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EDIINT Working Group                                        Chuck Shih
draft-ietf-ediint-as2-03.txt                                Dale Moberg
Expires in six months.                                      Rik Drummond
                                                            10 February 1999

                      HTTP Transport for Secure EDI

Status of this Memo

This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance
with all provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026.

Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six
months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other
documents at any time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet Drafts
as reference material or to cite them other than as "work in

To view the current status of any Internet-Draft, please check
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This document describes how to exchange EDI documents securely
using http transport for EDI data that is packaged in MIME messages
that use public key security body parts.

Feedback Instructions:

If you want to provide feedback on this draft, follow these guidelines:

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Table of Contents

1.  Introduction
   1.1 Purpose and relation to previous work
   1.2 Overall operation

2. Stages of an HTTP EDI exchange transaction
   2.1 EDI sending using POST
    2.1.1 Response and Error Codes for POST requests
    2.1.2 Using Transport Layer Security
   2.2 Receipt Reply

3. Referenced RFCs and their contribution
   3.1  RFC 2068: Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1 [11]
   3.2  RFC ????: Transport Layer Security [13]
   3.3  RFC 1847: MIME Security Multiparts [6]
   3.4  RFC 1892: Multipart/report [10]
   3.5  RFC 1767: EDI Content [2]
   3.6  RFC 2015: PGP/MIME [4]
   3.7  RFC 2045, 2046, and 2049: MIME [1]
   3.8  RFC 2298: Message Disposition Notification [5]
   3.9  RFC 2311: S/MIME Version 2 Specification [8]
   3.10 RFC ????: MIME-based Secure EDI [12]

4. Differences between HTTP and SMTP based transport
   4.1 Unused MIME headers and operations
    4.1.1  Content-Transfer-Encoding not used
    4.1.2  Epilogue must be empty
    4.1.3  Lengthy message bodies and Message/partial
   4.2 Differences in MIME or other headers or parameters used
    4.2.1  Content-Length needed.
    4.2.2  Final-Recipient and Original Recipient
    4.2.3  Message-Id and Original-Message-Id
    4.2.3  Host header

5.  Acknowledgments

6.  References

7.  Authors' Addresses

A.  Example exchange.

1.  Introduction

    1.1 Purpose and relation to previous work

    Early work on Internet EDI focused on specifying MIME content
    types for EDI data ([2] RFC 1767). The functional requirements
    document [9], "Requirements for Interoperable Internet EDI,"
    provides extensive information on EDI security
    and the business and user processes surrounding the need for and
    use of EDI security. In addition, MIME structures
    appropriate for SMTP transport of the packaged EDI data are
    specified in ([12] "MIME-based Secure EDI" ).
    That specification also describes comprehensive security features,
    specifically data privacy, data integrity/authenticity,
    non-repudiation of origin and non-repudiation of receipt.

    In this document, it is assumed that the reader is familiar
    with the SMTP/MIME transport document, the requirements document,
    and the RFCs applied or referenced in those documents.

    This draft, like the SMTP/MIME transport document, builds on
    previous RFCs and is attempting to "re-invent" as little
    as possible.  The goal here is to specify how previously specified
    MIME messaging structures and operations can be adapted for use with
    HTTP servers and clients to obtain secure, reliable,
    and acknowledged transport for EDI data.

    The applicability statement, [12] "MIME-based Secure EDI,"
    explained the basic EDI transaction using the concept of a
    "secure transmission loop" for EDI. This loop involves
    one organization sending a signed and encrypted EDI
    interchange to another organization,
    requesting a signed receipt, followed later by the
    receiving organization sending this signed receipt back to the
    sending organization.  In other words, the following transpires:

       i. The organization sending EDI/EC data encrypts the data and
       provides a digital signature, using either PGP/MIME or S/MIME.
       In addition, they request a signed receipt.

       ii. The receiving organization decrypts the message and verifies
       the signature, resulting in verified integrity of the data and
       authenticity of the sender.

       iii. The receiving organization then sends a signed receipt
       using a signature over the hash of a message disposition
       notification, which contains a hash of the received message.

    The above describes functionality which if implemented would
    satisfy all security requirements. Other restricted subsets of
    functionality have also been characterized. In this document, the
    goal is to make use of HTTP instead of SMTP as a transport protocol,
    and make changes needed to adapt to protocol packaging differences.
    In either transport case, the body of the message is a MIME structure.
    SMTP RFC 822 headers needed for the secure transmission
    loop become either HTTP entity-headers or extension-headers
    [11, section 7.1]. Content transfer encodings (such as "base 64" and
    "quoted-printable" that have been needed in the SMTP context
    are omitted in the HTTP context.

