|Oracle® Fusion Middleware Reference for Oracle Directory Server Enterprise Edition
11g Release 1 (220.127.116.11.0)
Part Number E28969-01
|PDF · Mobi · ePub|
For information about the security in Directory Server, see the following sections:
Directory Server provides security through a combination of the following methods:
Authentication is a means for one party to verify another's identity. For example, a client gives a password to Directory Server during an LDAP bind operation. Policies define the criteria that a password must satisfy to be considered valid, for example, age, length, and syntax. Directory Server supports anonymous authentication, password-based authentication, certificate-based authentication, SASL-based authentication, and proxy authentication. When authentication is denied, Directory Server provides the following mechanisms to protect data: account inactivation and global lockout. For information about authentication, see How Directory Server Provides Authentication.
Encryption protects the privacy of information. When data is encrypted, the data is scrambled in a way that only a legitimate recipient can decode. Directory Server supports SSL encryption and attribute encryption. For information about encryption, see How Directory Server Provides Encryption.
Access control tailors the access rights granted to different directory users, and provides a means of specifying required credentials or bind attributes. For information about access control , see How Directory Server Provides Access Control.
Auditing determines whether the security of a directory has been compromised. For example, log files maintained by a directory can be audited. For information about log files, see Chapter 10, "Directory Server Logging".
Directory Server uses access control instructions (ACIs) to define what rights to grant or deny to requests from LDAP clients. When a directory server receives a request, it uses the ACIs defined in the server, and any authentication information provided by the user to allow or deny access to directory information. The server can allow or deny permissions such as read, write, search, or compare.
For information about ACIs in Directory Server, see the following sections:
ACIs are stored in the
aci operational attribute. The
aci attribute is available for use on every entry in the directory, regardless of whether the
aci attribute is defined for the object class of the entry. The
aci attribute is multi-valued, therefore multiple ACIs can be defined for the same portion of a directory.
ACIs can be used to control access to the following portions of a directory:
The entire directory
A subtree of the directory
Specific entries in the directory, including entries that define configuration tasks
A specific set of entry attributes
Specific entry attribute values
ACIs can be used to define access for the following users:
A specific user
All users belonging to a specific group or role
All users of the directory
A specific client identified by its IP address or DNS name
ACIs can be created at any node in a directory tree, including the root DSE.
The scope of an ACI can be the target entry, the target entry and its immediate children, or the target entry and all of its children. When no scope is specified, the ACI applies to the target entry and all of its children.
When a server evaluates access permissions to an entry, it verifies the ACIs for the entry and the ACIs for the parent entries back up to the base of the entry's root suffix.
Access to an entry in a server must be explicitly granted by an ACI. By default, ACIs define anonymous read access and allow users to modify their own entries, except for attributes needed for security. If no ACI applies to an entry, access is denied to all users except the Directory Manager.
Access granted by an ACI is allowed unless any other ACI in the hierarchy denies it. ACIs that deny access, no matter where they appear in the hierarchy, take precedence over ACIs that allow access to the same resource.
The Directory Manager is the only privileged user to whom access control does not apply. When a client is bound to the directory as the Directory Manager, the server does not evaluate any ACIs before performing operations.
In previous versions of Directory Server, ACIs could not be added or deleted directly under the root DSE. Now this limitation has been removed in Directory Server.
The following restrictions apply to ACIs
Access control rules are always evaluated on the local server. You must not specify the hostname or port number of the server in LDAP URLs used in ACI keywords.
You cannot grant a user the right to proxy as the Directory Manager, nor can you grant proxy rights to the Directory Manager.
The cache settings used for ensuring that the server fits the physical memory available do not apply to ACI caches, which means that an excessive number of ACIs may saturate available memory.
The following default ACIs are defined on the root DSE:
All users have anonymous access to the directory for search, compare, and read operations (except for the
Bound users can modify their own password.
Users in the group
cn=Administrators,cn=config have full access to all entries. This is equivalent to Directory Manager access, although unlike Directory Manager, users in the Administration Group are subject to ACIs.
ACIs are always evaluated locally, on the directory server that services the incoming LDAP requests.
When a consumer server receives an update request, the consumer server returns a referral to the master server for evaluation of whether the request can be serviced on the master.
The effective rights feature can be used to obtain the following information:
Rights information, including entry level rights, attribute level rights and logging.
Permissions for write, self write add, and self write delete.
Logging information for debugging access control problems.
To use the effective rights feature, you must have the access control rights to use the effective rights control and read access to the
If a proxy control is attached to an effective rights control-based search operation, the effective rights operation is authorized as the proxy user. Therefore the proxy user needs to have the right to use the effective rights control. The entries that the proxy user has the right to search and view are returned. For more information, see Chapter 6, Directory Server Access Control, in Administrator's Guide for Oracle Directory Server Enterprise Edition.
Directory Server offers performance and scalability improvements for Access Control Instructions. The improvements include better memory management. The improvements also include support for macro ACIs. Improvements notwithstanding, Directory Server uses significant system resources to evaluate complex ACIs. Extensive use of complex ACIs can therefore negatively impact performance.
Macro ACIs help you limit the number of ACIs used. By limiting the number of ACIs, you render access control easier to manage and reduce the load on the system. Macros are placeholders that represent a DN, or a portion of a DN, in an ACI. A macro can be used in an ACI target, in an ACI bind rule, or in both. When Directory Server receives a request, it checks which ACI macros match against the resource targeted for the resulting operation. If a macro matches, Directory Server replaces it with the value of the actual DN. Directory Server then evaluates the ACI normally.
Testing has demonstrated that a Directory Server instance can support more than 50,000 ACIs. Nevertheless, keep the number of ACIs as small as possible. Keeping the number of ACIs small limits negative impact on performance. Keeping the number small also reduces the complexity of managing access controls. For deployments involving complex ACI environments, consider using Directory Proxy Server to provide some access control features.
Authentication is the process of confirming an identity. In network interactions, authentication involves the confident identification of one party by another party. Network interactions typically take place between a client, such as browser software running on a personal computer, and a server, such as the software and hardware used to host a Web site. Client authentication refers to the confident identification of a client by a server; server authentication refers to the confident identification of a server by a client.
For information about authentication, see the following sections:
Anonymous access lets a user bind to the directory without providing authentication credentials. With access control, you can give anonymous users whatever privileges you choose. Often, anonymous users are allowed to read non-sensitive data from the directory, such as names, telephone numbers, and email addresses.
You can also restrict the privileges of anonymous access, or limit anonymous access to a subset of attributes that contain address book information. Anonymous access should not be allowed for sensitive data.
In cases where anonymous users have access to something, you may want to prevent users who fail to bind properly nevertheless being granted access as anonymous. See the
require-bind-pwd-enabled in server for more information.
Simple password authentication offers an easy way of authenticating users. In password authentication, the user must supply a password for each server, and the administrator must keep track of the name and password for each user, typically on separate servers.
Figure 5-1 shows the steps involved in authenticating a client by using a name and password. The figure assumes the following points.
The user has already decided to trust the system, either without authentication, or on the basis of server authentication via SSL.
The user has requested a resource controlled by the server.
