|author||Christian Grothoff <firstname.lastname@example.org>||2020-11-23 14:40:10 +0100|
|committer||Christian Grothoff <email@example.com>||2020-11-23 14:40:10 +0100|
update to design doc based on discussion with Florian
Diffstat (limited to 'design-documents')
1 files changed, 72 insertions, 17 deletions
diff --git a/design-documents/010-exchange-helpers.rst b/design-documents/010-exchange-helpers.rst
index cf7a4df..9603004 100644
@@ -29,27 +29,61 @@ Requirements
obtained illicitly by the attacker.
* Key management for operators should be simplified to improve usability.
* Both RSA and EdDSA online signing keys need to be protected.
+* We should have a way to verify that the keys signed with the offline
+ master private key are those originating from the isolated
+ (software/hardware) security module.
The private keys are to be created, used and deleted by two helper processes
-running under a different user ID (UID). The exchange's HTTP process will be
-required to interact with those helpers via a UNIX domain socket.
+running under a different user ID (UID), creating in effect a software
+security module. The exchange's HTTP process will be required to interact
+with those helpers via a UNIX domain socket.
-Specific design details:
+General design details:
* The helpers will process requests from the exchange to sign and revoke keys.
-* The helpers will tell the exchange when keys are created or deleted/expired.
+* The helpers will create and destroy the private keys. They will no longer be
+ created on the air-gapped machine with the (offline) master private key.
+ The helpers will tell the exchange when keys are created or deleted/expired.
+* Each helper will sign freshly generated keys with a security module-specific
+ private key. This key will be verified by the offline signing key process
+ using either manual verification against log output from the security
+ module's start-up routine, or via TOFU. TOFU is considered sufficient,
+ as an adversary breaking into the exchange process during the initial setup,
+ when the exchange is not even yet operational because no keys have ever been
+ provisioned, is considered highly unlikely. Depending on how the exchange
+ is initialized, access to security module logs may or may not be feasible,
+ so TOFU is a good and usable alternative strategy.
+Helper design details:
* SOCK_DGRAM will be used to avoid needing to parse a data stream.
* The helpers will only know about (private) key lifetime. They will not know about
details like currency, fee structure, master or auditor signatures.
Those will be managed by the HTTP process to keep the helpers minimal.
-* The exchange will expose the corresponding public keys via a ``/keys?future``
- endpoint to the auditor and the offline signing process. Auditor and master
- signatures will be POSTed to the exchange via the ``/keys`` endpoint.
- The exchange will keep those signatures in the Postgres database.
+* The helpers will use a single-threaded, GNUnet-scheduler-driven event loop
+ to process incoming requests from the UNIX domain sockets. However, the
+ actual signing will be done by a thread pool of workers that only process
+ signing requests from a work queue. Reference counting is used to avoid
+ releasing private keys while workers are actively using them to sign requests.
+* The work queue is managed via a pthread-style semaphore.
+* The master thread is informed about completed work via an ``eventfd()``.
+* The master thread is responsible for handling revocations, creating future
+ private keys and expiring old keys. Revocations will also be triggered
+ via a new ``/keys`` endpoint. The HTTP server will verify that the revocation
+ is properly signed with the master private key before passing it on to the
+ respective helper.
+Exchange design considerations:
+* The helpers are started by the system, say via systemd, not by the
+ exchange. This simplifies the exchange, and we already needed the
+ exchange operator to start four processes to operate an exchange.
+ So this number simply increases to six (not even counting the
+ Postgres database and a reverse HTTP proxy for TLS termination).
* Each exchange thread will create its own connection to the helpers, and will
block while waiting on the helper to create a signature. This keeps the
exchange logic simple and similar to the existing in-line signing calls.
@@ -59,15 +93,27 @@ Specific design details:
fails. Signature operations can also fail if the helper is not running or
responding with incorrect data. However, signature operations do NOT have a
-* The helpers will use a single-threaded, GNUnet-scheduler-driven event loop
- to process incoming requests from the UNIX domain sockets. However, the
- actual signing will be done by a thread pool of workers that only process
- signing requests from a work queue. Reference counting is used to avoid
- releasing private keys while workers are actively using them to sign requests.
-* The work queue is managed via a pthread-style semaphore.
-* The master thread is informed about completed work via an ``eventfd()``.
-* The master thread is responsible for handling revocations, creating future
- private keys and expiring old keys.
+New exchange endpoints:
+* The exchange will expose the corresponding public keys via a GET to
+ ``/keys/future`` endpoint to the offline signing process. For offline
+ signing, tooling will be provided to first download to a file, then
+ sign based on that file, and then upload the resulting signature back to
+ the exchange. For this, master signatures will be POSTed to
+ the exchange to the ``/keys`` endpoint.
+ The exchange will keep those signatures in the Postgres database.
+* A new endpoint (``/auditors``) will also allow adding/removing auditors
+ (POST, DELETE) using requests signed with the offline master private key.
+ Once an auditor has been added, the respective auditor signatures on exchange
+ keys can also be POSTed to the REST API at
+Overall, the result is that except for software updates and the fundamental
+configuration, the ``taler-exchange-http`` will be updated only via HTTP(S)
+and not via a signal and new files appearing in the directory hierarchy.
+All of the more volatile state of the HTTP process will be in the database.
+Only the helpers continue to keep files on disk.
@@ -102,6 +148,11 @@ Alternatives
arising from the use of threads. However, given that signing is expected to
be a bottleneck of the exchange, this would have had serious performance
implications for the entire system.
+* The helpers could have been started by the exchange. This would have
+ required the helpers use SUID. Allowing the system administrator to start
+ them as they see fit is more flexible with respect to the privilege
+ configuration. Also, this avoid forcing the the exchange to manage
+ restarting on crashes and/or crash reporting.
@@ -120,6 +171,10 @@ Drawbacks
* If helper is stopped (SIGSTOP), exchange HTTP will itself block
(no timeout!). Timeout-based mitigation would additionally increase
discrepancies in the count of the number of signatures created.
+* System administrator must not forget to start helpers, otherwise
+ the exchange will not work (This is not a new problem: same applies
+ for taler-exchange-transfer and other exchange processes).
Discussion / Q&A