted data,
used only during bootstrapping.
It must provide strong
authentication and resistance to passive and active protocol attacks
while assuming nothing more from the client than a password.
.CW factotum
has loaded the key file, further encrypted or authenticated
file storage can be accomplished by standard mechanisms.
define mod % ~ roman "mod" ~ %
define sha1 % "sha1" %
The cryptographic technology that enables
.CW secstore
is a form of encrypted
key exchange
called PAK
analogous to
PAK was chosen
because it comes with a proof of equivalence in strength to
Diffie-Hellman; subtle flaws in some earlier encrypted key exchange
protocols and implementations have encouraged us to take special care.
In outline, the PAK protocol is:
$C -> S:~ C, g sup x H#
$S -> C:~ S, g sup y , hash(g sup xy , C, S)#
$C -> S:~ hash(g sup xy , S, C)#
where $H# is a preshared secret between client $C# and server $S#.
There are several variants of PAK, all presented in papers
mainly concerned with proofs of cryptographic properties.
To aid implementers, we have distilled a description of the specific
version we use into an Appendix to this paper.
The Plan 9 open source license provides for use of Lucent's
encrypted key exchange patents in this context.
As a further layer of defense against password theft,
we provide (within the encrypted channel $C -> S#)
information that is validated at a RADIUS server,
such as the digits from a hardware token
This provides two-factor authentication, which potentially
requires tricking two independent administrators in any attack by
social engineering.
The key file stored on the server is encrypted with AES (Rijndael) using CBC
with a 10-byte initialization vector and trailing authentication padding.
All this is invisible to the user of
.CW secstore .
For that matter, it is invisible to the
.CW secstore
server as well;
if the AES Modes of Operation are standardized and a new encryption format
designed, it can be implemented by a client without change to the server.
.CW secstore
is deliberately not backed up;  the user is expected to
use more than one
.CW secstore
or save the key file on removable media
and lock it away.
The user's password is hashed to create the $H# used
in the PAK protocol;  a different hash of the password is used as
the file encryption key.
Finally, there is a command (inside the authenticated,
encrypted channel between client and
.CW secstore )
to change passwords by sending
a new $H#; 
for consistency, the client process must at the same time fetch and re-encrypt all files.
.CW factotum
starts, it dials the local
.CW secstore
and checks whether the user has an account.
If so,
it prompts for the user's
.CW secstore
password and fetches the key file.
The PAK protocol
ensures mutual authentication and prevents dictionary attacks on the password
by passive wiretappers or active intermediaries.
Passwords saved in
the key file can be long random strings suitable for
simpler challenge/response authentication protocols.
Thus the user need only remember
a single, weaker password to enable strong, ``single sign on'' authentication to
unchanged legacy applications scattered across multiple authentication domains.
.NH 1
Transport Layer Security
Since the Plan 9 operating system is designed for use in network elements
that must withstand direct attack, unguarded by firewall or VPN, we seek
to ensure that all applications use channels with appropriate mutual
authentication and encryption.
A principal tool for this is TLS 1.0
(TLS 1.0 is nearly the same as SSL 3.0,
and our software is designed to interoperate
with implementations of either standard.)
TLS defines a record layer protocol for message integrity and privacy
through the use of message digesting and encryption with shared secrets.
We implement this service as a kernel device, though it could
be performed at slightly higher cost by invoking a separate program.
The library interface to the TLS kernel device is:
int pushtls(int fd, char *hashalg,
    char *cryptalg, int isclient,
    char *secret, char *dir);
Given a file descriptor, the names of message digest and
encryption algorithms, and the shared secret,
.CW pushtls
returns a new file descriptor for the encrypted connection.
(The final argument
.CW dir
receives the name of the directory in the TLS device that
is associated with the new connection.)
The function is named by analogy with the ``push'' operation
supported by the stream I/O system of Research Unix and the
first two editions of Plan 9.