The server requires client authentication before permitting access to the requested resource.
Figure 5-1 Password-Based Authentication
In Figure 5-1, password authentication is performed in the following steps.
The user enters a name and password.
For the LDAP bind to Directory Server, the client application must bind with a Distinguished Name. Therefore the client application may use the name entered by the user to retrieve the DN.
The client sends the DN and password across the network.
The server determines whether the password sent from the client matches the password stored for the entry with the DN sent from the client.
If so, the server accepts the credentials as evidence authenticating the user identity.
The server determines whether the identified user is permitted to access the requested resource.
If so, the server allows the client to access the resource.
A password policy is a set of rules that govern how passwords are administered in a system. Directory Server supports multiple password policies. The password policy can be configured to suit the security requirements of your deployment.
Instances of Directory Server are created with a default password policy.
Directory Server provides the following password policies.
The default password policy is defined in the configuration entry
cn=PasswordPolicy,cn=config. The default password policy applies to all accounts in the directory except for the directory manager.
The parameters of the default policy can be modified to override the default settings. However, because the default password policy is part of the configuration for the instance, modifications to the default password policy cannot be replicated.
A password policy can be configured for an individual user or for set of users by using the CoS and roles features. However, specialized password policies can not be applied to static groups.
A specialized password policy is defined in a subentry in the directory tree. Like the default password policy, the specialized password policy uses the
pwdPolicy object class. For example, the following entry defines a specialized password policy:
dn: cn=TempPolicy,dc=example,dc=com objectClass: top objectClass: pwdPolicy objectClass: LDAPsubentry cn: TempPolicy pwdCheckQuality: 2 pwdLockout: on pwdLockoutDuration: 300 pwdMaxFailure: 3 pwdMustChange: on
A specialized password policy can be assigned to a single user account or can be assigned to a set of users by using roles. For example, in the following entry the password policy defined in
cn=TempPolicy,dc=example,dc=com is assigned to the
pwdPolicySubentry attribute of the user entry:
dn: uid=dmiller,ou=people,dc=example,dc=com objectClasaccess controls: person objectClass: top sn: miller cn: david userPassword: secret12 pwdPolicySubentry: cn=TempPolicy,dc=example,dc=com
When referenced by a user entry, a specialized password policy overrides the default password policy.
Because specialized password policies are defined the directory data, they can be replicated.
For information about how to configure password policy, see Chapter 7, Directory Server Password Policy, in Administrator's Guide for Oracle Directory Server Enterprise Edition.
For information about the attributes used to configure password policies, see the pwpolicy man page.
Proxy authorization allows requests from clients to be processed with a proxy identity instead of the identity of the client. A client, binding with its own identity is granted, through proxy authorization, the rights of a proxy user. The Access Control Instructions (ACIs) of the proxy user, not the ACIs of the client, are evaluated to allow or deny the operation.
Before performing an operation with proxy authorization, the account of the proxy user is validated. If the proxy user account is locked out, inactivated, if the password has been reset or has expired the client operation is aborted.
By using proxy authorization, an LDAP application can use a single bind to service multiple users who are making requests against Directory Server. Instead of having to bind and authenticate for each user, the client application binds to Directory Server and uses proxy rights.
The following conditions must be satisfied in order to use proxy authorization:
The Directory Server must be configured with appropriate ACIs for the proxy identity.
For example, the following ACI gives the administrator the
ALL access right:
aci: (targetattr="*") (version 3.0; acl "allowAll-Admin"; allow (all) userdn="ldap:///uid=Administrator, ou=Administrators, dc=example,dc=com";)
The Directory Server must be configured with permission for proxy identity to act as the proxy for other users.
For example, the following ACI gives the administrator the right to act as the proxy for the user
aci: (targetattr="*") (version 3.0; acl "allowproxy- accountingsoftware"; allow (proxy) userdn= "ldap:///dn:uid=ClientApplication,ou=Applications, dc=example,dc=com";)
The following sample shows the user
ClientApplication performing a search operation by using the
Administrator proxy identity:
$ ldapsearch \ -D "uid=ClientApplication,ou=Applications,dc=example,dc=com" \ -w password \ -y "uid=Administrator,ou=Administrators,dc=example,dc=com" ...
Note that the client binds as itself, but is granted the privileges of the proxy entry. The client does not need the password of the proxy entry.
Proxy rights can be granted to any user except the Directory Manager.
For information about how to configure proxy authorization, see Proxy Authorization in Administrator's Guide for Oracle Directory Server Enterprise Edition.
A user account or a set of accounts can be inactivated temporarily or indefinitely by using the
dsutil account-inactivate command. See dsutil.
When the account is inactivated, the user cannot bind to Directory Server. This feature is called account inactivation.
User accounts and roles can be inactivated. When a role is inactivated, the members of the role are inactivated, not the role itself.
For information about how to configure account inactivation, see Manually Locking Accounts in Administrator's Guide for Oracle Directory Server Enterprise Edition.
Depending on the password policy settings, a client account can be locked out of an account when the number of failed bind attempts exceeds the number of allowed bind attempts. In a replicated topology the client is locked out of all instances of Directory Server, not just the instance to which the client was attempting to bind. This feature is called global account lockout.
In versions of Directory Server prior to Directory Server 6, account lockout was based on integer counters. By default, these counters were not replicated.
In this version of the product, bind failures are recorded by using timestamps. By default, the timestamps are replicated, and prioritized replication is used to replicate updates to the lockout data that are caused by failed bind requests.
Global account lockout can be used in the following scenarios:
When replication is used to propagate bind failures
Bind requests must not be directed to read-only consumers. When a client fails to bind to a read-only consumer, the lockout data is not replicated. Therefore, if a bind request fails on a read-only consumer, the lockout data is updated on that instance only and is not replicated across the topology.
Even if all bind attempts are directed at master replicas, the client might be able to perform bind attempts on multiple servers faster than the lockout data can be replicated. In this way, a client can exceed the limit on failed bind attempts for the password policy. Note that this risk is present even though bind failures are replicated by using prioritized replication.
When Directory Proxy Server manages the routing of bind operations
The Directory Proxy Server can achieve global account lockout by using the hash algorithm for load-balancing to route all bind requests for a given account to the same Directory Server. For information about using the hash algorithm for global account lockout, see Operational Affinity Algorithm for Global Account Lockout.
For information about client authentication with certificates, see the following sections:
Figure 5-2 shows how certificates and the SSL protocol are used together for authentication. To authenticate a user to a server, a client digitally signs a randomly generated piece of data and sends both the certificate and the signed data across the network. For the purposes of this discussion, the digital signature associated with some data can be thought of as evidence provided by the client to the server. The server authenticates the user's identity on the strength of this evidence.
Like for password-based authentication illustrated in Figure 5-1, Figure 5-2 assumes that the user has already decided to trust the server and has requested a resource. The server has requested client authentication in the process of evaluating whether to grant access to the requested resource.
Figure 5-2 Certificate-Based Authentication
Unlike for password-based authentication illustrated in Figure 5-1, Figure 5-2 requires the use of SSL. In Figure 5-2 it is assumed that the client has a valid certificate that can be used to identify the client to the server.
