Internet-Draft June 2024
DeKok Expires 15 December 2024 [Page]
EMU Working Group
9140 (if approved)
Intended Status:
Standards Track
A. DeKok

The domain and EAP provisioning


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Table of Contents

1. Introduction

In most uses, EAP [RFC3748] requires that the EAP peer have a known identity. However, when the peer does not already have an identity, this requirement creates a bootstrapping problem. It may not be possible for the device to obtain network access without credentials. However, credentials are usually required in order to obtain network access. As a result, the device is unprovisioned, and unable to be provisioned.

This specification addresses that problem. It creates a framework by which clients can submit predefined credentials to a server in order to obtain limited network access. At the same time, servers can know in advance that these credentials are only to be used for provisioning, and that unrestricted network access should not be granted.

The device can either use the EAP channel itself for provisioning, as with TEAP [RFC7170], or the EAP server can give the device access to a limited captive portal such as with [RFC8952]. Once the device is provisioned, it can use those provisioned credentials to obtain full network access.

The identifiers used here are generically referred to as "EAP Provisioning Identifiers" (EPI). The choice of "Provisioning Identifiers for EAP" (PIE) was considered and rejected.

2. Terminology

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all capitals, as shown here.

3. Concepts

A device which has no device-specific credentials can use a predefined identifier in Network Access Identifier (NAI) format [RFC7542]. The NAI is composed of two portions, the utf8-username, and the utf8-realm domain. For simplicity here, we refer to these as the "username" and "realm" fields.

The realm is chosen to be non-routable, so that the EAP packet exchange is not normally sent across an Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting (AAA) proxy framework as defined in [RFC7542] Section 3. Instead, the packets generally remains local to the EAP server.

This specification does not, however, forbid routing of realms in the "" domain. The use of "" means that any such routing does not happen automatically. Instead, it routing of that domain must be explicitly configured locally, and be done with full consent of all parties which need to authenticate NAIs in that domain.

If the EAP server implements this standard, then it can proceed with the full EAP conversation. If the EAP server does not implement this standard, then it MUST reply with an EAP Failure, as per [RFC3748] Section 4.2. We note that this specification is fully compatible with all existing EAP implementations, so its is fail-safe. When presented with a peer wishing to use this specification, existing implementations will return EAP Failure, and will not otherwise misbehave.

We now discuss the NAI format in more detail. We first discuss the realm, and second the use and purpose of the username field.

3.1. The realm

This document defines the "" domain as being used for provisioning within EAP. A similar domain has previously been used for EAP-NOOB [RFC9140], as "". This document extends that concept, and standardizes the practices surrounding it,

NOTE: the "arpa" domain is controlled by the IAB. Allocation of "" requires agreement from the IAB.

3.2. The realm field

The sub-domain in realm is assigned via the EAP Provisioning Identifier Registry which is defined in Section 6.2. The sub-domain MUST follow the domain name conventions specified in [RFC1034].

It is RECOMMENDED that the first sub-domain of "" use the EAP method name, as defined in the IANA Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) Registry, sub-table "Method Types". However, that registry does not follow the domain name conventions specified in [RFC1034], so it is not possible to make a "one-to-one" mapping between the Method Type name and the subdomain.

Where it is not possible to make a direct mapping between the EAP Method Type name (e.g. "TEAP"), and a sub-domain (e.g. ""), the name used in the realm registry SHOULD be similar enough to allow the average reader to understand which EAP Method Type is being used.

Additional sub-domains are permitted, which permit vendors and Service delivery organizations (SDOs) the ability to self-assign a delegated range of identifiers which cannot conflict with other identifiers.

Any realm defined in this registry (e.g. "") also implicitly defines a subdomain "v." (e.g. ""). Vendors can self-allocate within the "v." subdomain, using domains which they own. For example, 3GPP specifications could self-allocate and use the realm "".

3.3. The username field

The username field is dependent on the EAP method being used for provisioning. For example, [RFC9140] uses the username "noob". Other EAP methods MAY omit the username as RECOMMENDED in [RFC7542]. The username of "anonymous" is NOT RECOMMENDED for specifications using this format, even though it is permitted by [RFC7542].

The username field is assigned via the EAP Provisioning Identifier Registry which is defined in Section 6.2. The username field MUST be either empty, or hold a fixed string such as "provisioning".

The username field MUST NOT omitted. That is, "" is not a valid identifier for the purposes of this specification. [RFC7542] recommends omitting the username portion for user privacy. As the names are defined in public specifications, user privacy is not needed here, and the username field can be publicly visible.