Because adding encryption is as simple as replacing one
file descriptor with another, adding encryption to a particular
network service is usually trivial.
The Plan 9 shared key authentication protocols establish a shared 56-bit secret
as a side effect.
Native Plan 9 network services such as
.CW cpu
.CW exportfs
use these protocols for authentication and then invoke 
.CW pushtls
with the shared secret.
Above the record layer, TLS specifies a handshake protocol using public keys
to establish the session secret.
This protocol is widely used with HTTP and IMAP4
to provide server authentication, though with client certificates it could provide
mutual authentication.  The library function
int tlsClient(int fd, TLSconn *conn)
handles the initial handshake and returns the result of
.CW pushtls .
On return, it fills the
.CW conn
structure with the session ID used
and the X.509 certificate presented by the
server, but makes no effort to verify the certificate.
Although the original design intent of X.509 certificates expected
that they would be used with a Public Key Infrastructure,
reliable deployment has been so long delayed and problematic
that we have adopted the simpler policy of just using the
X.509 certificate as a representation of the public key,
depending on a locally-administered directory of SHA1 thumbprints
to allow applications to decide which public keys to trust
for which purposes.
.NH 1
Related Work and Discussion
Kerberos, one of the earliest distributed authentication
systems, keeps a set of authentication tickets in a temporary file called
a ticket cache.  The ticket cache is protected by Unix file permissions.
An environment variable containing the file name of the ticket cache
allows for different ticket caches in different simultaneous login sessions.
A user logs in by typing his or her Kerberos password.
The login program uses the Kerberos password to obtain a temporary
ticket-granting ticket from the authentication server, initializes the
ticket cache with the ticket-granting ticket, and then forgets the password.
Other applications can use the ticket-granting ticket to sign tickets
for themselves on behalf of the user during the login session.
The ticket cache is removed when the user logs out
The ticket cache relieves the user from typing a password
every time authentication is needed.
The secure shell SSH develops this idea further, replacing the
temporary file with a named Unix domain socket connected to
a user-level program, called an agent.
Once the SSH agent is started and initialized with one or
more RSA private keys, SSH clients can employ it
to perform RSA authentications on their behalf.
In the absence of an agent, SSH typically uses RSA keys
read from encrypted disk files or uses passphrase-based
authentication, both of which would require prompting the user
for a passphrase whenever authentication is needed
The self-certifying file system SFS uses a similar agent
not only for moderating the use of client authentication keys 
but also for verifying server public keys
.CW Factotum
is a logical continuation of this evolution,
replacing the program-specific SSH or SFS agents with
a general agent capable of serving a wide variety of programs.
Having one agent for all programs removes the need
to have one agent for each program.
It also allows the programs themselves to be protocol-agnostic,
so that, for example, one could build an SSH workalike
capable of using any protocol supported by
.CW factotum ,
without that program knowing anything about the protocols.
Traditionally each program needs to implement each
authentication protocol for itself, an $O(n sup 2 )# coding
problem that
.CW factotum
reduces to $O(n)#.
Previous work on agents has concentrated on their use by clients
authenticating to servers.
Looking in the other direction, Sun Microsystem's 
pluggable authentication module (PAM) is one
of the earliest attempts to 
provide a general authentication mechanism for Unix-like 
operating systems
Without a central authority like PAM, system policy is tied
up in the various implementations of network services.
For example, on a typical Unix, if a system administrator
decides not to allow plaintext passwords for authentication,
the configuration files for a half dozen different servers \(em
.CW rlogind ,
.CW telnetd ,
.CW ftpd ,
.CW sshd ,
and so on \(em
need to be edited.
PAM solves this problem by hiding the details of a given
authentication mechanism behind a common library interface.
Directed by a system-wide configuration file,
an application selects a particular authentication mechanism
by dynamically loading the appropriate shared library.
PAM is widely used on Sun's Solaris and some Linux distributions.
.CW Factotum
achieves the same goals
using the agent approach.