Certificate-based authentication is generally considered preferable to password-based authentication because it is based on what the user has, the private key, as well as what the user knows, the password that protects the private key. However, it's important to note that these two assumptions are true only if unauthorized personnel have not gained access to the user's machine or password, the password for the client software's private key database has been set, and the software is set up to request the password at reasonably frequent intervals.
Neither password-based authentication nor certificate-based authentication address security issues related to physical access to individual machines or passwords. Public-key cryptography can only verify that a private key used to sign some data corresponds to the public key in a certificate. It is the user's responsibility to protect a machine's physical security and to keep the private-key password secret.
Certificates replace the authentication portion of the interaction between the client and the server. Instead of requiring a user to send passwords across the network throughout the day, single sign-on requires the user to enter the private-key database password just once, without sending it across the network. For the rest of the session, the client presents the user's certificate to authenticate the user to each new server it encounters. Existing authorization mechanisms based on the authenticated user identity are not affected.
A certificate is an electronic document that identifies an individual, a server, a company, or some other entity. A certificate also associates that identity with a public key. Like a driver's license, a passport, or other commonly used personal IDs, a certificate provides generally recognized proof of someone's or something's identity.
Certificate authorities, CAs, validate identities and issue certificates. CAs can be independent third parties or organizations that run their own certificate-issuing server software. The methods used to validate an identity vary depending on the policies of a given CA. In general, before issuing a certificate, the CA must use its published verification procedures for that type of certificate to ensure that an entity requesting a certificate is in fact who it claims to be.
A certificate issued by a CA binds a particular public key to the name of the entity the certificate identifies, such as the name of an employee or a server. Certificates help prevent the use of fake public keys for impersonation. Only the public key certified by the certificate works with the corresponding private key possessed by the entity identified by the certificate.
In addition to a public key, a certificate always includes the name of the entity it identifies, an expiration date, the name of the CA that issued the certificate, a serial number, and other information. Most importantly, a certificate always includes the digital signature of the issuing CA. The CA's digital signature allows the certificate to function as a "letter of introduction" for users who know and trust the CA but don't know the entity identified by the certificate.
Any client or server software that supports certificates maintains a collection of trusted CA certificates. These CA certificates determine which other certificates the software can validate, in other words, which issuers of certificates the software can trust. In the simplest case, the software can validate only certificates issued by one of the CAs for which it has a certificate. It's also possible for a trusted CA certificate to be part of a chain of CA certificates, each issued by the CA above it in a certificate hierarchy.
For information about CAs, see the following sections:
In large organizations, it may be appropriate to delegate the responsibility for issuing certificates to several different certificate authorities. For example, the number of certificates required may be too large for a single CA to maintain; different organizational units may have different policy requirements; or it may be important for a CA to be physically located in the same geographic area as the people to whom it is issuing certificates.
It's possible to delegate certificate-issuing responsibilities to subordinate CAs. The X.509 standard includes a model for setting up a hierarchy of CAs.
Figure 5-3 Hierarchy of Certificate Authorities
In this model, the root CA is at the top of the hierarchy. The root CA's certificate is a self-signed certificate. That is, the certificate is digitally signed by the same entity, the root CA, that the certificate identifies. The CAs that are directly subordinate to the root CA have CA certificates signed by the root CA. CAs under the subordinate CAs in the hierarchy have their CA certificates signed by the higher-level subordinate CAs.
Organizations have a great deal of flexibility in terms of the way they set up their CA hierarchies. Figure 5-3 shows just one example; many other arrangements are possible.
CA hierarchies are reflected in certificate chains. A certificate chain is a series of certificates issued by successive CAs. Figure 5-4 shows a certificate chain leading from a certificate that identifies some entity through two subordinate CA certificates to the CA certificate for the root CA (based on the CA hierarchy shown in the following figure).
Figure 5-4 Certificate Chain
A certificate chain traces a path of certificates from a branch in the hierarchy to the root of the hierarchy. In a certificate chain, the following occur:
Each certificate is followed by the certificate of its issuer.
In Figure 5-4, the Engineering CA certificate contains the DN of the CA (that is, USA CA), that issued that certificate. USA CA's DN is also the subject name of the next certificate in the chain.
Each certificate is signed with the private key of its issuer. The signature can be verified with the public key in the issuer's certificate, which is the next certificate in the chain.
In Figure 5-4, the public key in the certificate for the USA CA can be used to verify the USA CA's digital signature on the certificate for the Engineering CA.
Certificate chain verification is the process of making sure a given certificate chain is well-formed, valid, properly signed, and trustworthy. Directory Server software uses the following steps to form and verify a certificate chain, starting with the certificate being presented for authentication:
The certificate validity period is checked against the current time provided by the verifier's system clock.
The issuer's certificate is located. The source can be either the verifier's local certificate database (on that client or server) or the certificate chain provided by the subject (for example, over an SSL connection).
The certificate signature is verified using the public key in the issuer certificate.
If the issuer's certificate is trusted by the verifier in the verifier's certificate database, verification stops successfully here. Otherwise, the issuer's certificate is checked to make sure it contains the appropriate subordinate CA indication in the Directory Server certificate type extension, and chain verification returns to step 1 to start again, but with this new certificate.
Figure 5-5 Verifying A Certificate Chain
Figure 5-5 shows what happens when only Root CA is included in the verifier's local database. If a certificate for one of the intermediate CAs shown in Figure 5-6, such as Engineering CA, is found in the verifier's local database, verification stops with that certificate, as shown in the following figure.
Figure 5-6 Verifying A Certificate Chain to an Intermediate CA
Expired validity dates, an invalid signature, or the absence of a certificate for the issuing CA at any point in the certificate chain causes authentication to fail. For example, the following figure shows how verification fails if neither the Root CA certificate nor any of the intermediate CA certificates are included in the verifier's local database.
Figure 5-7 Certificate Chain That Cannot Be Verified
For general information about the way digital signatures work, see Digital Signatures.
Directory Server uses the following types of certificate:
Client SSL certificates are used to identify clients to servers via SSL (client authentication). Typically, the identity of the client is assumed to be the same as the identity of a human being, such as an employee in an enterprise. Client SSL certificates can also be used for form signing and as part of a single sign-on solution.
For example, a bank gives a customer a client SSL certificate that allows the bank's servers to identify that customer and authorize access to the customer's accounts. A company might give a new employee a client SSL certificate that allows the company's servers to identify that employee and authorize access to the company's servers.
Server SSL certificates are used to identify servers to clients via SSL (server authentication). Server authentication may be used with or without client authentication. Server authentication is a requirement for an encrypted SSL session.
For example, internet sites that engage in electronic commerce usually support certificate-based server authentication, at a minimum, to establish an encrypted SSL session and to assure customers that they are dealing with a web site identified with a particular company. The encrypted SSL session ensures that personal information sent over the network, such as credit card numbers, cannot easily be intercepted.
S/MIME certificates are used for signed and encrypted email. As with client SSL certificates, the identity of the client is typically assumed to be the same as the identity of a human being, such as an employee in an enterprise. A single certificate may be used as both an S/MIME certificate and an SSL certificate. S/MIME certificates can also be used for form signing and as part of a single sign-on solution.
