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Versions: 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 RFC 6712

Network Working Group                                          A. Kapoor
Internet-Draft                                               R. Tschalar
Updates: 2510 (if approved)                                     Certicom
Expires: August 9, 2004                                         T. Kause
                                                        February 9, 2004

  Internet X.509 Public Key Infrastructure -- Transport Protocols for

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 working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups. Note that other
   groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts.

   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 progress."

   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at http://

   The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at

   This Internet-Draft will expire on August 9, 2004.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004). All Rights Reserved.


   This document describes how to layer Certificate Management Protocols
   over various transport protocols.

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Table of Contents

   1.     Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   2.     Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   3.     TCP-Based Management Protocol  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   3.1    General Form . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   3.2    Version Negotiation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   3.3    TCP-message Version 10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   3.4    Detecting and Interoperating with RFC-2510 Conformant
          Implementations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   3.5    Message Types  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   3.5.1  pkiReq . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   3.5.2  pkiRep . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   3.5.3  pollReq  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   3.5.4  pollRep  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   3.5.5  finRep . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   3.5.6  errorMsgRep  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   3.5.7  VersionNotSupported errorMsgRep  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   3.5.8  GeneralClientError errorMsgRep . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   3.5.9  InvalidMessageType errorMsgRep . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   3.5.10 InvalidPollID errorMsgRep  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   3.5.11 GeneralServerError errorMsgRep . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   4.     HTTP-Based Management Protocol . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
   5.     File based protocol  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
   6.     Mail based protocol  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   7.     Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
          Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
          Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
          Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   A.     Acknowledgments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
   B.     Registration of MIME Type for E-Mail or HTTP Use . . . . .  20
          Intellectual Property and Copyright Statements . . . . . .  22

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1. Introduction

   Well defined transport mechanisms are required for Certificate
   Management Protocol [CMP] in order to allow end entities, RAs and CAs
   to pass PKI messages between them.

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2. Requirements

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT",
   "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document (in uppercase,
   as shown) are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

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3. TCP-Based Management Protocol

   While this section is called TCP-Based and the messages are called
   TCP-message's, the same protocol can be used over any reliable,
   connection oriented transport protocol (e.g. SNA, DECnet, etc.). This
   protocol is suitable for cases where an end entity (or an RA)
   initiates a transaction and can poll to pick up the results.

   The client sends a TCP-message to the server, and the server responds
   with another TCP-message. Note that a response MUST be sent for every
   request, even if the encapsulated CMP message in the request does not
   have a corresponding response.

   The protocol basically assumes a listener process on an RA or CA
   which can accept TCP-messages on a well-defined port (default port
   number is 829). Typically a client initiates connection to the server
   and submits a PKI message. The server replies with a PKI message or
   with a reference number to be used later when polling for the actual
   PKI message response.

   If a polling-reference was supplied then the client will send a
   polling request using this polling-reference after waiting for at
   least the specified time. The server may again reply with a
   polling-reference or with the actual PKI message response.

   When the final PKI response message has been picked up by the client
   then no new polling reference is supplied.

   If a transaction is initiated by a PKI entity (RA or CA) then an end
   entity must either supply a listener process or be supplied with a
   polling reference (see below) in order to allow it to pick up the PKI
   message from the PKI management component.

3.1 General Form

   A TCP-message consists of:

      length (32-bits)

      version (8-bits)

      flags (variable length)

      message-type (8-bits)

      value (defined below)

   The length field contains the number of octets of the remainder of

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   the TCP-message (i.e., number of octets of <value> plus
   <flags-length> plus 2). All bit values in this protocol are specified
   to be in network byte order

   The version field indicates the version of the TCP-message. It MUST
   be incremented for each specification which changes the flags field
   in a way that is not fully backwards compatible with the previous
   version (e.g. when the length of the flags field is changed).

   The flags field is for transporting TCP-message specific data. The
   length of this field is version dependent and is fixed for a given

   The message-type field is used to indicate the type of TCP-message.

   The value field contains message-type dependent data.

3.2 Version Negotiation

   If a client knows the protocol version(s) supported by the server
   (e.g. from a previous TCP-message exchange or via some out-of-band
   means) then it SHOULD send a TCP-message with the highest version
   supported both by it and the server. If a client does not know what
   version(s) the server supports then it SHOULD send a TCP-message
   using the highest version it supports.

