Secure decoupled messaging with DANE and the TLSA resource record

Decoupled and Secure

© Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash.com

© Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash.com

Article from Issue 244/2021
Author(s):

Decoupled application design gets in the way of secure communication, but a little known feature of DNS can provide message security.

Traditional security mechanisms like Transport Layer Security (TLS) provide the ability to authenticate both sides of a direct session between two parties, and to encrypt the traffic passing over the authenticated session. For applications that fit into the footprint of the client/server architecture, TLS is a fine solution for authentication and encryption.

However, as applications become more sophisticated, client/server applications are often challenged to maintain availability with a large number of clients. Middleware layers often serve as a means for providing more graceful scaling. The practice of adding layers to the application stack connecting communicating parties is called decoupling. Decoupled applications – applications that may contain components like message queues or brokers between the message sender and receiver – have been around for many years. Decoupled designs are now employed for building massive IoT applications, like smart cities and facilities automation.

Message brokers and other middleware components offer many advantages, but they also add some complications. One problem is that a message broker prevents the sender and receiver from establishing a direct session that can be secured with TLS. If you don't have a direct connection, how do you encrypt the data and also authenticate both sides of a session?

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