Filename: 190-shared-secret-bridge-authorization.txt
Title: Bridge Client Authorization Based on a Shared Secret
Author: George Kadianakis
Created: 04 Nov 2011
Status: Obsolete

Notes: This is obsoleted by pluggable transports.

1. Overview

   Proposals 187 and 189 introduced AUTHORIZE and AUTHORIZED cells.
   Their purpose is to make bridge relays scanning-resistant against
   censoring adversaries capable of probing hosts to observe whether
   they speak the Tor protocol.

   This proposal specifies a bridge client authorization scheme based
   on a shared secret between the bridge user and bridge operator.

2. Motivation

   A bridge client authorization scheme should only allow clients who
   show knowledge of a shared secret to talk Tor to the bridge.

3. Shared-secret-based authorization

3.1. Where do shared secrets come from?

   A shared secret is a piece of data known only to the bridge
   operator and the bridge client.

   It's meant to be automatically generated by the bridge
   implementation to avoid issues with insecure and weak passwords.

   Bridge implementations SHOULD create shared secrets by generating
   random data using a strong RNG or PRNG.

3.2. AUTHORIZE cell format

   In shared-secret-based authorization, the MethodFields field of the
   AUTHORIZE cell becomes:

       'shared_secret'               [10 octets]


   'shared_secret', is the shared secret between the bridge operator
                    and the bridge client.

3.3. Cell parsing

   Bridge implementations MUST reject any AUTHORIZE cells whose
   'shared_secret' field does not match the shared secret negotiated
   between the bridge operator and authorized bridge clients.

4. Tor implementation

4.1. Bridge side

   Tor bridge implementations MUST create the bridge shared secret by
   generating 10 octets of random data using a strong RNG or PRNG.

   Tor bridge implementations MUST store the shared secret in
   'DataDirectory/keys/bridge_auth_ss_key' in hexadecimal encoding.

   Tor bridge implementations MUST support the boolean
   'BridgeRequireClientSharedSecretAuthorization' configuration file
   option which enables bridge client authorization based on a shared

   If 'BridgeRequireClientSharedSecretAuthorization' is set, bridge
   implementations MUST generate a new shared secret, if
   'DataDirectory/keys/bridge_auth_ss_key' does not already exist.

4.2. Client side

   Tor client implementations must extend their Bridge line format to
   support bridge shared secrets. The new format is:
     Bridge [<method>] <address[:port]> [["keyid="]<id-fingerprint>] ["shared_secret="<shared_secret>]

   where <shared_secret> is the bridge shared secret in hexadecimal

   Tor clients who use bridges with shared-secret-based client
   authorization must specify the bridge's shared secret as in:
     Bridge shared_secret=934caff420aa7852b855

5. Discussion

5.1. What should actually happen when a bridge rejects an AUTHORIZE

   When a bridge detects a badly formed or malicious AUTHORIZE cell,
   it should assume that the other side is an adversary scanning for
   bridges. The bridge should then act accordingly to avoid detection.

   This proposal does not try to specify how a bridge can avoid
   detection by an adversary.

6. Acknowledgements

   Thanks to Nick Mathewson and Robert Ransom for the help and
   suggestions while writing this proposal.