For example, a company deploys combined S/MIME and SSL certificates solely for the purpose of authenticating employee identities, thus permitting signed email and client SSL authentication but not encrypted email. Another company issues S/MIME certificates solely for the purpose of both signing and encrypting email that deals with sensitive financial or legal matters.
For example, a software company signs software distributed over the Internet to provide users with some assurance that the software is a legitimate product of that company. Using certificates and digital signatures in this manner can also make it possible for users to identify and control the kind of access downloaded software has to their computers.
CA certificates are used to identify CAs. Client and server software use CA certificates to determine what other certificates can be trusted.
For example, the CA certificates stored in client software determine what other certificates that client can authenticate. An administrator can implement some aspects of corporate security policies by controlling the CA certificates stored in each user's client.
The contents of certificates supported by Directory Server and many other software companies are organized according to the X.509 v3 certificate specification, which has been recommended by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an international standards body, since 1988. Examples in this section show samples of the data and signature sections of a certificate.
Every X.509 certificate consists of the following sections.
A data section, including the following information.
The version number of the X.509 standard supported by the certificate.
The certificate's serial number. Every certificate issued by a CA has a serial number that is unique among the certificates issued by that CA.
Information about the user's public key, including the algorithm used and a representation of the key itself.
The DN of the CA that issued the certificate.
The period during which the certificate is valid (for example, between 1:00 p.m. on November 15, 2003 and 1:00 p.m. November 15, 2004).
The DN of the certificate subject (for example, in a client SSL certificate this would be the user's DN), also called the subject name.
Optional certificate extensions, which may provide additional data used by the client or server. For example, the certificate type extension indicates the type of certificate—that is, whether it is a client SSL certificate, a server SSL certificate, a certificate for signing email, and so on. Certificate extensions can also be used for a variety of other purposes.
A signature section, includes the following information.
The cryptographic algorithm, or cipher, used by the issuing CA to create its own digital signature.
The CA's digital signature, obtained by hashing all of the data in the certificate together and encrypting it with the CA's private key.
Example 5-1 Data and Signature Sections of a Certificate in Human-Readable Format
Certificate: Data: Version: v3 (0x2) Serial Number: 3 (0x3) Signature Algorithm: PKCS #1 MD5 With RSA Encryption Issuer: OU=Certificate Authority, O=Example Industry, C=US Validity: Not Before: Fri Oct 17 18:36:25 2003 Not After: Sun Oct 17 18:36:25 2004 Subject: CN=Jane Doe, OU=Finance, O=Example Industry, C=US Subject Public Key Info: Algorithm: PKCS #1 RSA Encryption Public Key: Modulus: 00:ca:fa:79:98:8f:19:f8:d7:de:e4:49:80:48:e6:2a:2a:86: ed:27:40:4d:86:b3:05:c0:01:bb:50:15:c9:de:dc:85:19:22: 43:7d:45:6d:71:4e:17:3d:f0:36:4b:5b:7f:a8:51:a3:a1:00: 98:ce:7f:47:50:2c:93:36:7c:01:6e:cb:89:06:41:72:b5:e9: 73:49:38:76:ef:b6:8f:ac:49:bb:63:0f:9b:ff:16:2a:e3:0e: 9d:3b:af:ce:9a:3e:48:65:de:96:61:d5:0a:11:2a:a2:80:b0: 7d:d8:99:cb:0c:99:34:c9:ab:25:06:a8:31:ad:8c:4b:aa:54: 91:f4:15 Public Exponent: 65537 (0x10001) Extensions: Identifier: Certificate Type Critical: no Certified Usage: SSL Client Identifier: Authority Key Identifier Critical: no Key Identifier: f2:f2:06:59:90:18:47:51:f5:89:33:5a:31:7a:e6:5c:fb:36: 26:c9 Signature: Algorithm: PKCS #1 MD5 With RSA Encryption Signature: 6d:23:af:f3:d3:b6:7a:df:90:df:cd:7e:18:6c:01:69:8e:54:65:fc:06: 30:43:34:d1:63:1f:06:7d:c3:40:a8:2a:82:c1:a4:83:2a:fb:2e:8f:fb: f0:6d:ff:75:a3:78:f7:52:47:46:62:97:1d:d9:c6:11:0a:02:a2:e0:cc: 2a:75:6c:8b:b6:9b:87:00:7d:7c:84:76:79:ba:f8:b4:d2:62:58:c3:c5: b6:c1:43:ac:63:44:42:fd:af:c8:0f:2f:38:85:6d:d6:59:e8:41:42:a5: 4a:e5:26:38:ff:32:78:a1:38:f1:ed:dc:0d:31:d1:b0:6d:67:e9:46:a8: d:c4
Example 5-2 Certificate In the 64-Byte Encoded Form Interpreted by Software
-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE----- MIICKzCCAZSgAwIBAgIBAzANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQQFADA3MQswCQYDVQQGEwJVUzER MA8GA1UEChMITmV0c2NhcGUxFTATBgNVBAsTDFN1cHJpeWEncyBDQTAeFw05NzEw MTgwMTM2MjVaFw05OTEwMTgwMTM2MjVaMEgxCzAJBgNVBAYTAlVTMREwDwYDVQQK EwhOZXRzY2FwZTENMAsGA1UECxMEUHViczEXMBUGA1UEAxMOU3Vwcml5YSBTaGV0 dHkwgZ8wDQYJKoZIhvcNAQEFBQADgY0AMIGJAoGBAMr6eZiPGfjX3uRJgEjmKiqG 7SdATYazBcABu1AVyd7chRkiQ31FbXFOGD3wNktbf6hRo6EAmM5/R1AskzZ8AW7L iQZBcrXpc0k4du+2Q6xJu2MPm/8WKuMOnTuvzpo+SGXelmHVChEqooCwfdiZywyZ NMmrJgaoMa2MS6pUkfQVAgMBAAGjNjA0MBEGCWCGSAGG+EIBAQQEAwIAgDAfBgNV HSMEGDAWgBTy8gZZkBhHUfWJM1oxeuZc+zYmyTANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQQFAAOBgQBt I6/z07Z635DfzX4XbAFpjlRl/AYwQzTSYx8GfcNAqCqCwaSDKvsuj/vwbf91o3j3 UkdGYpcd2cYRCgKi4MwqdWyLtpuHAH18hHZ5uvi00mJYw8W2wUOsY0RC/a/IDy84 hW3WWehBUqVK5SY4/zJ4oTjx7dwNMdGwbWfpRqjd1A== -----END CERTIFICATE-----
The set of standards and services that facilitate the use of public-key cryptography and X.509 v3 certificates in a network environment is called thepublic key infrastructure (PKI). For information about the certificate management issues addressed by Directory Server, see the following sections:
The process for issuing a certificate depends on the certificate authority that issues it and the purpose for which it is used. The process for issuing non-digital forms of identification varies in similar ways. For example, if you want to get a generic ID card (not a driver's license) from the Department of Motor Vehicles in California, the requirements are straightforward: you need to present some evidence of your identity, such as a utility bill with your address on it and a student identity card. If you want to get a regular driving license, you also need to take a test — a driving test when you first get the license, and a written test when you renew it. If you want to get a commercial license for an eighteen-wheeler, the requirements are much more stringent. If you live in some other state or country, the requirements for various kinds of licenses differ.
