MIT Kerberos Documentation

Encryption types

Kerberos can use a variety of cipher algorithms to protect data. A Kerberos encryption type (also known as an enctype) is a specific combination of a cipher algorithm with an integrity algorithm to provide both confidentiality and integrity to data.

Enctypes in requests

Clients make two types of requests (KDC-REQ) to the KDC: AS-REQs and TGS-REQs. The client uses the AS-REQ to obtain initial tickets (typically a Ticket-Granting Ticket (TGT)), and uses the TGS-REQ to obtain service tickets.

The KDC uses three different keys when issuing a ticket to a client:

  • The long-term key of the service: the KDC uses this to encrypt the actual service ticket. The KDC only uses the first long-term key in the most recent kvno for this purpose.
  • The session key: the KDC randomly chooses this key and places one copy inside the ticket and the other copy inside the encrypted part of the reply.
  • The reply-encrypting key: the KDC uses this to encrypt the reply it sends to the client. For AS replies, this is a long-term key of the client principal. For TGS replies, this is either the session key of the authenticating ticket, or a subsession key.

Each of these keys is of a specific enctype.

Each request type allows the client to submit a list of enctypes that it is willing to accept. For the AS-REQ, this list affects both the session key selection and the reply-encrypting key selection. For the TGS-REQ, this list only affects the session key selection.

Session key selection

The KDC chooses the session key enctype by taking the intersection of its permitted_enctypes list, the list of long-term keys for the most recent kvno of the service, and the client’s requested list of enctypes.

Starting in krb5-1.11, it is possible to set a string attribute on a service principal to control what session key enctypes the KDC may issue for service tickets for that principal. See set_string in kadmin for details.

Choosing enctypes for a service

Generally, a service should have a key of the strongest enctype that both it and the KDC support. If the KDC is running a release earlier than krb5-1.11, it is also useful to generate an additional key for each enctype that the service can support. The KDC will only use the first key in the list of long-term keys for encrypting the service ticket, but the additional long-term keys indicate the other enctypes that the service supports.

As noted above, starting with release krb5-1.11, there are additional configuration settings that control session key enctype selection independently of the set of long-term keys that the KDC has stored for a service principal.

Configuration variables

The following [libdefaults] settings in krb5.conf will affect how enctypes are chosen.

allow_weak_crypto
defaults to false starting with krb5-1.8. When false, removes weak enctypes from permitted_enctypes, default_tkt_enctypes, and default_tgs_enctypes. Do not set this to true unless the use of weak enctypes is an acceptable risk for your environment and the weak enctypes are required for backward compatibility.
permitted_enctypes
controls the set of enctypes that a service will permit for session keys and for ticket and authenticator encryption. The KDC and other programs that access the Kerberos database will ignore keys of non-permitted enctypes. Starting in release 1.18, this setting also acts as the default for default_tkt_enctypes and defaut_tgs_enctypes.
default_tkt_enctypes
controls the default set of enctypes that the Kerberos client library requests when making an AS-REQ. Do not set this unless required for specific backward compatibility purposes; stale values of this setting can prevent clients from taking advantage of new stronger enctypes when the libraries are upgraded.
default_tgs_enctypes
controls the default set of enctypes that the Kerberos client library requests when making a TGS-REQ. Do not set this unless required for specific backward compatibility purposes; stale values of this setting can prevent clients from taking advantage of new stronger enctypes when the libraries are upgraded.

The following per-realm setting in kdc.conf affects the generation of long-term keys.

supported_enctypes
controls the default set of enctype-salttype pairs that kadmind will use for generating long-term keys, either randomly or from passwords

Enctype compatibility

See Encryption types for additional information about enctypes.

enctype weak? krb5 Windows
des-cbc-crc weak <1.18 >=2000
des-cbc-md4 weak <1.18 ?
des-cbc-md5 weak <1.18 >=2000
des3-cbc-sha1 deprecated >=1.1 none
arcfour-hmac deprecated >=1.3 >=2000
arcfour-hmac-exp weak >=1.3 >=2000
aes128-cts-hmac-sha1-96   >=1.3 >=Vista
aes256-cts-hmac-sha1-96   >=1.3 >=Vista
aes128-cts-hmac-sha256-128   >=1.15 none
aes256-cts-hmac-sha384-192   >=1.15 none
camellia128-cts-cmac   >=1.9 none
camellia256-cts-cmac   >=1.9 none

krb5 releases 1.18 and later do not support single-DES. krb5 releases 1.8 and later disable the single-DES enctypes by default. Microsoft Windows releases Windows 7 and later disable single-DES enctypes by default.

krb5 releases 1.17 and later flag deprecated encryption types (including des3-cbc-sha1 and arcfour-hmac) in KDC logs and kadmin output. krb5 release 1.19 issues a warning during initial authentication if des3-cbc-sha1 is used. Future releases will disable des3-cbc-sha1 by default and eventually remove support for it.

Migrating away from older encryption types

Administrator intervention may be required to migrate a realm away from legacy encryption types, especially if the realm was created using krb5 release 1.2 or earlier. This migration should be performed before upgrading to krb5 versions which disable or remove support for legacy encryption types.

If there is a supported_enctypes setting in kdc.conf on the KDC, make sure that it does not include weak or deprecated encryption types. This will ensure that newly created keys do not use those encryption types by default.

Check the krbtgt/REALM principal using the kadmin getprinc command. If it lists a weak or deprecated encryption type as the first key, it must be migrated using the procedure in Changing the krbtgt key.

Check the kadmin/history principal, which should have only one key entry. If it uses a weak or deprecated encryption type, it should be upgraded following the notes in Updating the history key.

Check the other kadmin principals: kadmin/changepw, kadmin/admin, and any kadmin/hostname principals that may exist. These principals can be upgraded with change_password -randkey in kadmin.

Check the K/M entry. If it uses a weak or deprecated encryption type, it should be upgraded following the procedure in Updating the master key.

User and service principals using legacy encryption types can be enumerated with the kdb5_util tabdump keyinfo command.

Service principals can be migrated with a keytab rotation on the service host, which can be accomplished using the k5srvutil change and delold commands. Allow enough time for existing tickets to expire between the change and delold operations.

User principals with password-based keys can be migrated with a password change. The realm administrator can set a password expiration date using the kadmin modify_principal -pwexpire command to force a password change.

If a legacy encryption type has not yet been disabled by default in the version of krb5 running on the KDC, it can be disabled administratively with the permitted_enctypes variable. For example, setting permitted_enctypes to DEFAULT -des3 -rc4 will cause any database keys of the triple-DES and RC4 encryption types to be ignored.