4. Overview

For EAP-TLS, both [RFC5216] Section 2.1.1 and [RFC9190] provide for "peer unauthenticated access". However, those documents define no way for a peer to signal that it is requesting such access. The presumption is that the peer connects with some value for the EAP Identity, but without using a client certificate. The EAP server is then supposed to determine that the peer is requesting unauthenticated access, and take the appropriate steps to limit authorization.

There appears to be no EAP peer or server implementations which support such access, since there is no defined way to perform any of the steps required. i.e. to signal that this access is desired, and then limit access.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has defined an unauthenticated EAP-TLS method, using a vendor-specific EAP type as part of HotSpot 2.0r2 [HOTSPOT]. However, there appears to be little or no deployments of this specification.

EAP-NOOB [RFC9140] takes this process a step further. It defines both a way to signal that provisioning is desired, and also a way to exchange provisioning information within EAP-NOOB. That is, there is no need for the device to obtain limited network access, as all of the provisioning is done inside of the EAP-NOOB protocol.

TEAP [RFC7170] provides for provisioning via an unauthenticated TLS tunnel. That document provides for a server unauthenticated provisioning mode, but the inner TLS exchange requires that both end authenticate each other. There are ways to provision a certificate, but the peer must still authenticate itself to the server.

4.1. Taxonomy of Provisioning Types

There are two scenarios where provisioning can be done. The first is where provisioning is done within the EAP type, as with EAP-NOOB [RFC9140]. The second is where EAP is used to obtain limited network access (e.g. as with a captive portal). That limited network access is then used to run Internet Protocol (IP) based provisioning over more complex protocols.

4.1.1. Rationale for Provisioning over EAP

It is often useful to do all provisioning inside of EAP, because the EAP / AAA admin does not have control over the network. It is not always possible to define a captive portal where provisioning can be done. As a result, we need to be able to perform provisioning via EAP, and not via some IP protocol.

5. Interaction with existing EAP types

As the provisioning identifier is used within EAP, it necessarily has interactions with, and effects on, the various EAP types. This section discusses those effects in more detail.

Some EAP methods require shared credentials such as passwords in order to succeed. For example, both EAP-MSCHAPv2 (PEAP) and EAP-PWD [RFC5931] perform cryptographic exchanges where both parties knowing a shared password. Where those methods are used, the password MUST be the same as the provisioning identifier.

This requirement also applies to TLS-based EAP methods such as TTLS and PEAP. Where the TLS-based EAP method provides for an inner identity and inner authentication method, the credentials used there MUST be the provisioning identifier for both the inner identity, and any inner password.

It is RECOMMENDED that provisioning be done via a TLS-based EAP methods. TLS provides for authentication of the EAP server, along with security and confidentiality of any provisioning data exchanged in the tunnel. Similarly if provisioning is done in a captive portal outside of EAP, EAP-TLS permits the EAP peer to run a full EAP authentication session while having nothing more than a few certification authorities (CAs) locally configured.

5.1. EAP-TLS

This document defines an identifier "", which is the first step towards permitted unauthenticated client provisioning in EAP-TLS. The purpose of the identifier is to allow EAP peers to signal EAP servers that they wish to obtain a "captive portal" style network access.

This identifier signals the EAP server that the peer wishes to obtain "peer unauthenticated access" as per [RFC5216] Section 2.1.1 and [RFC9190].

An EAP server which agrees to authenticate this request MUST ensure that the device is placed into a captive portal with limited network access. Implementations SHOULD limit both the total amount of data transferred by devices in the captive portal, and SHOULD also limit the total amount of time a device spends within the captive portal.

Further details of the captive portal architecture can be found in [RFC8952].

The remaining question is how the EAP peer verifies the identity of the EAP server. The device SHOULD ignore the EAP server certificate entirely, as the servers identity does not matter. Any verification of servers can be done at the HTTPS layer when the device access the captive portal. Where possible the device SHOULD warn the end user that the provided certificate is unchecked, and untrusted.

However, since the device likely is configured with web CAs (otherwise the captive portal would also be unauthenticated), EAP peers MAY use the CAs available for the web in order to validate the EAP server certificate. If the presented certificate passes validation, the device does not need to warn the end user that the provided certificate is untrusted.

5.2. TLS-based EAP methods

Other TLS-based EAP methods such as TTLS and PEAP can use the same method as defined for EAP-TLS above. The only difference is that the inner identity and password is also the provisioning identifier.

Is is RECOMMENDED that provisioning methods use EAP-TLS in preference to any other TLS-based EAP methods. As the credentials for other methods are predefined and known in advance, those methods offer little benefit over EAP-TLS.


It is RECOMMENDED that server implementations of EAP-NOOB accept both identities "" and "" as synonyms.

It is RECOMMENDED that EAP-NOOB peers use "" first, and if that does not succeed, use ""

6. IANA Considerations

Three IANA actions are required. The first two are registry updates for "". The second is the creation of a new registry.