.CW Factotum
is the only process that needs to create
capabilities, so all the network servers can run as 
untrusted users (e.g.,
Plan 9's
.CW none
or Unix's
.CW nobody ),
which greatly reduces the harm done if a server is buggy
and is compromised.
In fact, if
.CW factotum
were implemented on Unix along with
an analogue to the Plan 9 capability device, venerable
programs like
.CW su
.CW login
would no longer need to be installed ``setuid root.''
Several other systems, such as Password Safe [Schn],
store multiple passwords in an encrypted file,
so that the user only needs to remember one password.
.CW secstore
solution differs from these by placing the storage in
a hardened location in the network, so that the encrypted file is
less liable to be stolen for offline dictionary attack and so that
it is available even when a user has several computers.
In contrast, Microsoft's Passport system
keeps credentials in
the network, but centralized at one extremely-high-value target.
The important feature of Passport, setting up trust relationships
with e-merchants, is outside our scope.
.CW secstore
architecture is almost identical to
Perlman and Kaufman's
but with newer EKE technology.
Like them, we chose to defend mainly against outside attacks
.CW secstore ;
if additional defense of the files on the server
itself is desired, one can use distributed techniques
We made a conscious choice of placing encryption, message integrity,
and key management at the application layer
(TLS, just above layer 4) rather than at layer 3, as in IPsec.
This leads to a simpler structure for the network stack, easier
integration with applications and, most important, easier network
administration since we can recognize which applications are misbehaving
based on TCP port numbers.  TLS does suffer (relative to IPsec) from
the possibility of forged TCP Reset, but we feel that this is adequately
dealt with by randomized TCP sequence numbers.
In contrast with other TLS libraries, Plan 9 does not
require the application to change
.CW write
calls to
.CW sslwrite
but simply to add a few lines of code at startup
.NH 1
Writing safe code is difficult.
Stack attacks,
mistakes in logic, and bugs in compilers and operating systems
can each make it possible for an attacker
to subvert the intended execution sequence of a
If the server process has the privileges
of a powerful user, such as
.CW root
on Unix, then so does the attacker.
.CW Factotum
allows us
to constrain the privileged execution to a single
process whose core is a few thousand lines of code.
Verifying such a process, both through manual and automatic means,
is much easier and less error prone
than requiring it of all servers.
An implementation of these ideas is in Plan 9 from Bell Labs, Fourth Edition,
freely available from \f(CWhttp://\\%plan9\fP.
William Josephson contributed to the implementation of password changing in
.CW secstore .
We thank Phil MacKenzie and Martín Abadi for helpful comments on early parts
of the design.
Chuck Blake,
Peter Bosch,
Frans Kaashoek,
Sape Mullender,
Lakshman Y. N.,
predominantly Dutchmen, gave helpful comments on the paper.
Russ Cox is supported by a fellowship from the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation.
S.M. Bellovin and M. Merritt,
``Augmented Encrypted Key Exchange,''
Proceedings of the 1st ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, 1993, pp. 244 - 250.
Victor Boyko, Philip MacKenzie, and Sarvar Patel,
``Provably Secure Password-Authenticated Key Exchange using Diffie-Hellman,''
Eurocrypt 2000, 156\-171.
T . Dierks and C. Allen,
``The TLS Protocol, Version 1.0,''
RFC 2246.
Warwick Ford and Burton S. Kaliski, Jr.,
``Server-Assisted Generation of a Strong Secret from a Password,''
IEEE Fifth International Workshop on Enterprise Security,
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST),
Gaithersburg MD, June 14 - 16, 2000.
David P. Jablon,
``Strong Password-Only Authenticated Key Exchange,''
Michael Kaminsky.
``Flexible Key Management with SFS Agents,''
Master's Thesis, MIT, May 2000.
Philip MacKenzie,
private communication.
David Mazières, Michael Kaminsky, M. Frans Kaashoek and Emmett Witchel,
``Separating key management from file system security,''
Symposium on Operating Systems Principles, 1999, pp. 124-139.