Similarly, different CAs have different procedures for issuing different kinds of certificates. In some cases the only requirement may be your mail address. In other cases, your UNIX login and password may be sufficient. At the other end of the scale, for certificates that identify people who can authorize large expenditures or make other sensitive decisions, the issuing process may require notarized documents, a background check, and a personal interview.
Depending on an organization's policies, the process of issuing certificates can range from being completely transparent for the user to requiring significant user participation and complex procedures. In general, processes for issuing certificates should be highly flexible, so organizations can tailor them to their changing needs.
Issuing certificates is one of several management tasks that can be handled by separate Registration Authorities.
The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) for accessing directory services supports great flexibility in the management of certificates within an organization. System administrators can store much of the information required to manage certificates in an LDAP-compliant directory. For example, a CA can use information in a directory to pre-populate a certificate with a new employee's legal name and other information. The CA can leverage directory information in other ways to issue certificates one at a time or in bulk, using a range of different identification techniques depending on the security policies of a given organization. Other routine management tasks, such as key management and renewing and revoking certificates, can be partially or fully automated with the aid of the directory.
Information stored in the directory can also be used with certificates to control access to various network resources by different users or groups. Issuing certificates and other certificate management tasks can thus be an integral part of user and group management.
Before a certificate can be issued, the public key it contains and the corresponding private key must be generated. Sometimes it may be useful to issue a single person one certificate and key pair for signing operations, and another certificate and key pair for encryption operations. Separate signing and encryption certificates make it possible to keep the private signing key on the local machine only, thus providing maximum non-repudiation, and to back up the private encryption key in some central location where it can be retrieved in case the user loses the original key or leaves the company.
Keys can be generated by client software or generated centrally by the CA and distributed to users via an LDAP directory. There are trade-offs involved in choosing between local and centralized key generation. For example, local key generation provides maximum non-repudiation, but may involve more participation by the user in the issuing process. Flexible key management capabilities are essential for most organizations.
Key recovery, or the ability to retrieve backups of encryption keys under carefully defined conditions, can be a crucial part of certificate management (depending on how an organization uses certificates). Key recovery schemes usually involve an m of n mechanism: for example, m of n managers within an organization might have to agree, and each contribute a special code or key of their own, before a particular person's encryption key can be recovered. This kind of mechanism ensures that several authorized personnel must agree before an encryption key can be recovered.
Like a driver's license, a certificate specifies a period of time during which it is valid. Attempts to use a certificate for authentication before or after its validity period fails. Therefore, mechanisms for managing certificate renewal are essential for any certificate management strategy. For example, an administrator may wish to be notified automatically when a certificate is about to expire, so that an appropriate renewal process can be completed in plenty of time without causing the certificate's subject any inconvenience. The renewal process may involve reusing the same public-private key pair or issuing a new one.
A driver's license can be suspended even if it has not expired—for example, as punishment for a serious driving offense. Similarly, it's sometimes necessary to revoke a certificate before it has expired—for example, if an employee leaves a company or moves to a new job within the company.
Certificate revocation can be handled in several different ways. For some organizations, it may be sufficient to set up servers so that the authentication process includes checking the directory for the presence of the certificate being presented. When an administrator revokes a certificate, the certificate can be automatically removed from the directory, and subsequent authentication attempts with that certificate fails even though the certificate remains valid in every other respect. Another approach involves publishing a certificate revocation list (CRL)—that is, a list of revoked certificates—to the directory at regular intervals and checking the list as part of the authentication process. For some organizations, it may be preferable to check directly with the issuing CA each time a certificate is presented for authentication. This procedure is sometimes called real-time status checking.
Interactions between entities identified by certificates (sometimes called end entities) and CAs are an essential part of certificate management. These interactions include operations such as registration for certification, certificate retrieval, certificate renewal, certificate revocation, and key backup and recovery. In general, a CA must be able to authenticate the identities of end entities before responding to the requests. In addition, some requests need to be approved by authorized administrators or managers before being serviced.
As previously discussed, the means used by different CAs to verify an identity before issuing a certificate can vary widely, depending on the organization and the purpose for which the certificate is used. To provide maximum operational flexibility, interactions with end entities can be separated from the other functions of a CA and handled by a separate service called a Registration Authority RA.
An RA acts as a front end to a CA by receiving end entity requests, authenticating them, and forwarding them to the CA. After receiving a response from the CA, the RA notifies the end entity of the results. RAs can be helpful in scaling a PKI across different departments, geographical areas, or other operational units with varying policies and authentication requirements.
The DIGEST-MD5 mechanism authenticates clients by comparing a hashed value sent by the client with a hash of the user's password. However, because the mechanism must read user passwords, all users wishing to be authenticated through DIGEST-MD5 must have clear text passwords in the directory.
GSSAPI is available on the Solaris Operating System only. The General Security Services API (GSSAPI) allows Directory Server to interact with the Kerberos V5 security system to identify a user. The client application must present its credentials to the Kerberos system, which in turn validates the user's identity to Directory Server.
For information about how to configure SASL-based authentication, see Configuring Credential Levels and Authentication Methods in Administrator's Guide for Oracle Directory Server Enterprise Edition.
For information about how Directory Server encrypts data, see the following sections:
SSL provides encrypted communications and optional authentication between a Directory Server and its clients. SSL can be used over LDAP or DSML over HTTP. SSL is enabled by default over LDAP and can be enabled for DSML over HTTP.
Replication can be configured to use SSL for secure communications between servers. When replication is configured to use SSL, data sent to and from the server is encrypted by using SSL.
By default, Directory Server allows simultaneous unsecured and secure communications, suing different port numbers. Unsecured LDAP communications are handled on one port, conventionally port number 389. Secure LDAP communications are handled on another port, conventionally port number 636.
For security reasons, you can also restrict all communications to the secure port. Client authentication is also configurable. You can set client authentication to required or allowed. This setting determines the level of security you enforce.
SSL enables support for the Start TLS extended operation that provides security on a regular LDAP connection. Clients can bind to the non-SSL port and then use the Transport Layer Security protocol to initiate an SSL connection. The Start TLS operation allows more flexibility for clients, and can help simplify port allocation.
For information about SSL, see the following sections:
TCP/IP governs the transport and routing of data over the Internet. Other protocols, such as the HTTP, LDAP, or IMAP use TCP/IP to support typical application tasks such as displaying web pages or running mail servers.
Figure 5-8 Where SSL Runs
The SSL protocol runs above TCP/IP and below higher-level protocols such as HTTP or IMAP. It uses TCP/IP on behalf of the higher-level protocols, and in the process allows an SSL-enabled server to authenticate itself to an SSL-enabled client, allows the client to authenticate itself to the server, and allows both machines to establish an encrypted connection.
