Forgot to attach the chatlog, so here it is.


On 25/10/2017 20:46, Samuli Seppänen wrote:
> Hi,
> Here's the summary of the IRC meeting.
> ---
> Place: #openvpn-meeting on
> Date: Wednesday 25th Oct 2017
> Time: 19:00 CET (17:00 UTC)
> Planned meeting topics for this meeting were here:
> <>
> The next meeting has not been scheduled yet.
> Your local meeting time is easy to check from services such as
> <>
> dazo, mattock, ordex and syzzer participated in this meeting.
> --
> Discussed ways to avoid user fingerprinting in tls-crypt-v2. Agreed that
> at best we could offer pseudo-anonymity. Thus it was agreed that instead
> of spending time anonymizing tls-crypt-v2 we should put work into
> allowing transport layer plugins. The plugins could then handle the
> anonymity part, e.g. via traffic obfuscation.

(19:57:43) ***dazo stretches his legs and gets ready
(20:01:18) syzzer: meeting time!
(20:01:42) dazo: yupp!
(20:02:12) ordex: bing
(20:02:16) dazo: o
(20:02:25) ordex: I think the only topic for this night is tls-crypt v2 ?
(20:02:43) syzzer: so says the agenda
(20:03:14) dazo ha scelto come argomento: Meeting 2017-10-25 19:00 CEST: Agenda 
(20:03:28) syzzer: though I'm also curious to hear what the plan with patchwork 
is (I probably missed some info on that)
(20:03:43) ordex: as far as I know it is ready
(20:03:45) ordex: we can register to it
(20:03:50) dazo:
(20:03:51) vpnHelper: Title: OpenVPN 2 - Patchwork (at
(20:03:53) ordex: and get patches assigned
(20:04:09) ordex: or delegate them to somebody else, although cron2 doesn't 
like that idea :P
(20:04:17) syzzer: haha
(20:04:22) syzzer: yeah, I already registered
(20:04:28) syzzer: looks useful
(20:04:32) mattock: hi!
(20:04:45) syzzer: let's see if I can assign to someone :p
(20:04:46) vpnHelper: Title: [Openvpn-devel] make struct key * argument of 
init_key_ctx const - Patchwork (at
(20:04:56) ordex: syzzer: :D
(20:05:23) ordex: honestly I see two approaches
(20:05:51) ordex: whoever sees a patch without an assignee could assign the 
patch to whom is owning that particular piece of code (if this is known/clear)
(20:06:12) ordex: or the owner of a piece of code assigns the patch to himself 
when he gets a chance to check patchwork
(20:06:35) mattock: syzzer: now you can assign
(20:06:38) ordex: I wouldn't mind the first approach as we implicitly know who 
is supposed to review what normally
(20:06:52) ordex: but as I said, cron2 does not like it
(20:07:11) mattock: patchwork also allows automatically assigning patches to 
people based on the files/paths the patch touches
(20:07:26) mattock: not sure what it does if a patch touches several places
(20:07:32) syzzer: hehe "your fault!"
(20:07:59) syzzer: even just as a todo-list it's useful
(20:08:05) mattock: yup
(20:08:18) ordex: yeah
(20:08:31) ordex: just to keep track of what's pending, without scrolling the 
inbox every time
(20:08:31) syzzer: for now I think it makes sense to not assign stuff to 
people, because it might give a false idea that someone else will take care of 
(20:08:38) ordex: :D
(20:08:49) ordex: that's the best false idea ever
(20:08:53) ordex: but i agree
(20:09:59) syzzer: okay, so, tls-crypt-v2?
(20:10:46) rabbit__ [2d4c6435@gateway/web/freenode/ip.] è entrato 
nella stanza.
(20:10:53) ordex: I just went through your email. so I guess the idea of 
switching to asym crypto is not really acceptable, right ?
(20:11:29) syzzer: well, *I* prefer to avoid it for this outer layer
(20:12:11) syzzer: but others might make different tradeoffs
(20:12:30) ordex: well, your explanation was quite convincing. and you are the 
guru of those things :)
(20:13:12) syzzer: don't underestimate yourself, you make very sharp 
observations and suggestions
(20:14:03) dazo: Could we just to a quick TL;DR executive summary of pro/cons 
for symmetric vs asymmetric in this context?
(20:14:10) syzzer: it would be good to also hear from James on this
(20:14:15) ordex: sure, but in terms of "what could possibly go wrong" you have 
a better overview
(20:14:33) ordex: syzzer: maybe you could sum this up so also the others can 
follow a bit better ?
