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LinuxDig.com Request For Comments

RFC Number : 2831

Title : Using Digest Authentication as a SASL Mechanism.






Network Working Group P. Leach
Request for Comments: 2831 Microsoft
Category: Standards Track C. Newman
Innosoft
May 2000


Using Digest Authentication as a SASL Mechanism

Status of this Memo

This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
improvements. Please refer to the current edition of the 'Internet
Official Protocol Standards' (STD 1) for the standardization state
and status of this protocol. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2000). All Rights Reserved.

Abstract

This specification defines how HTTP Digest Authentication [Digest]
can be used as a SASL [RFC 2222] mechanism for any protocol that has
a SASL profile. It is intended both as an improvement over CRAM-MD5
[RFC 2195] and as a convenient way to support a single authentication
mechanism for web, mail, LDAP, and other protocols.

Table of Contents

1 INTRODUCTION.....................................................2
1.1 CONVENTIONS AND NOTATION......................................2
1.2 REQUIREMENTS..................................................3
2 AUTHENTICATION...................................................3
2.1 INITIAL AUTHENTICATION........................................3
2.1.1 Step One...................................................3
2.1.2 Step Two...................................................6
2.1.3 Step Three................................................12
2.2 SUBSEQUENT AUTHENTICATION....................................12
2.2.1 Step one..................................................13
2.2.2 Step Two..................................................13
2.3 INTEGRITY PROTECTION.........................................13
2.4 CONFIDENTIALITY PROTECTION...................................14
3 SECURITY CONSIDERATIONS.........................................15
3.1 AUTHENTICATION OF CLIENTS USING DIGEST AUTHENTICATION........15
3.2 COMPARISON OF DIGEST WITH PLAINTEXT PASSWORDS................16
3.3 REPLAY ATTACKS...............................................16



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3.4 ONLINE DICTIONARY ATTACKS....................................16
3.5 OFFLINE DICTIONARY ATTACKS...................................16
3.6 MAN IN THE MIDDLE............................................17
3.7 CHOSEN PLAINTEXT ATTACKS.....................................17
3.8 SPOOFING BY COUNTERFEIT SERVERS..............................17
3.9 STORING PASSWORDS............................................17
3.10 MULTIPLE REALMS.............................................18
3.11 SUMMARY.....................................................18
4 EXAMPLE.........................................................18
5 REFERENCES......................................................20
6 AUTHORS' ADDRESSES..............................................21
7 ABNF............................................................21
7.1 AUGMENTED BNF................................................21
7.2 BASIC RULES..................................................23
8 SAMPLE CODE.....................................................25
9 FULL COPYRIGHT STATEMENT........................................27

1 Introduction

This specification describes the use of HTTP Digest Access
Authentication as a SASL mechanism. The authentication type
associated with the Digest SASL mechanism is 'DIGEST-MD5'.

This specification is intended to be upward compatible with the
'md5-sess' algorithm of HTTP/1.1 Digest Access Authentication
specified in [Digest]. The only difference in the 'md5-sess'
algorithm is that some directives not needed in a SASL mechanism have
had their values defaulted.

There is one new feature for use as a SASL mechanism: integrity
protection on application protocol messages after an authentication
exchange.

Also, compared to CRAM-MD5, DIGEST-MD5 prevents chosen plaintext
attacks, and permits the use of third party authentication servers,
mutual authentication, and optimized reauthentication if a client has
recently authenticated to a server.

1.1 Conventions and Notation

This specification uses the same ABNF notation and lexical
conventions as HTTP/1.1 specification; see appendix A.

Let { a, b, ... } be the concatenation of the octet strings a, b, ...

Let H(s) be the 16 octet MD5 hash [RFC 1321] of the octet string s.





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Let KD(k, s) be H({k, ':', s}), i.e., the 16 octet hash of the string
k, a colon and the string s.

Let HEX(n) be the representation of the 16 octet MD5 hash n as a
string of 32 hex digits (with alphabetic characters always in lower
case, since MD5 is case sensitive).

Let HMAC(k, s) be the 16 octet HMAC-MD5 [RFC 2104] of the octet
string s using the octet string k as a key.

The value of a quoted string constant as an octet string does not
include any terminating null character.

1.2 Requirements

The key words 'MUST', 'MUST NOT', 'REQUIRED', 'SHALL', 'SHALL NOT',
'SHOULD', 'SHOULD NOT', 'RECOMMENDED', 'MAY', and 'OPTIONAL' in this
document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [RFC 2119].