   If a server receives a TCP-message version that it supports, then it
   MUST reply with a TCP-message of the same version. If the version
   received is higher than what the server supports, it MUST send back a
   VersionNotSupported errorMsgRep (defined below) containing the
   highest version it supports.

3.3 TCP-message Version 10

   The TCP-message version will be 10 for this document. The number has
   deliberately been chosen to prevent [RFC2510] compliant applications
   from treating it as a valid message type. Applications receiving a
   version less than 10 SHOULD interpret the message as being an
   [RFC2510] style message.

   The length of the flags field for this version is 1 octet. The LSB is
   used to indicate a connection close; all other bits in the flags
   octet MUST be ignored by receivers, and MUST be set to zero by

   By default connections are kept open after the receipt of a response.
   Either party (client or server) MAY set the connection close bit at
   any time.  If the connection close bit is set on a request, then the

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   server MUST set the bit in the response and close the connection
   after sending the response. If the bit is set on a response from the
   server, the client MUST NOT send any further requests on that
   connection. Applications MAY decide to close an idle connection (one
   on which no response is outstanding) after some time-out. Because of
   the problem where a client sends a request and the server closes the
   connection while the request is still in flight, clients SHOULD
   automatically retry a request for which no part of the response could
   be read due to a connection close or reset.

   If the connection is kept open, it MUST only be used for subsequent
   request/response transactions started by the client - the server MUST
   NOT use it to send requests to the client. Different transactions may
   be freely interwoven on the same connection. E.g. a CR/CP need not
   immediately be followed by the Confirm, but may be followed by any
   other request from a different transaction.

3.4 Detecting and Interoperating with RFC-2510 Conformant

   Servers wishing to interoperate with clients conforming to [RFC2510]
   can do so by treating any received message with a version less than
   10 as an [RFC2510] message and responding in that format. Servers not
   wishing to support [RFC2510] messages MUST respond with a [RFC2510]

   Clients wishing to interoperate with [RFC2510] compliant servers
   SHOULD treat a response with a version less than 10 as an [RFC2510]
   style message. If this message is an errorMsgRep (message-type 06)
   then the client MAY automatically retry the request using the
   [RFC2510] format; if the message is not an errorMsgRep or the
   implementation does not wish to support [RFC2510] then it MUST abort
   the corresponding CMP transaction.

3.5 Message Types

   message-types 0-127 are reserved and will be issued under IANA
   auspices. message-types 128-255 are reserved for application use.

   The message-type's currently defined are:

      Message name            Message-type

      pkiReq                  '00'H

      pollRep                 '01'H

      pollReq                 '02'H

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      finRep                  '03'H

      pkiRep                  '05'H

      errorMsgRep             '06'H

   If server receives an unknown message-type then it MUST reply with an
   InvalidMessageType errorMsgRep. If a client receives an unknown
   message-type then it MUST abort the CMP transaction.

   The different TCP-messages are discussed in the following sections:

3.5.1 pkiReq

   The pkiReq is to be used to carry a PKIMessage from the client to the
   server.  The <value> portion of this TCP-message will contain:
   DER-encoded PKIMessage.

   The type of PKIMessages that can be carried by this TCP-message are:

      CRL Announcement

      Certificate Confirmation

      Poll Request

      Subscription Request

      CA Key Update Announcement

      Certificate Announcement

      Certification Request

      Cross-Certification Request

      Error Message

      General Message

      Initialization Request

      Key Recovery Request

      Key Update Request

      Nested Message

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      PKCS-10 Request

      POP Response

      Revocation Request

3.5.2 pkiRep

   This TCP-message is to be used to send back the response to the
   request. The <value> portion of the pkiRep will contain: DER encoded
   PKI message

   The type of PKIMessages that can be carried by this TCP-message are:


      Poll Response

      Subscription Response

      Certification Response

      Error Message

      General Response

      Initialization Response

      Key Recovery Response

      Key Update Response

      POP Challenge

      Revocation Response

3.5.3 pollReq

   The pollReq will be the used by the client to check the status of a
   pending TCP-message.  The <value> portion of the pollReq will

      polling-reference (32 bits)

   The <polling-reference> MUST be the one returned via the pollRep

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3.5.4 pollRep

   The pollRep will be the response sent by the server to the client
   when there are no TCP-message response ready.  The <value> portion of
   the pollRep will contain:

      polling-reference (32 bits)

      time-to-check-back (32 bits)

   The <polling-reference> is a unique 32-bit number sent by the server.
   The <time-to-check-back> is the time in seconds indicating the
   minimum interval after which the client SHOULD check the status
   again. The duration for which the server keeps the
   <polling-reference> unique is left to the implementation.