    An option to make use of Transport Layer Security [13] to provide
    privacy is added; compression can be provided using HTTP content-codings
    [11, sections 3.5, 14.3, 14.12]. (Content codings are not be be
    confused with the MIME concept of content transfer encodings.)
    Other differences are noted in the following and emphasized again
    in the concluding section.

    Note that the key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL",
    "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted
    as  described in RFC 2119.

   1.2 Overall operation

    A HTTP POST operation [11] is used to send appropriately packaged
    EDI or other business data. The Request-URI ([11], section 9.5)
    identifies a process to unpack and handle the message data
    and to generate a reply for the client that contains a message
    disposition acknowledgement. This request/reply transaction
    provides secure, reliable, and authenticated transport for EDI
    or other business data using HTTP.

2. Stages of an HTTP EDI exchange transaction

    An EDI data file or stream is first structured into one of the
    message templates described in [12], sections 4.2.1 to 4.2.4 or
    4.3.1 to 4.3.4 for PGP/MIME or S/MIME security. If TLS is to be used,
    the typical packaging will be that provided in 4.2.2 or 4.3.2;
    that is, a multipart/signed message will be created with no
    encryption in the message. Otherwise, if privacy
    is desired, message templates 4.2.4 or 4.3.4 are used.
    Content transfer encoding MUST not be used.  A content-length
    field MUST be provided.

    To request an unsigned message disposition notification,
    additional extension headers MUST be added to the content-type
    and content-length headers in the entity header section preceding
    the message body.

    A Disposition-Notification-To [5] header is added to indicate
    that a message disposition notification is requested
    in the reply to the POST request. A Message-ID header MUST
    be added to support message reconciliation. Both "From"
    and "To" headers MUST be supplied. Other headers, especially
    "Subject" and "Date", SHOULD be supplied; these values
    are often mentioned in the human-readable section of the MDN
    to aid in identifying the original message.

    A Disposition-Notification-Options header is used to request
    a signed message disposition notification. The parameters
    used to select protocols for signed message disposition
    notification are found in [12].

    2.1 EDI sending using POST

    For sending EDI, the following protocol elements are typically
    present: a request line ([11], section 5.1), entity headers, a
    CRLF pair to mark the end of the entity headers, followed by the

    The request line will have the form: "POST Request-URI HTTP/1.1".
    The spaces must be present. The request line must be followed by a CRLF.
    The Request-URI is typically exchanged out of band,
    as part of setting up a bilateral trading partner agreement.
    Automation of this process is outside this specification but
    might involve obtaining a session URL from an authentication page,
    for example.

    The request line MUST be followed by entity headers
    specifying content length ([11] section 14.14) and content type
    [11] section 14.18. The Host request header ([11] sections 9
    and 14.23) MUST be included.

    The entity or extension headers used for requesting a message disposition
    notification (unsigned or signed) have previously been mentioned,
    as have those  ("To" "From" "Message-Id") that are needed as values
    for MDN fields.

    2.1.1 Response and Error Codes for POST requests

    The status line for response to errors in the POST request line
    will be provided by a status line with the following protocol
    elements present ( [11], section 6.1 ) : HTTP version (normally,
    HTTP/1.1), a status code, reason phrase, and CRLF.

    The status codes return status concerning HTTP operations.
    The status code should be 204 ("No Content")
    in case the request-URI process does not produce
    an entity to return. Other explicit error codes are
    documented in [11], sections 6.1.1 and throughout section 10.
    For errors in the request-URI, 400 ("Bad Request"),
    404 ("Not Found") and similar codes are appropriate status codes.
    These codes are specified in [11].

    Successful codes will be mentioned in section 2.2 below,
    where the inclusion of an entity containing the message
    disposition notification is also discussed.

    2.1.2 Using Transport Layer Security

    To use Transport Layer Security [13], the request-URI should indicate
    the appropriate scheme value, https. Usually only a multipart/signed
    message body would be sent using TLS, as encrypted message bodies
    would be redundant. Encrypted message bodies may be sent, however.

    2.2 Receipt Reply

    The response to the POST command varies depending upon whether
    a receipt has been requested and upon what kind of receipt
    has been requested.

    With no extended header requesting a receipt, and no errors
    accessing the request-URI specified processing, the status
    line in the Response to the POST request should be in the
    200 range. Status code 200 ("OK") should be used when
    an entity is returned (a signed receipt in a multipart/signed
    content type or an unsigned receipt in a multipart/report).
    The user agent application may respond with an unsolicited
    multipart/report as a message body. Entity headers for content-type
    and content-length MUST be provided.

    When a message disposition notice extension header is present
    in the POST request entity headers, then entity headers for
    the message disposition notice should be included and a message
    body containing the multipart/report [10] or multipart/signed [6]
    should be included in the Response entity headers as appropriate.
    The basic responsibilities of responding to requests are discussed
    at length in [12] section 5, and in detail within section 5.2.1.