An implementation is not compliant if it fails to satisfy one or more
of the MUST level requirements for the protocols it implements. An
implementation that satisfies all the MUST level and all the SHOULD
level requirements for its protocols is said to be 'unconditionally
compliant'; one that satisfies all the MUST level requirements but
not all the SHOULD level requirements for its protocols is said to be
'conditionally compliant.'

2 Authentication

The following sections describe how to use Digest as a SASL
authentication mechanism.

2.1 Initial Authentication

If the client has not recently authenticated to the server, then it
must perform 'initial authentication', as defined in this section. If
it has recently authenticated, then a more efficient form is
available, defined in the next section.

2.1.1 Step One

The server starts by sending a challenge. The data encoded in the
challenge contains a string formatted according to the rules for a
'digest-challenge' defined as follows:







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digest-challenge =
1#( realm | nonce | qop-options | stale | maxbuf | charset
algorithm | cipher-opts | auth-param )

realm = 'realm' '=' <'> realm-value <'>
realm-value = qdstr-val
nonce = 'nonce' '=' <'> nonce-value <'>
nonce-value = qdstr-val
qop-options = 'qop' '=' <'> qop-list <'>
qop-list = 1#qop-value
qop-value = 'auth' | 'auth-int' | 'auth-conf' |
token
stale = 'stale' '=' 'true'
maxbuf = 'maxbuf' '=' maxbuf-value
maxbuf-value = 1*DIGIT
charset = 'charset' '=' 'utf-8'
algorithm = 'algorithm' '=' 'md5-sess'
cipher-opts = 'cipher' '=' <'> 1#cipher-value <'>
cipher-value = '3des' | 'des' | 'rc4-40' | 'rc4' |
'rc4-56' | token
auth-param = token '=' ( token | quoted-string )

The meanings of the values of the directives used above are as
follows:

realm
Mechanistically, a string which can enable users to know which
username and password to use, in case they might have different
ones for different servers. Conceptually, it is the name of a
collection of accounts that might include the user's account. This
string should contain at least the name of the host performing the
authentication and might additionally indicate the collection of
users who might have access. An example might be
'registered_users@gotham.news.example.com'. This directive is
optional; if not present, the client SHOULD solicit it from the
user or be able to compute a default; a plausible default might be
the realm supplied by the user when they logged in to the client
system. Multiple realm directives are allowed, in which case the
user or client must choose one as the realm for which to supply to
username and password.

nonce
A server-specified data string which MUST be different each time a
digest-challenge is sent as part of initial authentication. It is
recommended that this string be base64 or hexadecimal data. Note
that since the string is passed as a quoted string, the
double-quote character is not allowed unless escaped (see section
7.2). The contents of the nonce are implementation dependent. The



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security of the implementation depends on a good choice. It is
RECOMMENDED that it contain at least 64 bits of entropy. The nonce
is opaque to the client. This directive is required and MUST
appear exactly once; if not present, or if multiple instances are
present, the client should abort the authentication exchange.

qop-options
A quoted string of one or more tokens indicating the 'quality of
protection' values supported by the server. The value 'auth'
indicates authentication; the value 'auth-int' indicates
authentication with integrity protection; the value 'auth-conf'
indicates authentication with integrity protection and encryption.
This directive is optional; if not present it defaults to 'auth'.
The client MUST ignore unrecognized options; if the client
recognizes no option, it should abort the authentication exchange.

stale
The 'stale' directive is not used in initial authentication. See
the next section for its use in subsequent authentications. This
directive may appear at most once; if multiple instances are
present, the client should abort the authentication exchange.

maxbuf
A number indicating the size of the largest buffer the server is
able to receive when using 'auth-int' or 'auth-conf'. If this
directive is missing, the default value is 65536. This directive
may appear at most once; if multiple instances are present, the
client should abort the authentication exchange.

charset
This directive, if present, specifies that the server supports
UTF-8 encoding for the username and password. If not present, the
username and password must be encoded in ISO 8859-1 (of which
US-ASCII is a subset). The directive is needed for backwards
compatibility with HTTP Digest, which only supports ISO 8859-1.
This directive may appear at most once; if multiple instances are
present, the client should abort the authentication exchange.

algorithm
This directive is required for backwards compatibility with HTTP
Digest., which supports other algorithms. . This directive is
required and MUST appear exactly once; if not present, or if
multiple instances are present, the client should abort the
authentication exchange.