SSL addresses the following concerns about communication over the Internet and other TCP/IP networks:
SSL-enabled client software can use standard techniques of public-key cryptography to check that a server's certificate and public ID are valid and have been issued by a certificate authority (CA) listed in the client's list of trusted CAs. This confirmation might be important if the user, for example, is sending a credit card number over the network and wants to check the receiving server's identity.
Using the same techniques as those used for server authentication, SSL-enabled server software can check that a client's certificate and public ID are valid and have been issued by a certificate authority (CA) listed in the server's list of trusted CAs. This confirmation might be important if the server, for example, is a bank sending confidential financial information to a customer and wants to check the recipient's identity.
Confidentiality is important for both parties to any private transaction. In addition, all data sent over an encrypted SSL connection is protected with a mechanism for detecting tampering—that is, for automatically determining whether the data has been altered in transit.
The SSL protocol includes two sub-protocols: the SSL record protocol and the SSL handshake protocol.
The SSL record protocol defines the format used to transmit data. The SSL handshake protocol involves using the SSL record protocol to exchange a series of messages between an SSL-enabled server and an SSL-enabled client when they first establish an SSL connection. This exchange of messages is designed to facilitate the following actions:
Authenticate the server to the client.
Allow the client and server to select the cryptographic algorithms, or ciphers, that they both support.
Optionally authenticate the client to the server.
Use public-key encryption techniques to generate shared secrets.
Establish an encrypted SSL connection.
For more information about the handshake process, see SSL Handshake.
Cipher suites define the following aspects of SSL communication:
The key exchange Algorithm
The encryption cipher
The encryption cipher key length
The message authentication method
The SSL protocol supports many ciphers. Clients and servers can support different cipher suites, depending on factors such as the version of SSL they support, and company policies regarding acceptable encryption strength. The SSL handshake protocol determines how the server and client negotiate which cipher suites they use to authenticate each other, to transmit certificates, and to establish session keys.
SSL 2.0 and SSL 3.0 protocols support overlapping sets of cipher suites. Administrators can enable or disable any of the supported cipher suites for both clients and servers. When a client and server exchange information during the SSL handshake, they identify the strongest enabled cipher suites they have in common and use those for the SSL session. Decisions about which cipher suites to enable depend on the sensitivity of the data involved, the speed of the cipher, and the applicability of export rules.
Key-exchange algorithms like KEA and RSA govern the way in which a server and client determine the symmetric keys they use during an SSL session. The most commonly used SSL cipher suites use the RSA key exchange.
The list of ciphers enabled for Directory Server, and also the list of ciphers supported by Directory Server can be obtained with the
dsconf command. For information about using the
dsconf command to list available ciphers and manage ciphers, see Choosing Encryption Ciphers in Administrator's Guide for Oracle Directory Server Enterprise Edition.
Support for ciphers is provided by the Network Security Services, NSS, component. For details about NSS, see theNSS project site (
The SSL protocol uses a combination of public-key and symmetric key encryption. Symmetric key encryption is much faster than public-key encryption, but public-key encryption provides better authentication techniques. An SSL session always begins with an exchange of messages called the SSL handshake. The handshake allows the server to authenticate itself to the client by using public-key techniques, and then allows the client and the server to cooperate in the creation of symmetric keys used for rapid encryption, decryption, and tamper detection. Optionally, the handshake also allows the client to authenticate itself to the server.
For information about the SSL handshake, see the following sections:
The following steps describes the sequence of messages exchanged during an SSL handshake. These step describe the programmatic details of the messages exchanged during the SSL handshake.
The client sends the server the client's SSL version number, cipher settings, randomly generated data, and other information the server needs to communicate with the client using SSL.
The server sends the client the server's SSL version number, cipher settings, randomly generated data, and other information the client needs to communicate with the server over SSL. The server also sends its own certificate and, if the client is requesting a server resource that requires client authentication, requests the client's certificate.
The client can use some of the information sent by the server to authenticate the server. For details, see Server Authentication During SSL Handshake. If the server cannot be authenticated, the user is warned of the problem and informed that an encrypted and authenticated connection cannot be established. If the server can be successfully authenticated, the client goes on to Step 4.
Using all data generated in the handshake so far, the client, with the cooperation of the server, depending on the cipher being used, creates the pre-master secret for the session, encrypts it with the server's public key, obtained from the server's certificate, sent in Step 2, and sends the encrypted pre-master secret to the server.
If the server has requested client authentication (an optional step in the handshake), the client also signs another piece of data that is unique to this handshake and known by both the client and server. In this case the client sends both the signed data and the client's own certificate to the server along with the encrypted pre-master secret.
If the server has requested client authentication, the server attempts to authenticate the client. For details, see Server Authentication During SSL Handshake. If the client cannot be authenticated, the session is terminated. If the client can be successfully authenticated, the server uses its private key to decrypt the pre-master secret, then performs a series of steps (which the client also performs, starting from the same pre-master secret) to generate the master secret.
Both the client and the server use the master secret to generate the session keys, which are symmetric keys used to encrypt and decrypt information exchanged during the SSL session and to verify its integrity—that is, to detect changes in the data between the time it was sent and the time it is received over the SSL connection.
The client sends a message to the server informing it that future messages from the client are encrypted with the session key. It then sends a separate (encrypted) message indicating that the client portion of the handshake is finished.
The server sends a message to the client informing it that future messages from the server are encrypted with the session key. It then sends a separate (encrypted) message indicating that the server portion of the handshake is finished.
The SSL handshake is now complete, and the SSL session has begun. The client and the server use the session keys to encrypt and decrypt the data they send to each other and to validate its integrity.
Before continuing with a session, directory servers can be configured to check that the client's certificate is present in the user's entry in an LDAP directory. This configuration option provides one way of ensuring that the client's certificate has not been revoked.
Both client and server authentication involve encrypting some piece of data with one key of a public-private key pair and decrypting it with the other key:
In the case of server authentication, the client encrypts the pre-master secret with the server's public key. Only the corresponding private key can correctly decrypt the secret, so the client has some assurance that the identity associated with the public key is in fact the server with which the client is connected. Otherwise, the server cannot decrypt the pre-master secret and cannot generate the symmetric keys required for the session, and the session is terminated.
In the case of client authentication, the client encrypts some random data with the client's private key—that is, it creates a digital signature. The public key in the client's certificate can correctly validate the digital signature only if the corresponding private key was used. Otherwise, the server cannot validate the digital signature and the session is terminated.
SSL-enabled client software always requires server authentication, or cryptographic validation by a client of the server's identity. The server sends the client a certificate to authenticate itself. The client uses the certificate to authenticate the identity the certificate claims to represent.
To authenticate the binding between a public key and the server identified by the certificate that contains the public key, an SSL-enabled client must receive a
yes answer to the four questions shown in the following figure.
Figure 5-9 Authenticating a Client Certificate During SSL Handshake
An SSL-enabled client goes through the following steps to authenticate a server's identity:
Is today's date within the validity period?
The client checks the server certificate's validity period. If the current date and time are outside of that range, the authentication process won't go any further. If the current date and time are within the certificate's validity period, the client goes on to the next step.
Is the issuing CA a trusted CA?