    Message Disposition Notifications, when used in the HTTP reply
    context, will closely parallel a SMTP MDN.

    The disposition field is a required element in the machine
    readable second part of a multipart/report.
    The final-recipient-field([5] section 3.1) value SHOULD
    be derived from the entity headers of the request
    If the "To" field is missing, for signed messages,
    the value for Original-recipient may be the email
    address field from the signer's X.509 attribute for
    email addresses if that value is available.

    An application MUST report the Message-ID of a request.

    The human readable part (the first part of the multipart/report)
    SHOULD include items such as the subject, date and other information
    when those fields are present in entity header fields following the
    POST request.

    The HTTP reply SHOULD normally omit the third part of the report
    (used to return the original message or its headers in the SMTP

3. Referenced RFCs and their contribution

     3.1 RFC 2068 [11] : The HyperText Transfer Protocol, HTTP,
     provides an application level protocol for distributed hypermedia
     information systems. This standard specifies the protocol HTTP/1.1.

     3.2 RFC ???? [13] : Transport Layer Security
     Security specifies a protocol similar to SSL version 3 that provides
     communications privacy over the Internet.  Applications can
     communicate without eavesdropping, tampering, or message forgery.

     3.3 RFC 1847 [6] : MIME Security Multiparts

     This document defines security multiparts for MIME:
     multipart/encrypted and multipart/signed.

     3.4 RFC 1892 [10] : Multipart/report

     This RFC defines the use of the multipart/report content type
     that the MDN RFC 2298 [5] presupposes.

     3.5 RFC 1767 [2] :  EDI Content

     This RFC defines the use of content type "application" for ANSI
     X12 (application/EDI-X12), EDIFACT (application/EDIFACT) and
     mutually defined EDI (application/EDI-Consent).

     3.6 RFC 2015 [4] : PGP/MIME

     This RFC defines the use of content types
     "multipart/encrypted", "multipart/signed", "application/pgp
     encrypted" and "application/pgp-signature" for defining MIME PGP

     3.7 RFC 2045, 2046, and 2049 [1] : MIME

     These are the basic MIME standards, upon which all MIME related RFCs
     build, including this one.  Key contributions include definition of
     "content type", "sub-type" and "multipart", as well as encoding
     guidelines,  which establishes 7-bit US-ASCII as the canonical
     character set to be used in Internet messaging.

     3.8 RFC 2298 [5] : Message Disposition Notification

     This RFC defines how a message disposition notification
     (MDN) is requested, and the format and syntax of the MDN.
     The MDN is the basis upon which receipts and signed receipts
     are defined in this and in [12].

     3.9 RFC 2311 [8] : S/MIME Version 2 Message Specification
     This specification describes how MIME shall carry PKCS7 1.5

     3.10 RFC ???? [12] : MIME-based Secure EDI
     This applicability statement describes security patterns,
     MIME content types, and acknowledgement policies and
     mechanisms for EDI or business data transport.

4. Comparison of HTTP and SMTP based transport

    For HTTP version 1.1, TCP persistent connections are the default,
    ( [11] sections 8.1.2, 8.2, and 19.7.1).

    A number of other differences exist because HTTP does not
    conform to MIME [1] as used in SMTP transport. Relevant
    differences are summarized below.

  4.1 Unused MIME headers and operations

   4.1.1  Content-Transfer-Encoding not used in HTTP transport

    HTTP can handle binary data and so there is no need to use
    the Content transfer encodings of MIME [1]. This difference
    is discussed in [11] section 19.4.4.

   4.1.2  Epilogue must be empty

    The EBNF for a multipart [1] RFC 2046, section 5.1.1 allows
    a multipart to have trailing octets after the close delimiter.
    In [11] section 3.7.2, it is explicitly noted that multiparts
    must have null epilogues.

   4.1.3  Lengthy message bodies

    In [12], section 5.4.1, options for large file processing are
    discussed for SMTP transport. For HTTP, large files should
    be handled correctly by the TCP layer. However, [11] sections
    3.5 and 3.6 discuss some options for compressing or chunking
    entities to be transferred. Section discusses a
    pipelining option that may be useful for segmenting large
    amounts of data.

  4.2 Differences in MIME or other headers or parameters used

   4.2.1  Content-Length

    Because connections are persistent, closing a connection
    cannot be used to indicate the end of an entity. Therefore,
    [11] sections 4.4 and 14.14 indicate the need for a
    Content-Length entity header in a request.

   4.2.2 Final and Original Recipient

    The final and original recipient distinction should not
    arise for HTTP transport because SMTP aliases and mailing
    lists should not be used.

   4.2.3 Message-Id and Original-Message-Id

    The Message-Id and Original-Message-Id distinction should not
    arise for HTTP transport because SMTP MTA alterations should
    not occur.

