[tor-dev] Special-use-TLD support

Jeff Burdges burdges at gnunet.org
Mon Sep 28 22:19:46 UTC 2015

On Mon, 2015-09-28 at 16:26 -0400, Roger Dingledine wrote:
> On Mon, Sep 28, 2015 at 03:20:47PM +0200, Jeff Burdges wrote:
> > I proposed that Tor implement NameService rules using UNIX domain
> > sockets, or ports, since that's how GNUNet works, but maybe Tor
> > should
> > instead launch a helper application it communicates with via stdin
> > and
> > stdout.  I donno if that'll work well on Windows however.
> If you're to be running a second program that does the "resolves",
> then
> I think you should really think about adding a third program that
> talks
> to Tor on the control port and does all of these rewrites via the
> control
> protocol without needing any further Tor modifications. (If you
> wanted,
> you could make these second and third programs be just one program.)
> This is I believe how Jesse's "OnioNS" tool works at present: you
> connect
> to the control port (e.g. via a Stem script), tell Tor that you want
> to
> decide what to do with each new stream (set __LeaveStreamsUnattached
> to
> 1), and then you let Tor pick (attachstream to 0) for all the streams
> except the special ones. When you see a new special stream, you do
> the
> lookup or resolve or whatever on your side, then REDIRECTSTREAM the
> stream to become the new address, then yield control of the stream
> back
> to Tor so Tor picks a circuit for it.
> The main downside here is that you need to run a new Tor controller.
> But
> if you're already needing to run a separate program, you should be
> all set.
> What am I missing?

Very interesting.  Yes, this sounds reasonable in the short run.  In
the longer run, there are several people with an interest in
externalizing Tor's DNS handling, which changes things.  I'll check out
OnioNS and discuss this with people at the meeting.  

In the mean time, I updated the previous proposal based on comments
here.  Also, I remove the NameSubstitution idea when I remembered

Filename: xxx-special-use-tld-support.txt
Title: Special-Use TLD Support
Author: Jeffrey Burdges
Created: ?? Sept 2015
Status: Draft
Implemented-In: ?


  Suppose Special-Use TLDs in Tor via external Domain Name System (DNS)
  suppliers, such as the GNU Name System and Namecoin.


  Special-use TLD supplier software integrates with the host operating
  system's DNS layer so that other software resolves the special-use
  identically to standard DNS TLDs.  On Linux for example, a Special
  TLD package could create a plugin for the Name Service Switch (NSS)
  subsystem of the GNU C Library.  

  Tor cannot safely use the local system's own DNS for name resolution,
  as doing so risks deanonmizing a user through their DNS queries.  
  Instead Tor does DNS resolution at a circuit's exit relay.  It
  that Tor users cannot currently use special-use TLDs packages in a

  In addition, there are projects to add public key material to DNS,
  TLSA records and DNSSEC, that necessarily go beyond NSS.  


  We denote by N an abstract name service supplier package.
  There are two steps required to integrate N safely with Tor :  

  Of course, N must be modified so as to (a) employ Tor for its own
  traffic and (b) to use Tor in a safe way.  We deem this step outside
  the scope of the present document since it concerns modifications to
  that depend upon N's design.  We caution however that peer-to-peer 
  technologies are famous for sharing unwanted information and
  excessively distinctive traffic profiles, making (b) problematic.
  Another proposal seeks to provide rudimentary tools to assist with

  We shall instead focus on modifying Tor to route some-but-not-all DNS
  queries to N.  For this, we propose a NameService configuration
  that tells Tor where to obtain the DNS record lying under some

  Anytime Tor resolves a DNS name ending in an Special-Use TLD
  in an NameService configuration line then Tor makes an RPC request
  the name record using given UNIX domain socket or address and port.

  We should allow CNAME records to refer to .onion domains, and to 
  regular DNS names, but care must be taken in handling CNAME records
  that refer to Special-Use TLDs handled by NameService lines.
  Tor should reject CNAME records that refer to .exit domains.


  We propose two Tor configuration options :

    NameService [.]<dnspath> <socketspec>
      [noncannonical] [timeout=num]
      [-- service specific options]

  We require that <socketspec> be either the path to a UNIX domain
  or an address of the form IP:port.  We also require that each
  be a string conforming to RFC 952 and RFC 1123 sec. 2.1. 
  In other words, a dnsspec consists of a series of labels separated by
  periods . with each label of up to 63 characters consisting of the 
  letters a-z in a case insensitive manor, the digits 0-9, and the
  hyphen -, but hyphens may not appear at the beginning or end of

  NameService rules route matching queries to appropriate name service
  supplier software.  If a trailing substring of a query matches
  then a query is sent to the <socketspec> using the RPC protocol
  below.  NameService rules are applied only after all MapAddress

  There is no way to know in advance if N handles caching itself, much 
  less if it handles caching in a way suitable for Tor.  
  Ideally, we should demands that N return an appropriate expiration
  time, which  Tor can respect  without harming safety or performance. 
  If this  proves problematic, then configuration options could be
  to adjust Tor's caching behavior.

  Seconds is the unit for the timeout option, which defaults to 60 and
  applies only to the name service supplier lookup.  Tor DNS queries, 
  or attempts to contact .onion addresses, that result from CNAME
  should be given the full timeout allotted to standard Tor DNS
  .onion lookups, etc.

  Any text following -- is passed verbatim to the name service supplier
  as service specific options, according to the RPC protocol described 

Control Protocol

  An equivalent of NameService should be added to the Tor control
  so that multiple users using the same Tor daemon can have different
  resolution rules. 

RPC protocol

  We require an RPC format that communicates two values,
    first any service specific options give on the NameService line, 
    second the query name itself of course.
  We might however discuss if there are any standardized flags,
  from these options, and whether they should be communicated

  In principle, Tor could make due with simply receiving a strong in 
  return.  We recommend however that Tor expect a return format as or 
  more powerful than full DNS queries.  In particular, we should
  to return TLSA records at the same time as the underlying DNS record,
  so that Tor Browser can utilize that key material.  The GNS Record 
  format used by the GNU Name System addresses this and other issues,
  it should be taken as a candidate.  See :

  Sepcial-use tLD suppliers should internally process CNAME records
  fall into their own domains, but they should return CNAME records to
  Tor that refer to .onion or .exit domains, or to normal DNS names. 
  Initially, Tor should issue an error if it receives a CNAME record
  matches an NameService line.  If however that NameService line
  the noncannonical option, then CNAME records should instead bypass
  and use Tor's DNS system.  

  At present, alternative DNS packages should not pass CNAME records
  between themselves, despite speaking the same RPC protocol, as this
  creates unknown risks.  As such forwarding can be done most safely by
  Tor itself, the Tor Project reserves the right to forward CNAME
  between NameService lines in the future.  Applications should
  not depend upon the above error being returned.


  Tor would conceivably benefit from externalizing its own DNS handling
  as a separate process.  This might however require that Tor have the
  ability to start name service suppliers.  A fuller consideration of 
  this might alter our design of the NameService configuration option.


  Based on extensive discussions with Christian Grothoff and George

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