(20:15:11) syzzer: I think this paragraph sort of summarizes it: "This trades 
an engineering problem ('how to store the new WKc') for more
(20:15:11) syzzer: complex crypto (ECC instead of AES), less DoS protection 
(ECC is more
(20:15:11) syzzer: expensive than AES), no more post-quantum properties (ECC is 
not PQ) and
(20:15:11) syzzer: other engineering problems (how to prevent nonce reuse).  
That's not
(20:15:12) syzzer: because the idea is bad, it's simply that asymmetrical 
crypto is more
(20:15:12) syzzer: fragile and complex than symmetrical crypto is."
(20:17:04) dazo: So what we essentially try to resolve is how to have a shared 
secret before a connection is trusted, and how do we ensure that key can be 
rotated .... or did I miss something?
(20:17:15) syzzer: correct
(20:17:19) ordex: yap
(20:17:35) ordex: well, we are not necessarily trying to rotate the key
(20:17:46) syzzer: so symmetrical has the disadvantage that the server has to 
send a new key, and the client has to store that new key somehow
(20:17:47) ordex: we just want to be sure to not send the same cryptogram upon 
every connection
(20:19:34) ordex: and a concerned raised about that approach is that we might 
have client devices not having available storage for that
(20:19:39) syzzer: oh, and just to be clear: this all is only to prevent user 
fingerprinting, ie preventing that a very powerfull attacker that can mitm lots 
of connections can not see that connection x is made by the same user as 
connection y (but without seeing the certificate)
(20:19:39) dazo: okay .... I am just going to throw in a very different ball, 
which I believe does resolve some of that actually .... tang .... TL;DR of this 
concept is based on "how do we securely transfer a decryption key for 
harddrives during boot in an automated fashion"
(20:19:40) vpnHelper: Title: GitHub - latchset/tang: Tang binding daemon (at
(20:21:13) syzzer: and it's quite questionable that this suffices.  tor goes 
through a lot of pain to prevent it, and then people just look at the packet 
sizes of the connection and still fingerprint the users based on that
(20:21:18) dazo: not saying we should try to implement that protocol .... but 
it uses a modified DH key exchange (yes, there's some papers on that) ... and 
that key exchange is fairly interesting
(20:21:50) ordex: syzzer: you mean after tls handshake has been performed?
(20:22:23) syzzer: ordex: yes, just look at the sizes of the P_DATA packets and 
you can likely fingerprint users
(20:23:23) dazo: random length padding on packets?
(20:23:37) dazo: (would hurt performance, though)
(20:23:43) dazo: or throughput, more likely
(20:24:03) syzzer: dazo: I'll read up on the protocol, but it likely has the 
same problems as ordex' proposal
(20:24:50) ordex: sounds plausible after reading a bit of it
(20:24:56) ordex: plausible that will have the same issues
(20:25:12) dazo: syzzer:
(20:25:13) vpnHelper: Title: Clevis/Tang Planning by Nathaniel McCallum (at
(20:25:34) syzzer: dazo: random length padding makes it a bit harder, but since 
the random will eventually just produce an average offset, it won't stop the 
attack.  The attacker just needs more data.
(20:25:48) dazo: that's true
(20:26:09) syzzer: the only thing that helps is padding everything to the max, 
and send at max-rate
(20:26:18) syzzer: otherwise the timing of packets can be used to identify you
(20:27:41) dazo: syzzer:  .... here 
Tang, Clevis and Jose is explained in more details
(20:28:14) syzzer: (in other words: if it's easy and has no disadvantages, I 
think we should implement fingerprinting prevention measures.  But if people 
want anonymity, openvpn is probably just not the right tool...)
(20:29:17) ordex: mh interesting .. so it sounds like solving user 
fingerprinting at the tls-crypt level is not going to help for real? it will 
just avoid to make fingerprinting easier than now
(20:29:27) dazo: VPNs are really not suitable for anonymity at all .... the 
exit point reveals what you do regardless
(20:31:49) syzzer: ordex: yes, it's sort-of "make it a little bit harder", but 
not more than that
(20:32:21) ordex: I see
(20:32:28) ordex: I wonder if we should take care of this at all then ...