   4.2.4 Host header

    The host request header field must be included in the
    POST request made when sending business data. This field
    is to allow one server IP address to service multiple
    hostnames, and potentially conserve IP addresses.
    See [11], sections 14.23 and 19.5.1.

5. Acknowledgments

   Carl Hage, Karen Rosenfeld and Chuck Fenton have provided valuable suggestions
   for the improvement of this applicability statement.

6. References

[1]  N. Borenstein,  N.Freed, "Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME)
     Part One: Format of Internet Message Bodies", RFC 2045,
     December 02, 1996.

     N. Borenstein, N.Freed, "Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME)
     Part Two: Media Types", RFC 2046, December 02, 1996.

     N. Borenstein, N.Freed, "Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME)
     Part Five: Conformance Criteria and Examples", RFC 2049 , December 02,

[2]  D. Crocker, "MIME Encapsulation of EDI Objects",  RFC 1767,  March
     2, 1995.

[3]  D. Crocker, "Standard for the Format of ARPA Internet Text
     Messages", STD 11,  RFC 822,  August 13, 1982.

[4]  M. Elkins, "MIME Security With Pretty Good Privacy (PGP)",  RFC
     2015, Sept. 1996.

[5]  R. Fajman, "An Extensible Message Format for Message Disposition
     Notifications", RFC 2298, March 1998.

[6]  J. Galvin, S. Murphy, S. Crocker, N. Freed,  "Security Multiparts
     for MIME: Multipart/Signed and Multipart/Encrypted", RFC 1847, Oct.
     3, 1995

[7]  J. Postel, "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol",  STD 10, RFC 821,
     August 1, 1982.

[8]  S. Dusse, P. Hoffman, B. Ramsdell, L. Lundblade, L. Repka,
     "S/MIME Version 2 Message Specification", RFC 2311.

[9]  C. Shih, "Requirements for Interoperable Internet EDI",
     Internet draft: draft-ietf-ediint-req05.txt.

[10] G. Vaudreuil, "The Multipart/Report Content Type for the Reporting
     of Mail System Administrative Messages",  RFC 1892,
     January 15, 1996.

[11] R. Fielding, J.Gettys, J. Mogul, H. Frystyk, T. Berners-Lee,
     "Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1", RFC 2068,
     January 1997.

[12] C. Shih, "MIME-based Secure EDI", Internet draft:

[13] T. Dierks, "The TLS Protocol, Version 1.0,"  Internet draft:

7.  Authors' Addresses

Chuck Shih

Dale Moberg
Sterling Commerce
4600 Lakehurst Ct.
Dublin, OH 43016 USA

Rik Drummond
The Drummond Group
5008 Bentwood Ct.
Ft. Worth, TX 76132 USA

Appendix A. Example Exchange.

   NOTE:  This example is provided as illustration only
   If the example conflicts with the previous text,
   the example is wrong.

   Likewise, the use of entity or extension fields in
   this example is not to be construed as a definition for those type
   names or extension fields.

A.1 Sending a multipart signed for trading partner 1 back to
trading partner 2. "#" indicates a comment line.

POST https://tp2server.company2.com/cgi-bin/tp1drawer.pl HTTP/1.1
Host: tp2server.company2.com
From: tp1@company1.com
To: tp2@company2.com
Date: Tue, 06 Nov 2001 12:53:01 UT
Subject: Purchase orders for 6 November 2001
Message-Id: <20011106@company1.com>
Disposition-Notification-To: tp1@company1.com
# continuation lines not used in actual HTTP protocol data unit
Content-Type: multipart/signed; boundary="20011106RsXgYlvCNW" ;
 protocol=application/pkcs7-signature;  micalg=rsa-md5
Content-Length: 3056

Content-Type: application/edi-x12
Content-Disposition: Attachment; filename=rfc1767.dat
Content-Length: 2605

ISA ...
# EDI transaction data
IEA  ...
Content-Type: application/pkcs7-signature
Content-Length: 804

# omitted binary data

Returning a signed MDN (using the previously established TLS security)
from trading partner 2 back to trading partner 1.
"#" indicates a comment line.

HTTP/1.0 200 OK
Server: HTTPEDI/1.1
Content-type: multipart/signed;
Content-Length: 1200

Content-type: multipart/report
Content-length: 1133

Content-type: text/plain
Content-length: 85

Message <20011106@company1.com> was authenticated;
EDI processing was initiated.
Content-type: message/disposition-notification
Content-length: 213

Reporting-UA: Company2UA
Original-Message-Id: <20011106@company1.com>
Original-Recipient: tp2@company2.com
X-Received-Content-MIC: w7AguNJEmhF/qIjJw6LnnA==,rsa-md5
Disposition: MDN-sent-automatically/processed


Content-Type: application/pkcs7-signature
Content-Length: 560

# Signature data omitted

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