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7.5.2 DTLS sessions

Because datagram TLS can operate over connections where the peer of a server cannot be reliably verified, functionality is available to prevent denial of service attacks. GnuTLS requires a server to generate a secret key that is used to sign a cookie(13). That cookie is sent to the client using gnutls_dtls_cookie_send, and the client must reply using the correct cookie. The server side should verify the initial message sent by client using gnutls_dtls_cookie_verify. If successful the session should be initialized and associated with the cookie using gnutls_dtls_prestate_set, before proceeding to the handshake.

Note that the above apply to server side only and they are not mandatory to be used. Not using them, however, allows denial of service attacks. The client side cookie handling is part of gnutls_handshake.

Datagrams are typically restricted by a maximum transfer unit (MTU). For that both client and server side should set the correct maximum transfer unit for the layer underneath GnuTLS. This will allow proper fragmentation of DTLS messages and prevent messages from being silently discarded by the transport layer. The “correct” maximum transfer unit can be obtained through a path MTU discovery mechanism [RFC4821].


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