Each SSL-enabled client maintains a list of trusted CA certificates, represented by the shaded area on the right—hand side of Figure 5-9. This list determines which server certificates the client accepts. If the distinguished name (DN) of the issuing CA matches the DN of a CA on the client's list of trusted CAs, the answer to this question is yes, and the client goes on to the next step. If the issuing CA is not on the list, the server is not authenticated unless the client can verify a certificate chain ending in a CA that is on the list.
Does the issuing CA's public key validate the issuer's digital signature?
The client uses the public key from the CA's certificate (which it found in its list of trusted CAs in step 2) to validate the CA's digital signature on the server certificate being presented. If the information in the server certificate has changed since it was signed by the CA or if the CA certificate's public key doesn't correspond to the private key used by the CA to sign the server certificate, the client won't authenticate the server's identity. If the CA's digital signature can be validated, the server treats the user's certificate as a valid "letter of introduction" from that CA and proceeds. At this point, the client has determined that the server certificate is valid.
Does the domain name in the server's certificate match the domain name of the server itself?
This step confirms that the server is actually located at the same network address specified by the domain name in the server certificate. Although step 4 is not technically part of the SSL protocol, it provides the only protection against a form of security attack known as man-in-the-middle. Clients must perform this step and must refuse to authenticate the server or establish a connection if the domain names don't match. If the server's actual domain name matches the domain name in the server certificate, the client goes on to the next step.
The server is authenticated.
The client proceeds with the SSL handshake. If the client doesn't get to step 5 for any reason, the server identified by the certificate cannot be authenticated, and the user is warned of the problem and informed that an encrypted and authenticated connection cannot be established. If the server requires client authentication, the server performs the steps described in Client Authentication During SSL Handshake.
After the steps described here, the server must successfully use its private key to decrypt the pre-master secret sent by the client.
The man-in-the-middle is a rogue program that intercepts all communication between the client and a server with which the client is attempting to communicate via SSL. The rogue program intercepts the legitimate keys that are passed back and forth during the SSL handshake, substitutes its own, and makes it appear to the client that it is the server, and to the server that it is the client.
The encrypted information exchanged at the beginning of the SSL handshake is actually encrypted with the rogue program's public key or private key, rather than the client's or server's real keys. The rogue program ends up establishing one set of session keys for use with the real server, and a different set of session keys for use with the client. This allows the rogue program not only to read all the data that flows between the client and the real server, but also to change the data without being deleted. Therefore, it is extremely important for the client to check that the domain name in the server certificate corresponds to the domain name of the server with which a client is attempting to communicate—in addition to checking the validity of the certificate by performing the other steps described in Server Authentication During SSL Handshake
SSL-enabled servers can be configured to require client authentication, or cryptographic validation by the server of the client's identity. When a server configured this way requests client authentication separate piece of digitally signed data to authenticate itself. The server uses the digitally signed data to validate the public key in the certificate and to authenticate the identity the certificate claims to represent.
The SSL protocol requires the client to create a digital signature by creating a one-way hash from data generated randomly during the handshake and known only to the client and server. The hash of the data is then encrypted with the private key that corresponds to the public key in the certificate being presented to the server.
To authenticate the binding between the public key and the person or other entity identified by the certificate that contains the public key, an SSL-enabled server must receive a
yes answer to the first four questions shown in Figure 5-10. Although the fifth question is not part of the SSL protocol, directory servers can be configured to support this requirement to take advantage of the user entry in an LDAP directory as part of the authentication process.
Figure 5-10 Authentication and Verification During SSL Handshake
An SSL-enabled server goes through the following steps to authenticate a user's identity:
Does the user's public key validate the user's digital signature?
The server checks that the user's digital signature can be validated with the public key in the certificate. If so, the server has established that the public key asserted to belong to John Doe matches the private key used to create the signature and that the data has not been tampered with since it was signed.
At this point, however, the binding between the public key and the DN specified in the certificate has not yet been established. The certificate might have been created by someone attempting to impersonate the user. To validate the binding between the public key and the DN, the server must also complete steps 3 and 4 in this list.
Is today's date within the validity period?
The server checks the certificate's validity period. If the current date and time are outside of that range, the authentication process won't go any further. If the current date and time are within the certificate's validity period, the server goes onto the next step.
Is the issuing CA a trusted CA?
Each SSL-enabled server maintains a list of trusted CA certificates, represented by the shaded area on the right—hand side of Figure 5-10. This list determines which certificates the server accepts. If the DN of the issuing CA matches the DN of a CA on the server's list of trusted CAs, the answer to this question is yes, and the server goes on to the next step. If the issuing CA is not on the list, the client is not authenticated unless the server can verify a certificate chain ending in a CA that is trusted or not trusted within their organizations by controlling the lists of CA certificates maintained by clients and servers.
Does the issuing CA's public key validate the issuer's digital signature?
The server uses the public key from the CA's certificate (which it found in its list of trusted CAs in the previous step) to validate the CA's digital signature on the certificate being presented. If the information in the certificate has changed since it was signed by the CA or if the public key in the CA certificate doesn't correspond to the private key used by the CA to sign the certificate, the server won't authenticate the user's identity. If the CA's digital signature can be validated, the server treats the user's certificate as a valid "letter of introduction" from that CA and proceeds. At this point, the SSL protocol allows the server to consider the client authenticated and proceed with the connection as described in step 6. The directory servers may optionally be configured to perform step 5 before step 6.
Is the user's certificate listed in the LDAP entry for the user?
This optional step provides one way for a system administrator to revoke a user's certificate even if it passes the tests in all the other steps. The Certificate Management System can automatically remove a revoked certificate from the user's entry in the LDAP directory. All servers that are set up to perform this step then refuses to authenticate that certificate or establish a connection. If the user's certificate in the directory is identical to the user's certificate presented in the SSL handshake, the server goes on to the next step.
Is the authenticated client authorized to access the requested resources?
The server checks what resources the client is permitted to access according to the server's access control lists (ACLs) and establishes a connection with appropriate access. If the server doesn't get to step 6 for any reason, the user identified by the certificate cannot be authenticated, and the user is not allowed to access any server resources that require authentication.
Digital signatures can be used by Directory Server to maintain integrity of information. If encryption and message digests are applied to the information being sent, the recipient can determine that the information was not tampered with during transit.
Tamper detection and related authentication techniques rely on a mathematical function called a one-way hash. This function is also called a message digest. A one-way hash is a number of fixed length with the following characteristics:
The value of the hash is unique for the hashed data. Any change in the data, even deleting or altering a single character, results in a different value.
The content of the hashed data cannot, for all practical purposes, be deduced from the hash — which is why it is called one-way.
It is possible to use a private key for encryption and a public key for decryption. Although this is not desirable when you are encrypting sensitive information, it is a crucial part of digitally signing any data. Instead of encrypting the data itself, the signing software creates a one-way hash of the data, then uses your private key to encrypt the hash. The encrypted hash, along with other information, such as the hashing algorithm, is known as a digital signature. Figure 5-11 shows two items transferred to the recipient of some signed data.