3.5.5 finRep

   finRep is sent by the server whenever no other response applies (such
   as after receiving a CMP pkiConf), and usually indicates the end of
   the CMP transaction. The <value> portion of the finRep SHALL contain:

      '00'H (8 bits)

3.5.6 errorMsgRep

   This TCP-message is sent when a TCP-message level protocol error is
   detected. Please note that PKIError messages MUST NOT be sent using
   this. Examples of TCP-message level errors are:

   1.  Invalid protocol version

   2.  Invalid TCP message-type

   3.  Invalid polling reference number

   The %lt;value> field of the TCP-message SHALL contain:

      error-type (16-bits)

      data-length (16-bits)

      data (<data-length> octets)

      UTF8 String (SHOULD include an [RFC3066] language tag, as
      described in [RFC2482])

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   The <error-type> is of the form MMNN where M and N are hex digits
   (0-F) and MM represents the major category and NN the minor. The
   major categories defined by this specification are:

      '01'H   TCP-message version negotiation

      '02'H   client errors

      '03'H   server errors

   The major categories '80'H-'FF'H are reserved for application use.

   The <data-length> and <data> are additional information about the
   error to be used by programs for further processing and recovery.
   <data-length> contains the length of the <data> field in number of
   octets. Error messages not needing additional information to be
   conveyed MUST set the <data-length> to 0.

   The UTF8 text string is for user readable error messages. Note that
   it does not contain a terminating null character at the end.

3.5.7 VersionNotSupported errorMsgRep

   The VersionNotSupported errorMsgRep is defined as follows:

      error-type:                        '0101'H

      data-length:                             1

      data:                            <version>

      UTF8-text String:   implementation defined

   where <version> is the highest version the server supports.

3.5.8 GeneralClientError errorMsgRep

   The GeneralClientError errorMsgRep is defined as follows:

      error-type:                        '0200'H

      data-length:                             0

      data:                              <empty>

      UTF8-text String:   implementation defined

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3.5.9 InvalidMessageType errorMsgRep

   The InvalidMessageType errorMsgRep is defined as follows:

      error-type:                        '0201'H

      data-length:                             1

      data:                       <message-type>

      UTF8-text String:   implementation defined

   where <message-type> is the message-type received by the server.

3.5.10 InvalidPollID errorMsgRep

   The InvalidPollID errorMsgRep is defined as follows:

      error-type:                        '0202'H

      data-length:                             4

      data:                  <polling-reference>

      UTF8-text String:   implementation defined

   where <polling-reference> is the polling-reference received by the

3.5.11 GeneralServerError errorMsgRep

   The GeneralServerError errorMsgRep is defined as follows:

      error-type:                        '0300'H

      data-length:                             0

      data:                              <empty>

      UTF8-text String:   implementation defined

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4. HTTP-Based Management Protocol

   A client creates a TCP-message, as specified in section 2.0 XXX . The
   message is then sent as the entity-body of an HTTP POST request as
   specified in [RFC2616]. If the HTTP request is successful then the
   server returns a similar message in the body of the response. The
   response status code in this case MUST be 200; other 2xx codes MUST
   NOT be used. The content type of the request and response MUST be
   "application/pkixcmp". Applications MAY wish to also recognized and
   use the "application/pkixcmp-poll" MIME type (specified in earlier
   versions of this document) in order to support backward compatibility
   wherever applicable. Content codings may be applied.

   Note that a server may return any 1xx, 3xx, 4xx, or 5xx code if the
   HTTP request needs further handling or is otherwise not acceptable.

   Because in general CMP messages are not cacheable, requests and
   responses should include a "Cache-Control: no-cache" (and, if either
   side uses HTTP/1.0, a "Pragma: no-cache") to prevent the client from
   getting cached responses. This is especially important for polling
   requests and responses.

   Connection management SHOULD be based on the HTTP provided mechanisms
   (Connection and Proxy-Connection header fields) and not on the
   connection flag carried in the TCP-message.

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5. File based protocol

   A file containing a PKI message MUST contain only the DER encoding of
   one PKI message, i.e., there MUST be no extraneous header or trailer
   information in the file.