(20:33:08) ordex: we can still implement a user fingerprinting pretection later 
when a reasonable easy idea comes along, rather than going down the "store a 
new WKc everytime" path
(20:33:09) syzzer: nah "a bit harder" - little bit is too strong.  from simple 
pattern matching to statistical analysis is a decent step forward
(20:33:14) ordex: not sure what you think about it
(20:33:23) ordex: ok
(20:33:25) ordex: right
(20:33:25) dazo: should we rather look more at having a plug-in interface for 
the transport layer, so we can let an obfuscation plug-in handle the 
fingerprint issue?
(20:33:43) syzzer: dazo: actually, yes.  I think it makes much more sense to 
put effort into that
(20:33:49) ordex: yeah
(20:34:03) ordex: syzzer: would tls-crypt still be needed if we have yet 
another outern layer obfuscating the protocol ?
(20:34:34) dazo: or to flip it around ... how can we avoid DoS attacks when 
obfuscation is enabled?
(20:34:49) syzzer: ordex: not for anonymity
(20:35:08) dazo: tls-auth/tls-crypt covers this at a very early state 
(20:35:10) syzzer: dazo: that fully depends on the obfuscation method
(20:35:22) ordex: syzzer: why? if the obfuscation is encrypted don't we get 
anonymity as well ?
(20:35:44) ordex: well, it all boils down to how the obfuscation is 
implemented. not sure we can make assumptions earlier
(20:36:03) dazo: true
(20:36:45) syzzer: ordex: my statement might have been ambiguous.  I wanted to 
say that if you use e.g. tor for obfuscation, you don't need tls-crypt for 
pseudo-anonymity anymore.
(20:37:19) syzzer: but tls-crypt-v2 would still offer protection of OpenVPN's 
TLS stack, and early-rejection of clients
(20:37:33) ordex: right
(20:37:34) syzzer: and post-quantum security :p
(20:37:54) ordex: that might be offered by the obfuscation too
(20:37:55) ordex: anyway
(20:38:04) ordex: I think we all agree that putting effort into that is 
probably better :D
(20:38:21) syzzer: yeah, I think dazo is completely right about that
(20:38:47) dazo: yeah, fingerprinting in tls-crypt is solving the issue in the 
wrong place
(20:40:20) syzzer: okay, so we continue with just finishing tls-crypt-v2 with 
the primary goal of DoS-protection for large deployments and VPN providers.
(20:40:50) dazo: agreed
(20:41:08) ordex: yup
(20:41:33) syzzer: well, that wraps up our agenda then :)
(20:41:35) ordex: syzzer: speaking about that, where are we now? I think we are 
quite close ?
(20:41:46) ordex: your code works so far
(20:41:59) ordex: and looks reasonably good. but maybe there is still some 
refactoring pending ?
(20:42:14) syzzer: ordex: yeah, I think so.  I'll need to pick up the 
preliminary patches again.  Those needed some final testing before I resend 
them to the list.
(20:42:27) ordex: oky!
(20:42:29) ordex: sounds good
(20:42:33) ordex: ping me if you need help
(20:42:34) syzzer: Then I can rebase again and finish the actual implementation 
(20:43:46) syzzer: any other things to discuss now?
(20:43:58) mattock: not afaik
(20:44:03) syzzer: otherwise I'm going to make dinner :)
(20:44:13) mattock: quick summary:
(20:44:22) mattock: "Discussed ways to avoid user fingerprinting in 
tls-crypt-v2. Agreed that at best we could offer pseudo-anonymity. Thus it was 
agreed that instead of spending time anonymizing tls-crypt-v2 we should put 
work into allowing transport layer plugins. The plugins could then handle the 
anonymity part, e.g. via traffic obfuscation."
(20:44:25) mattock: looks good?
(20:44:43) syzzer: ack
(20:44:47) mattock: ok
(20:45:16) mattock: if there is nothing else let's call this "yet another good 
meeting that ended in less than one hour" :P
(20:45:28) dazo: :)
(20:45:36) syzzer: yeah, this weekly thing really seems to work :D
(20:45:39) mattock: it does
(20:45:41) dazo: then some of us can get ready for the third meeting in a row :)
(20:45:51) mattock: there won't be time to accumulate huge backlog of things to 
(20:45:52) syzzer: hehe, enjoy ;-)
(20:45:53) dazo: agreed :)
(20:45:58) mattock: dazo: +1
(20:46:02) mattock: ok bye guys!
(20:46:06) syzzer: good night!
(20:46:06) mattock: I'll send the summary now
(20:46:19) ordex: good!
(20:46:21) ordex: thanks!
(20:46:38) mattock: sent
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