Connection Classification may defer fast reconnect following TLS negotiation failure
search cancel

Connection Classification may defer fast reconnect following TLS negotiation failure

book

Article ID: 165311

calendar_today

Updated On:

Products

Messaging Gateway

Issue/Introduction

Symantec Messaging Gateway (SMG) may defer connections from remote MTAs following a TLS negotiation failure. In some cases, if secure TLS communication cannot be negotiated, the sending mail server will immediately attempt a reconnect to deliver the message in plain text. In some cases, the Connection Classification feature in SMGThis appears to be caused by incorrect handling by remote MTA of following:

  • SMTP TLS session
  • Certificates verification process
  • Cleartext fallback mechanism implemented in case of TLS connection failure

 

Cause

Some mail servers will immediately retry sending a message in plain text if the negotiation of secure delivery via SMTP TLS fails. When the Connection Classification feature in Messaging Gateway is enabled this immediate redelivery attempt will trigger the "Reconnect Timeout" limit and cause the connection attempt to be deferred. If the sending mail server again attempts to deliver the message with TLS and fails, the fast retry will again be deferred by Connection Classification.

Resolution

Based on data gathered so far this issue should be resolved on sending MTA side. Following are some suggestions on how this issue can be resolved on remote MTA side:

  • Configure remote MTA to trust certificate provided by SMG
  • Configure remote MTA to fallback to cleartext SMTP with delay (recommended 2mins, if needed shorter period could be configured)
  • Configure remote MTA to fallback to cleartext reliably and consistently if TLS fails
  • Configure remote MTA to always use cleartext when connecting to SMG IP
     

Here is the list of possible workarounds that can be evaluated for implementation on SMG side to restore the connectivity:

  • Ensure that Messaging Gateway is using a valid TLS certificate which has been signed by a trusted third party Certificate Authority
  • Disable Request Client Certificate in Administration > Configuration > hostname > SMTP > Inbound
  • Reduce Connection Classification "Reconnect Timeout" to 0sec for the affected classes
  • Disable Connection Classification via the Reputation > Connection Classification page
  • Disable TLS

Please note: 

  • Based on our research, such issues can be mostly avoided when using valid, public CA certificates on SMG. While SMG has the option to use self-signed or private CA signed certificates, such certificates are intended to be used in lab and/or test deployments only.
  • For any production deployments Symantec strongly recommends use of public CA certificates with Symantec Messaging Gateway.
  • Major factor is how remote MTAs handle the TLS connection, certificates negotiation and verification and cleartext fallback in case of TLS failure. If all other possibilities are exhausted, Symantec support might need to refer customers to continue troubleshooting directly with remote MTA vendor.