The Diffie-Hellman (DH) method of authenticating a user is nontrivial for an intruder to crack. The client and the server have their own private key, which they use with the public key to devise a common key. The private key is also known as the secret key. The client and the server use the common key to communicate with each other by using an agreed-on encryption function, such as DES. This method was identified as DES authentication in previous Solaris releases.
Authentication is based on the ability of the sending system to use the common key to encrypt the current time. Then the receiving system can decrypt and check against its current time. Make sure to synchronize the time on the client and the server.
The public keys and private keys are stored in an NIS or NIS+ database. NIS stores the keys in the publickey map. NIS+ stores the keys in the cred table. These files contain the public key and the private key for all potential users.
The system administrator is responsible for setting up NIS maps or NIS+ tables, and generating a public key and a private key for each user. The private key is stored in encrypted form with the user's password. This process makes the private key known only to the user.
Sometime prior to a transaction, the administrator runs either the newkey or nisaddcred command to generate a public key and a secret key. Each user has a unique public key and secret key. The public key is stored in a public database. The secret key is stored in encrypted form in the same database. To change the key pair, use the chkey command.
Normally, the login password is identical to the secure RPC password. In this case, the keylogin command is not required. However, if the passwords are different, the users have to log in, and then run a keylogin command explicitly.
The keylogin command prompts the user for a secure RPC password. The command then uses the password to decrypt the secret key. The keylogin command then passes the decrypted secret key to a program that is called the keyserver. The keyserver is an RPC service with a local instance on every computer. The keyserver saves the decrypted secret key and waits for the user to initiate a secure RPC transaction with a server.
If both the login password and the RPC password are the same, the login process passes the secret key to the keyserver. If the passwords are required to be different and the user must always run the keylogin command, then the keylogin command can be included in the user's environment configuration file, such as the ~/.login, ~/.cshrc, or ~/.profile file. Then the keylogin command runs automatically whenever the user logs in.
The keyserver randomly generates a conversation key.
The kernel uses the conversation key to encrypt the client's time stamp, among other things.
The keyserver looks up the server's public key in the public key database. See the publickey(4) man page for more information.
The keyserver uses the client's secret key and the server's public key to create a common key.
The keyserver encrypts the conversation key with the common key.
The transmission, which includes the encrypted time stamp and the encrypted conversation key, is then sent to the server. The transmission includes a credential and a verifier. The credential contains three components:
The client's net name
The conversation key, which is encrypted with the common key
A “window,” which is encrypted with the conversation key
The window is the difference in time that the client says should be allowed between the server's clock and the client's time stamp. If the difference between the server's clock and the time stamp is greater than the window, the server rejects the client's request. Under normal circumstances, this rejection does not happen, because the client first synchronizes with the server before starting the RPC session.
The encrypted time stamp
An encrypted verifier of the specified window, which is decremented by 1
The window verifier is needed in case somebody wants to impersonate a user. The impersonator can write a program that, instead of filling in the encrypted fields of the credential and verifier, just stuffs in random bits. The server decrypts the conversation key into some random key. The server then uses the key to try to decrypt the window and the time stamp. The result is random numbers. After a few thousand trials, however, the random window/time stamp pair is likely to pass the authentication system. The window verifier makes the process of guessing the right credential much more difficult.
The keyserver that is local to the server looks up the client's public key in the public key database.
The keyserver uses the client's public key and the server's secret key to deduce the common key. The common key is the same common key that is computed by the client. Only the server and the client can calculate the common key because the calculation requires knowing one of the secret keys.
The kernel uses the common key to decrypt the conversation key.
The kernel calls the keyserver to decrypt the client's time stamp with the decrypted conversation key.
The client's computer name
The conversation key
The client's time stamp
The server stores the first three items for future use. The server stores the time stamp to protect against replays. The server accepts only time stamps that are chronologically greater than the last time stamp seen, so any replayed transactions are guaranteed to be rejected.
Implicit in these procedures are the name of the caller, who must be authenticated in some manner. The keyserver cannot use DES authentication to authenticate the caller because it would create a deadlock. To solve this problem, the keyserver stores the secret keys by user ID (UID) and grants requests only to local root processes.
The index ID, which the server records in its credential cache
The client's time stamp minus 1, which is encrypted by the conversation key
The reason for subtracting 1 from the time stamp is to ensure that the time stamp is invalid. So, the time stamp cannot be reused as a client verifier.
With every transaction after the first transaction, the client returns the index ID to the server in its second transaction and sends another encrypted time stamp. The server sends back the client's time stamp minus 1, which is encrypted by the conversation key.