Microsoft Passport,
Radia Perlman and Charlie Kaufman,
``Secure Password-Based Protocol for Downloading a Private Key,''
Proc. 1999 Network and Distributed System Security Symposium,
Internet Society, January 1999.
Rob Pike, Dave Presotto, Sean Dorward, Bob Flandrena, Ken Thompson, Howard Trickey, and Phil Winterbottom,
``Plan 9 from Bell Labs,''
Computing Systems, \f3\&8\fP, 3, Summer 1995, pp. 221-254.
Rob Pike, Dave Presotto, Ken Thompson, Howard Trickey, Phil Winterbottom,
``The Use of Name Spaces in Plan 9,''
Operating Systems Review, \f3\&27\fP, 2, April 1993, pp. 72-76
(reprinted from Proceedings of the 5th ACM SIGOPS European Workshop,
Mont Saint-Michel, 1992, Paper nº 34).
Eric Rescorla,
``SSL and TLS: Designing and Building Secure Systems,''
Addison-Wesley, 2001. ISBN 0-201-61598-3, p. 387.
C. Rigney, A. Rubens, W. Simpson, S. Willens,
``Remote Authentication Dial In User Service (RADIUS),''
RFC2138, April 1997.
Ronald L. Rivest and Butler Lampson,
``SDSI\(emA Simple Distributed Security Infrastructure,''
Bruce Schneier, Password Safe,
Vipin Samar,
``Unified Login with Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAM),''
Proceedings of the Third ACM Conference on Computer Communications and Security,
March 1996, New Delhi, India.
Jennifer G. Steiner, Clifford Neumann, and Jeffrey I. Schiller,
``\fIKerberos\fR: An Authentication Service for Open Network Systems,''
Proceedings of USENIX Winter Conference, Dallas, Texas, February 1988, pp. 191\-202.
T. Wu,
``The Secure Remote Password Protocol,''
Proceedings of
the 1998 Internet Society Network and Distributed System Security
Symposium, San Diego, CA, March 1998, pp. 97-111.
Ylonen, T.,
``SSH\(emSecure Login Connections Over the Internet,''
6th USENIX Security Symposium, pp. 37-42. San Jose, CA, July 1996.
Appendix: Summary of the PAK protocol
Let $q>2 sup 160# and $p>2 sup 1024# be primes
such that $p=rq+1# with $r# not a multiple of $q#.
Take $h ∈ Z sub p sup *# such that $g == h sup r# is not 1.
These parameters may be chosen by the NIST algorithm for DSA,
and are public, fixed values.
The client $C# knows a secret $pi#
and computes $H == (H sub 1 (C, ~ pi )) sup r# and $H sup -1#,
where $H sub 1# is a hash function yielding a random element of $Z sub p sup *#,
and $H sup -1# may be computed by gcd.
(All arithmetic is modulo $p#.)
The client gives $H sup -1# to the server $S# ahead of time by a private channel.
To start a new connection, the client generates a random value $x#,
computes $m == g sup x H#,
then calls the server and sends $C# and $m#.
The server checks $m != 0 mod p#,
generates random $y#,
computes $ mu == g sup y#,
$ sigma == (m H sup -1 ) sup y#,
and sends $S#, $mu#, $k == sha1 ( roman "\"server\"", C, S, m, mu , sigma , H sup -1 )#.
Next the client computes $sigma =  mu sup x#,
verifies $k#,
and sends $k' == sha1 ( roman "\"client\"", C, S, m, mu , sigma , H sup -1 )#.
The server then verifies $k'# and both sides begin
using session key $K == sha1 ( roman "\"session\"", C, S, m, mu , sigma , H sup -1 )#.
In the published version of PAK, the server name $S#
is included in the initial
hash $H#, but doing so is inconvenient in our application,
as the server may be known by various equivalent names.
MacKenzie has shown
that the
equivalence proof [Boyk00]
can be adapted to cover our version.