   Such files can be used to transport PKI messages using, e.g., FTP.

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6. Mail based protocol

   This subsection specifies a means for conveying ASN.1-encoded
   messages for the protocol exchanges via Internet mail ([RFC821]. A
   simple MIME object is specified as follows.

         Content-Type: application/pkixcmp
         Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64

         <<the ASN.1 DER-encoded PKIX-CMP message, base64-encoded>>

   This MIME object can be sent and received using common MIME
   processing engines and provides a simple Internet mail transport for
   PKIX-CMP messages.  Implementations MAY wish to also recognize and
   use the "application/x-pkixcmp" MIME type (specified in earlier
   versions of this document) in order to support backward compatibility
   wherever applicable.

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7. Security Considerations

   Three aspects need to be considered by server side implementors:

   1.  There is no security at the TCP and HTTP protocol level (unless
       tunneled via SSL/TLS) and thus TCP-message should not be used to
       change state of the transaction.  Change of state should be done
       on the signed PKIMessage being carried within the TCP-message.

   2.  If the server is going to be sending messages with sensitive
       information (not meant for public consumption) in the clear, it
       is RECOMMENDED that the server send back the message directly and
       not use the pollRep.

   3.  The polling request/response mechanism can be used for all kinds
       of denial of service attacks.  It is RECOMMENDED that the server
       not change the polling-reference between polling requests.

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Normative References

   [CMP]      Adams, C., Farrell, S., Kause, T. and T. Mononen,
              "Internet X.509 Public Key Infrastructure -- Certificate
              Management Protocol (CMP)", RFC 2510bis, January 0000.

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [RFC2482]  Whistler, K. and G. Adams, "Language Tagging in Unicode
              Plain Text", RFC 2482, January 1999.

   [RFC2616]  Fielding, R., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Frystyk, H.,
              Masinter, L., Leach, P. and T. Berners-Lee, "Hypertext
              Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1", RFC 2616, June 1999.

   [RFC3066]  Alvestrand, H., "Tags for the Identification of
              Languages", BCP 47, RFC 3066, January 2001.

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Informative References

   [RFC821]  Postel, J., "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol", STD 10, RFC
             821, August 1982.

Authors' Addresses

   Amit Kapoor
   25801 Industrial Blvd
   Hayward, CA

   EMail: amit@trustpoint.com

   Ronald Tschalar
   25801 Industrial Blvd
   Hayward, CA

   EMail: ronald@trustpoint.com

   Tomi Kause
   SSH Communications Security Corp.
   Fredrikinkatu 42
   Helsinki  00100

   EMail: toka@ssh.com

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Appendix A. Acknowledgments

   The authors gratefully acknowledge the contributions of various
   members of the IETF PKIX Working Group and the ICSA CA-talk mailing
   list (a list solely devoted to discussing CMP interoperability

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Appendix B. Registration of MIME Type for E-Mail or HTTP Use

   To: ietf-types@iana.org
   Subject: Registration of MIME media type application/pkixcmp

   MIME media type name: application

   MIME subtype name: pkixcmp

   Required parameters: -

   Optional parameters: -

   Encoding considerations:

   Content may contain arbitrary octet values (the ASN.1 DER encoding
   of a PKI message, as defined in the IETF PKIX Working Group
   specifications).  base64 encoding is required for MIME e-mail; no
   encoding is necessary for HTTP.

   Security considerations:

   This MIME type may be used to transport Public-Key Infrastructure
   (PKI) messages between PKI entities.  These messages are defined by
   the IETF PKIX Working Group and are used to establish and maintain
   an Internet X.509 PKI.  There is no requirement for specific
   security mechanisms to be applied at this level if the PKI messages
   themselves are protected as defined in the PKIX specifications.

   Interoperability considerations: -

   Published specification: this document

   Applications which use this media type: Applications using
   certificate management, operational, or ancillary protocols (as
   defined by the IETF PKIX Working Group) to send PKI messages via
   E-Mail or HTTP.

   Additional information:

     Magic number (s): -
     File extension (s): ".PKI"
     Macintosh File Type Code (s): -

   Person and email address to contact for further information:
   Tomi Kause, toka@ssh.com

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   Intended usage: COMMON

   Author/Change controller: Tomi Kause

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Intellectual Property Statement

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