DANE OPENPGPKEY for debian.org
I recently announced the publication of Web Key Directory for
@debian.org e-mail addresses. This blog post
announces another way to fetch OpenPGP certificates for
e-mail addresses, this time using only the DNS. These two mechanisms
are complementary, not in competition. We want to make sure that
whatever certificate lookup scheme your OpenPGP client supports, you
will be able to find the appropriate certificate.
The additional mechanism we're now supporting (since a few days ago) is DANE OPENPGPKEY, specified in RFC 7929.
How does it work?
DANE OPENPGPKEY works by storing a minimized OpenPGP certificate in the DNS, ideally in a subdomain at label based on a hashed version of the local part of the e-mail address.
With modern GnuPG, if you're interested in retrieving the OpenPGP
dkg as served by the DNS, you can do:
gpg --auto-key-locate clear,nodefault,dane --locate-keys email@example.com
If you're interested in how this DNS zone is populated, take a look at can the code that handles it. Please request improvements if you see ways that this could be improved.
Unfortunately, GnuPG does not currently do DNSSEC validation on these records, so the cryptographic protections offered by this client are not as strong as those provided by WKD (which at least checks the X.509 certificate for a given domain name against the list of trusted root CAs).
Why offer both DANE OPENPGPKEY and WKD?
I'm hoping that the Debian project can ensure that no matter whatever
sensible mechanism any OpenPGP client implements for certificate
lookup, it will be able to find the appropriate OpenPGP certificate
for contacting someone within the
A clever OpenPGP client might even consider these two mechanisms -- DANE OPENPGPKEY and WKD -- as corroborative mechanisms, since an attacker who happens to compromise one of them may find it more difficult to compromise both simultaneously.
How to update?
If you are a Debian developer and you want your OpenPGP certificate updated in the DNS, please follow the normal procedures for Debian keyring maintenance like you always have. When a new debian-keyring package is released, we will update these DNS records at the same time.
Setting this up would not have been possible without help from
weasel on the Debian System Administration team, and
the keyring-maint team providing guidance.
DANE OPENPGPKEY was documented and shepherded through the IETF by Paul Wouters.
Thanks to all of these people for making it possible.