Figure 5-11 Digital Signatures
In Figure 5-11, the original data and the digital signature, which is basically a one-way hash (of the original data) that has been encrypted with the signer's private key. To validate the integrity of the data, the receiving software first uses the signer's public key to decrypt the hash. It then uses the same hashing algorithm that generated the original hash to generate a new one-way hash of the same data. (Information about the hashing algorithm used is sent with the digital signature, although this isn't shown in the figure.) Finally, the receiving software compares the new hash against the original hash. If the two hashes match, the data has not changed since it was signed. If they don't match, the data may have been tampered with since it was signed, or the signature may have been created with a private key that doesn't correspond to the public key presented by the signer.
If the two hashes match, the recipient can be certain that the public key used to decrypt the digital signature corresponds to the private key used to create the digital signature. Confirming the identity of the signer, however, also requires some way of confirming that the public key really belongs to a particular person or other entity.
The significance of a digital signature is comparable to the significance of a handwritten signature. Once you have signed some data, it is difficult to deny doing so later — assuming that the private key has not been compromised or out of the owner's control. This quality of digital signatures provides a high degree of non-repudiation — that is, digital signatures make it difficult for the signer to deny having signed the data. In some situations, a digital signature may be as legally binding as a handwritten signature.
With most modern cryptography, the ability to keep encrypted information secret is based not on the cryptographic algorithm, which is widely known, but on a key. A key is a number that must be used with the algorithm to produce an encrypted result or to decrypt previously encrypted information. For information about encryption and decryption with keys, see the following sections:
With symmetric-key encryption, the encryption key can be calculated from the decryption key, and vice versa. With most symmetric algorithms, the same key is used for both encryption and decryption. The following figure shows a symmetric-key encryption.
Figure 5-12 Symmetric-Key Encryption
Implementations of symmetric-key encryption can be highly efficient, so that users do not experience any significant time delay as a result of the encryption and decryption. Symmetric-key encryption also provides a degree of authentication, since information encrypted with one symmetric key cannot be decrypted with any other symmetric key. Thus, as long as the symmetric key is kept secret by the two parties using it to encrypt communications, each party can be sure that it is communicating with the other as long as the decrypted messages continue to make sense.
Symmetric-key encryption is effective only if the symmetric key is kept secret by the two parties involved. If anyone else discovers the key, it affects both confidentiality and authentication. A person with an unauthorized symmetric key not only can decrypt messages sent with that key, but can encrypt new messages and send them as if they came from one of the two parties who were originally using the key.
Symmetric-key encryption plays an important role in the SSL protocol, which is widely used for authentication, tamper detection, and encryption over TCP/IP networks. SSL also uses techniques of public-key encryption, which is described in the next section.
The most commonly used implementations of public-key encryption are based on algorithms patented by RSA Data Security. Therefore, this section describes the RSA approach to public-key encryption.
Public-key encryption (also called asymmetric encryption) involves a pair of keys—a public key and a private key—associated with an entity that needs to authenticate its identity electronically or to sign or encrypt data. Each public key is published, and the corresponding private key is kept secret. The following figure shows a simplified view of the way public-key encryption works.
Figure 5-13 Public-Key Encryption
Public—key encryption lets you distribute a public key, and only you can read data encrypted by this key. In general, to send encrypted data to someone, you encrypt the data with that person's public key, and the person receiving the encrypted data decrypts it with the corresponding private key.
Compared with symmetric-key encryption, public-key encryption requires more computation and is therefore not always appropriate for large amounts of data. However, it's possible to use public-key encryption to send a symmetric key, which can then be used to encrypt additional data. This is the approach used by the SSL protocol.
As it happens, the reverse of the scheme shown in Figure 5-13 also works: data encrypted with your private key can be decrypted with your public key only. This would not be a desirable way to encrypt sensitive data, however, because it means that anyone with your public key, which is by definition published, could decrypt the data. Nevertheless, private-key encryption is useful, because it means you can use your private key to sign data with your digital signature—an important requirement for electronic commerce and other commercial applications of cryptography. Client software can then use your public key to confirm that the message was signed with your private key and that it hasn't been tampered with since being signed. Digital Signatures and subsequent sections describe how this confirmation process works.
The strength of encryption is related to the difficulty of discovering the key, which in turn depends on both the cipher used and the length of the key. For example, the difficulty of discovering the key for the RSA cipher most commonly used for public-key encryption depends on the difficulty of factoring large numbers, a well-known mathematical problem.
Encryption strength is often described in terms of the size of the keys used to perform the encryption: in general, longer keys provide stronger encryption. Key length is measured in bits. For example, 128-bit keys for use with the RC4 symmetric-key cipher supported by SSL provide significantly better cryptographic protection than 40-bit keys for use with the same cipher. Roughly speaking, 128-bit RC4 encryption is 3 x 1026 times stronger than 40-bit RC4 encryption.
Different ciphers may require different key lengths to achieve the same level of encryption strength. The RSA cipher used for public-key encryption, for example, can use only a subset of all possible values for a key of a given length, due to the nature of the mathematical problem on which it is based. Other ciphers, such as those used for symmetric key encryption, can use all possible values for a key of a given length, rather than a subset of those values. Thus a 128-bit key for use with a symmetric-key encryption cipher would provide stronger encryption than a 128-bit key for use with the RSA public-key encryption cipher. This difference explains why the RSA public-key encryption cipher must use a 512-bit key (or longer) to be considered cryptographically strong, whereas symmetric key ciphers can achieve approximately the same level of strength with a 64-bit key. Even this level of strength may be vulnerable to attacks in the near future.
Attribute encryption enables sensitive attributes of an entry to be stored in encrypted form. By encrypting sensitive attributes, you can prevent them from being read while the data is stored in database files, backup files, or exported LDIF files, or while the data is exported. Figure 5-14 shows a user entry being added to the database, where attribute encryption has been configured to encrypt the
Figure 5-14 Attribute Encryption
The attribute encryption feature supports a wide range of encryption algorithms and different platforms. Attribute encryption uses the private key of the server's SSL certificate to generate its own key. This key is then used to perform the encryption and decryption operations.
Attribute encryption is configured at the suffix level. This means that an attribute is encrypted for every entry in which it appears in a suffix. To encrypt an attribute in an entire directory, you must enable encryption for that attribute in every suffix.
If you choose to encrypt an attribute that some entries use as a naming attribute, values that appear in the DN will not be encrypted, but values stored in the entry will be encrypted.
userPassword attribute provides no security benefit unless the password needs to be stored in clear text, as is the for DIGEST-MD5 SASL authentication. If the password already has an encryption mechanism defined in the password policy, further encryption provides little additional security.
When encrypted attributes are stored, they are prefaced with a cipher tag that indicates what encryption algorithm has been used. An encrypted attribute using the DES encryption algorithm would appear as follows:
While attribute encryption offers increased data security, the feature does impact performance. you should think carefully about which attributes require encryption and encrypt only those attributes that are particularly sensitive. Because sensitive data can be accessed directly through index files, it is necessary to encrypt the index keys corresponding to the encrypted attributes, to ensure that the attributes are fully protected.
For information about how to encrypt attributes, see Encrypting Attribute Values in Administrator's Guide for Oracle Directory Server Enterprise Edition.