6.1. .arpa updates

IANA is instructed to update the ".ARPA Zone Management" registry with the following entry:




  • For provisioning within the Extensible Authentication Protocol framework.



IANA is instructed to update the "Special-Use Domain Names" registry as follows:





6.1.1. Domain Name Reservation Considerations

This section answers the questions which are required by Section 5 of [RFC6761]. At a high level, these new domain names are used in certain situations in EAP. The domain names are never seen by users, and they do not appear in any networking protocol other than EAP.

  1. Users:
  • User are not expected to recognise these names as special or use them differently from other domain names. The use of these names in EAP is invisible to end users.

  1. Application Software:
  • EAP servers and clients are expected to make their software recognize these names as special and treat them differently. This document discusses that behavor.

    EAP supplicants should recognize these names as special, and should refuse to allow users to enter them in any interface.

  1. Name Resolution APIs and Libraries:
  • Writers of these APIs and libraries are not expected to recognize these names or treat them differently.

  1. Caching DNS Servers:
  • Writers of caching DNS servers are not expected to recognize these names or treat them differently.

  1. Authoritative DNS Servers:
  • Writers of authoritative DNS servers are not expected to recognize these names or treat them differently.

  1. DNS Server Operators:
  • These domain names have no impact on DNS server operators. They should never be used in DNS, or in any networking protocol outside of EAP.

    If they try to configure their authoritative DNS as authoritative for this reserved name, compliant name servers do not need to do anything special. They can accept the domain or reject it. Either behavior will have no impact on this specification.

  1. DNS Registries/Registrars:
  • DNS Registries/Registrars should deny requests to register this reserved domain name.

6.2. EAP Provisioning Identifiers Registry

IANA is instructed to add the following new registry to the "Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) Registry" group.

Assignments in this registry are done via "Expert Review" as described in [RFC8126] Section 4.5. Guidelines for experts is provided in Section 6.3.

The contents of the registry are as follows.


  • EAP Provisioning Identifiers

Registration Procedure(s)

  • Expert review




  • NAI

    • The Network Access Identifier in [RFC7542] format. Names are lowercase, and are listed in sorted order.

    Method Type

    • The EAP method name, taken from the "Description" field of the EAP "Method Types" registry.


    • Reference where this identifier was defined.

6.2.1. Initial Values

The following table gives the initial values for this table.

NAI,Method-Type,Description,Reference,EAP-NOOB,RFC9140 and THIS-DOCUMENT,EAP-TLS,RFC9190 and THIS-DOCUMENT

6.3. Guidelines for Designated Experts

The following text gives guidelines for Designated Experts who review allocation requests for this registry.

6.3.1. NAIs

The intent is for the NAI to contain both a reference to the EAP Method Type, and a description of the purpose of the NAI. For example, with an EAP Method Type "name", and a purpose "action", the NAI SHOULD be of the form "".

The NAI MUST satisfy the requirements of the [RFC7542], Section 2.2 format. The utf8-username portion MAY be empty. The utf8-username portion MUST NOT be "anonymous". The NAI MUST end with "". The NAI SHOULD NOT contain more than one subdomain.

The sub-domain of the NAI field should correspond to the EAP Method Type name. Care should be taken so that the domain name conventions specified in [RFC1034] are followed.

The NAIs in this registry are case-insensitive. While [RFC7542] notes that similar identifiers of different case can be considered to be different, for simplicity this registry requires that all entries MUST be lowercase.

Identifiers should be unique when compared in a case-insensitive fashion. While [RFC7542] notes that similar identifiers of different case can be considered to be different, this registry is made simpler by requiring case-insensitivity.

Entries in the registry shuld be short. NAIs defined here will generally be sent in a RADIUS packet in the User-Name attribute ([RFC2865] Section 5.1). That specification recommends that implementations should support User-Names of at least 63 octets. NAI length considerations are further discussed in [RFC7542] Section 2.3, and any allocations in this registry needs to take those limitations into consideration.

Implementations are likely to support a total NAI length of 63 octets. Lengths between 63 and 253 octets may work. Lengths of 254 octets or more will not work with RADIUS [RFC2865].

6.4. Method Type

Values in "Method Type" field of this registry MUST be taken from the IANA EAP Method Types registry or else it MUST be an Expanded Type which usually indicates a vendor specific EAP method.

The EAP Method Type MUST provide an MSK and EMSK as defined in [RFC3748]. Failure to provide these keys means that the method will not be usable within an authentication framework which requires those methods, such as with IEEE 802.1X [IEEE.802-1X.2020].

6.5. Designated Experts

For registration requests where a Designated Expert should be consulted, the responsible IESG area director should appoint the Designated Expert. But in order to allow for the allocation of values prior to the RFC being approved for publication, the Designated Expert can approve allocations once it seems clear that an RFC will be published.