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cipher-opts
A list of ciphers that the server supports. This directive must be
present exactly once if 'auth-conf' is offered in the
'qop-options' directive, in which case the '3des' and 'des' modes
are mandatory-to-implement. The client MUST ignore unrecognized
options; if the client recognizes no option, it should abort the
authentication exchange.

des
the Data Encryption Standard (DES) cipher [FIPS] in cipher
block chaining (CBC) mode with a 56 bit key.

3des
the 'triple DES' cipher in CBC mode with EDE with the same key
for each E stage (aka 'two keys mode') for a total key length
of 112 bits.

rc4, rc4-40, rc4-56
the RC4 cipher with a 128 bit, 40 bit, and 56 bit key,
respectively.

auth-param This construct allows for future extensions; it may appear
more than once. The client MUST ignore any unrecognized
directives.

For use as a SASL mechanism, note that the following changes are made
to 'digest-challenge' from HTTP: the following Digest options (called
'directives' in HTTP terminology) are unused (i.e., MUST NOT be sent,
and MUST be ignored if received):

opaque
domain

The size of a digest-challenge MUST be less than 2048 bytes.

2.1.2 Step Two

The client makes note of the 'digest-challenge' and then responds
with a string formatted and computed according to the rules for a
'digest-response' defined as follows:











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digest-response = 1#( username | realm | nonce | cnonce |
nonce-count | qop | digest-uri | response |
maxbuf | charset | cipher | authzid |
auth-param )

username = 'username' '=' <'> username-value <'>
username-value = qdstr-val
cnonce = 'cnonce' '=' <'> cnonce-value <'>
cnonce-value = qdstr-val
nonce-count = 'nc' '=' nc-value
nc-value = 8LHEX
qop = 'qop' '=' qop-value
digest-uri = 'digest-uri' '=' <'> digest-uri-value <'>
digest-uri-value = serv-type '/' host [ '/' serv-name ]
serv-type = 1*ALPHA
host = 1*( ALPHA | DIGIT | '-' | '.' )
serv-name = host
response = 'response' '=' response-value
response-value = 32LHEX
LHEX = '0' | '1' | '2' | '3' |
'4' | '5' | '6' | '7' |
'8' | '9' | 'a' | 'b' |
'c' | 'd' | 'e' | 'f'
cipher = 'cipher' '=' cipher-value
authzid = 'authzid' '=' <'> authzid-value <'>
authzid-value = qdstr-val


username
The user's name in the specified realm, encoded according to the
value of the 'charset' directive. This directive is required and
MUST be present exactly once; otherwise, authentication fails.

realm
The realm containing the user's account. This directive is
required if the server provided any realms in the
'digest-challenge', in which case it may appear exactly once and
its value SHOULD be one of those realms. If the directive is
missing, 'realm-value' will set to the empty string when computing
A1 (see below for details).

nonce
The server-specified data string received in the preceding
digest-challenge. This directive is required and MUST be present
exactly once; otherwise, authentication fails.






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cnonce
A client-specified data string which MUST be different each time a
digest-response is sent as part of initial authentication. The
cnonce-value is an opaque quoted string value provided by the
client and used by both client and server to avoid chosen
plaintext attacks, and to provide mutual authentication. The
security of the implementation depends on a good choice. It is
RECOMMENDED that it contain at least 64 bits of entropy. This
directive is required and MUST be present exactly once; otherwise,
authentication fails.

nonce-count
The nc-value is the hexadecimal count of the number of requests
(including the current request) that the client has sent with the
nonce value in this request. For example, in the first request
sent in response to a given nonce value, the client sends
'nc=00000001'. The purpose of this directive is to allow the
server to detect request replays by maintaining its own copy of
this count - if the same nc-value is seen twice, then the request
is a replay. See the description below of the construction of
the response value. This directive may appear at most once; if
multiple instances are present, the client should abort the
authentication exchange.

qop
Indicates what 'quality of protection' the client accepted. If
present, it may appear exactly once and its value MUST be one of
the alternatives in qop-options. If not present, it defaults to
'auth'. These values affect the computation of the response. Note
that this is a single token, not a quoted list of alternatives.

serv-type
Indicates the type of service, such as 'www' for web service,
'ftp' for FTP service, 'smtp' for mail delivery service, etc. The
service name as defined in the SASL profile for the protocol see
section 4 of [RFC 2222], registered in the IANA registry of
'service' elements for the GSSAPI host-based service name form
[RFC 2078].

host
The DNS host name or IP address for the service requested. The
DNS host name must be the fully-qualified canonical name of the
host. The DNS host name is the preferred form; see notes on server
processing of the digest-uri.







