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9.1 Confidentiality Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
9.1 Confidentiality

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9.1 Confidentiality

9.1 Confidentiality

Confidentiality means that only the intended receiver(s) can decode the received packets; for others, the packet contains no useful information. Confidentiality of the content is achieved by encryption.

When encryption of RTP or RTCP is desired, all the octets that will be encapsulated for transmission in a single lower-layer packet are encrypted as a unit. For RTCP, a 32-bit random number is prepended to the unit before encryption to deter known plaintext attacks. For RTP, no prefix is required because the sequence number and timestamp fields are initialized with random offsets.

For RTCP, it is allowed to split a compound RTCP packet into two lower-layer packets, one to be encrypted and one to be sent in the clear. For example, SDES information might be encrypted while reception reports were sent in the clear to accommodate third-party monitors that are not privy to the encryption key. In this example, depicted in Fig. 4, the SDES information must be appended to an RR packet with no reports (and the encrypted) to satisfy the requirement that all compound RTCP packets begin with an SR or RR packet.

                 UDP packet                        UDP packet
   -------------------------------------  -------------------------
   [32-bit ][       ][     #           ]  [    # sender # receiver]
   [random ][  RR   ][SDES # CNAME, ...]  [ SR # report # report  ]
   [integer][(empty)][     #           ]  [    #        #         ]
   -------------------------------------  -------------------------
                 encrypted                       not encrypted

   #: SSRC

           Figure 4: Encrypted and non-encrypted RTCP packets

The presence of encryption and the use of the correct key are confirmed by the receiver through header or payload validity checks. Examples of such validity checks for RTP and RTCP headers are given in Appendices A.1 and A.2.

The default encryption algorithm is the Data Encryption Standard (DES) algorithm in cipher block chaining (CBC) mode, as described in Section 1.1 of RFC 1423 [21], except that padding to a multiple of 8 octets is indicated as described for the P bit in Section 5.1. The initialization vector is zero because random values are supplied in the RTP header or by the random prefix for compound RTCP packets. For details on the use of CBC initialization vectors, see [22]. Implementations that support encryption should always support the DES algorithm in CBC mode as the default to maximize interoperability. This method is chosen because it has been demonstrated to be easy and practical to use in experimental audio and video tools in operation on the Internet. Other encryption algorithms may be specified dynamically for a session by non-RTP means.

As an alternative to encryption at the RTP level as described above, profiles may define additional payload types for encrypted encodings. Those encodings must specify how padding and other aspects of the encryption should be handled. This method allows encrypting only the data while leaving the headers in the clear for applications where that is desired. It may be particularly useful for hardware devices that will handle both decryption and decoding.


Next: 9.2 Authentication and Message Integrity

Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
9.1 Confidentiality

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