IRTF Report

By: Aaron Falk

Date: June 7, 2009

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Aaron Falk

Aaron Falk, IRTF Chair

What follows are summaries of several updates on the Internet Research Groups (RGs), some of which were reported during the Technical Plenary at IETF 74.

There are three bits of status regarding the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF): First, since IETF 73, the IRTF has not published any new RFCs because of document dependencies that are holding up final establishment of the IRTF RFC publication stream. However, three research group (RG) documents are in the RFC Editor’s queue. Additionally, we are finalising the IRTF streams document rights. Our intent is to maximize commonality with the IETF process so as to ease documents’ ability to move between the IRTF and the IETF.

Second, there has been activity in the form of the creation of two new research groups: a group of folks, organized by Martin Stiemerling, has been holding BarBoFs to discuss an RG on network virtualization, and Paul Hoffman is developing a draft charter for an RG to discuss alternate public key formats, certificates, and services called PKNG.

And third, most of the IRTF RGs are now fairly active. During IETF 74, four RGs met: DTNRG, RRG, P2PRG, and HIPRG. Most research groups meet at least once a year at an IETF meeting, and several meet more frequently by holding additional meetings at such venues as academic conferences to attract greater research participation.

Recently, I’ve been giving a very short overview of a couple active research groups during the IETF technical plenary. This is to introduce folks in the IETF to work going on in the IRTF and to encourage more participation. The following two sections are introductions to the Crypto Forum Research Group and the Routing Research Group, as presented during the IETF 74 technical plenary.

Crypto Forum Research Group (cfrg)

The CFRG is a forum for discussing and analysing general cryptographic aspects of security protocols. One of the main goals is to offer guidance on the use of emerging mechanisms and new uses of existing mechanisms in the tradition of RFC 1321 (MD5) and RFC 2104 (HMAC). Another important goal of the work is to create a bridge between theory and practice.

IETF working groups that are developing protocols that include cryptographic elements are welcome to bring questions concerning the protocols to the CFRG.

The CFRG is currently working on a number of important topics. One involves hash functions, wherein the goal is to transition away from MD5 (and SHA-1). In that context, the CFRG is identifying IETF’s uses and security goals and is discussing reviving and extending RFC 4270 (Attacks on Cryptographic Hashes in Internet Protocols).

Other topics the RG is working on are Password-Authenticated Key Exchange (currently reviewing draft-sheffer-emu-eap-eke-00, “The EAP-EKE Method”?), threshold cryptography (see draft-mcgrew-tss-02, “Threshold Secret Sharing”?), and threshold signatures. The last might be a topic of possible future work and is relevant to Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) and Public-Key Infrastructure (PKIX).

Routing Research Group (rrg)

The RRG is trying to solve the problem of uncontrolled growth of the routing table. One of the major causes of routing-table growth is multihoming. Multihomed sites inject one prefix or multiple prefixes into the routing system. Routing costs increase with the number of multihomed sites.

The primary goal of the RG is to develop a routing architecture that can provide effective control on routing overhead and that is independent from the number of multihomed sites. Another goal is to avoid the need to renumber when changing service providers. A new routing protocol should also be incrementally deployable and possess equal or better security.

The RRG has continued its efforts to sort out and reassess existing proposals. There are currently nine proposals listed on the RRG wiki. One proposal recently posted argues for an evolution path that will lead to a scalable routing architecture. That same proposal was presented during the RRG meeting at IETF 74. The group is also working to clarify the terminology used in routing scalability discussions. RRG originally planned to offer a recommendation by March 2009, but investigation efforts led to new understandings of the problem and solution space, and now that date has been pushed out by one year, to 2010.

Several members of the RRG participated in a seminar called Naming and Addressing for the Future Internet, which was held in Dagstuhl, Germany, in March 2009. (See here)

For more information about the Internet Research Task Force, visit this website.