The Designated expert will post a request to the EMU WG mailing list (or a successor designated by the Area Director) for comment and review, including an Internet-Draft or reference to external specification. Before a period of 30 days has passed, the Designated Expert will either approve or deny the registration request and publish a notice of the decision to the EAP WG mailing list or its successor, as well as informing IANA. A denial notice must be justified by an explanation, and in the cases where it is possible, concrete suggestions on how the request can be modified so as to become acceptable should be provided.

6.6. Vendor Self Assignment

This registry provides for vendor self-assignment within the NAI space. Any NAI defined in this registry also implicitly defines a subdomain "v." for vendor or SDO self-allocation. For example, an NAI "" uses a realm "". Vendors and SDOs can self-allocate in this space, under the "v." subdomain, "".

Any domain name which is registered as a Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) within the DNS can use that name within the "v." subdomain. For example, 3GPP specifications could self-allocate the realm """, and then use any utf8-username within that realm.

Note that the right to use a self-allocated name is tied to the ownership of the corresponding subdomain. If an entity loses the right to use a domain name, the right to use that domain name within the "v." self-allocation space is immediately revoked.

7. Privacy Considerations

The EAP Identity field is generally publicly visible to parties who can observe the EAP traffic. As the names given here are in a public specification, there is no privacy implication to exposing those names within EAP. The entire goal of this specification is in fact to make those names public, so that unknown (and private) parties can publicly (and anonymously) declare what kind of network access they desire.

However, there are many additional privacy concerns around this specification. Most EAP traffic is sent over RADIUS [RFC2865]. The RADIUS Access-Request packets typically contain large amounts of information such as MAC addresses, device location, etc.

This specification does not change RADIUS or EAP, and as such does not change which information is publicly available, or is kept private. Those issues are dealt with in other specifications.

However, this specification can increase privacy by allowing devices to anonymously obtain network access, and then securely obtain credentials.

8. Security Considerations

This specification defines a framework which permits unknown, anonymous, and unauthenticated devices to request and to obtain network access. As such, it is critical that network operators provide limited access to those devices.

Future specifications which define an NAI within this registry, should give detailed descriptions of what kind of network access is to be provided.

9. Acknowledgements

Mohit Sethi provided valuable insight that using subdomains was better and more informative than the original method, which used only the utf8-username portion of the NAI.

10. Changelog

11. References

11.1. Normative References

Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC 2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174, , <>.
Mockapetris, P., "Domain names - concepts and facilities", STD 13, RFC 1034, DOI 10.17487/RFC1034, , <>.
Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, , <>.
Aboba, B., Blunk, L., Vollbrecht, J., Carlson, J., and H. Levkowetz, Ed., "Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP)", RFC 3748, DOI 10.17487/RFC3748, , <>.
Simon, D., Aboba, B., and R. Hurst, "The EAP-TLS Authentication Protocol", RFC 5216, DOI 10.17487/RFC5216, , <>.
DeKok, A., "The Network Access Identifier", RFC 7542, DOI 10.17487/RFC7542, , <>.
Cotton, M., Leiba, B., and T. Narten, "Guidelines for Writing an IANA Considerations Section in RFCs", BCP 26, RFC 8126, DOI 10.17487/RFC8126, , <>.
Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC 2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174, , <>.
Aura, T., Sethi, M., and A. Peltonen, "Nimble Out-of-Band Authentication for EAP (EAP-NOOB)", RFC 9140, DOI 10.17487/RFC9140, , <>.

11.2. Informative References

Alliance, W.-F., "Passpoint", n.d., <>.
Rigney, C., Willens, S., Rubens, A., and W. Simpson, "Remote Authentication Dial In User Service (RADIUS)", RFC 2865, DOI 10.17487/RFC2865, , <>.
Harkins, D. and G. Zorn, "Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) Authentication Using Only a Password", RFC 5931, DOI 10.17487/RFC5931, , <>.
Cheshire, S. and M. Krochmal, "Special-Use Domain Names", RFC 6761, DOI 10.17487/RFC6761, , <>.
Zhou, H., Cam-Winget, N., Salowey, J., and S. Hanna, "Tunnel Extensible Authentication Protocol (TEAP) Version 1", RFC 7170, DOI 10.17487/RFC7170, , <>.
Larose, K., Dolson, D., and H. Liu, "Captive Portal Architecture", RFC 8952, DOI 10.17487/RFC8952, , <>.
Preuß Mattsson, J. and M. Sethi, "EAP-TLS 1.3: Using the Extensible Authentication Protocol with TLS 1.3", RFC 9190, DOI 10.17487/RFC9190, , <>.

Author's Address

Alan DeKok