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serv-name
Indicates the name of the service if it is replicated. The service
is considered to be replicated if the client's service-location
process involves resolution using standard DNS lookup operations,
and if these operations involve DNS records (such as SRV, or MX)
which resolve one DNS name into a set of other DNS names. In this
case, the initial name used by the client is the 'serv-name', and
the final name is the 'host' component. For example, the incoming
mail service for 'example.com' may be replicated through the use
of MX records stored in the DNS, one of which points at an SMTP
server called 'mail3.example.com'; it's 'serv-name' would be
'example.com', it's 'host' would be 'mail3.example.com'. If the
service is not replicated, or the serv-name is identical to the
host, then the serv-name component MUST be omitted.

digest-uri
Indicates the principal name of the service with which the client
wishes to connect, formed from the serv-type, host, and serv-name.
For example, the FTP service on 'ftp.example.com' would have a
'digest-uri' value of 'ftp/ftp.example.com'; the SMTP server from
the example above would have a 'digest-uri' value of
'smtp/mail3.example.com/example.com'.

Servers SHOULD check that the supplied value is correct. This will
detect accidental connection to the incorrect server. It is also so
that clients will be trained to provide values that will work with
implementations that use a shared back-end authentication service
that can provide server authentication.

The serv-type component should match the service being offered. The
host component should match one of the host names of the host on
which the service is running, or it's IP address. Servers SHOULD NOT
normally support the IP address form, because server authentication
by IP address is not very useful; they should only do so if the DNS
is unavailable or unreliable. The serv-name component should match
one of the service's configured service names.

This directive may appear at most once; if multiple instances are
present, the client should abort the authentication exchange.

Note: In the HTTP use of Digest authentication, the digest-uri is the
URI (usually a URL) of the resource requested -- hence the name of
the directive.

response
A string of 32 hex digits computed as defined below, which proves
that the user knows a password. This directive is required and
MUST be present exactly once; otherwise, authentication fails.



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maxbuf
A number indicating the size of the largest buffer the client is
able to receive. If this directive is missing, the default value
is 65536. This directive may appear at most once; if multiple
instances are present, the server should abort the authentication
exchange.

charset
This directive, if present, specifies that the client has used
UTF-8 encoding for the username and password. If not present, the
username and password must be encoded in ISO 8859-1 (of which
US-ASCII is a subset). The client should send this directive only
if the server has indicated it supports UTF-8. The directive is
needed for backwards compatibility with HTTP Digest, which only
supports ISO 8859-1.

LHEX
32 hex digits, where the alphabetic characters MUST be lower case,
because MD5 is not case insensitive.

cipher
The cipher chosen by the client. This directive MUST appear
exactly once if 'auth-conf' is negotiated; if required and not
present, authentication fails.

authzid
The 'authorization ID' as per RFC 2222, encoded in UTF-8. This
directive is optional. If present, and the authenticating user has
sufficient privilege, and the server supports it, then after
authentication the server will use this identity for making all
accesses and access checks. If the client specifies it, and the
server does not support it, then the response-value will be
incorrect, and authentication will fail.

The size of a digest-response MUST be less than 4096 bytes.

2.1.2.1 Response-value

The definition of 'response-value' above indicates the encoding for
its value -- 32 lower case hex characters. The following definitions
show how the value is computed.

Although qop-value and components of digest-uri-value may be
case-insensitive, the case which the client supplies in step two is
preserved for the purpose of computing and verifying the
response-value.

response-value =



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HEX( KD ( HEX(H(A1)),
{ nonce-value, ':' nc-value, ':',
cnonce-value, ':', qop-value, ':', HEX(H(A2)) }))

If authzid is specified, then A1 is


A1 = { H( { username-value, ':', realm-value, ':', passwd } ),
':', nonce-value, ':', cnonce-value, ':', authzid-value }

If authzid is not specified, then A1 is


A1 = { H( { username-value, ':', realm-value, ':', passwd } ),
':', nonce-value, ':', cnonce-value }

where

passwd = *OCTET

The 'username-value', 'realm-value' and 'passwd' are encoded
according to the value of the 'charset' directive. If 'charset=UTF-8'
is present, and all the characters of either 'username-value' or
'passwd' are in the ISO 8859-1 character set, then it must be
converted to ISO 8859-1 before being hashed. This is so that
authentication databases that store the hashed username, realm and
password (which is common) can be shared compatibly with HTTP, which
specifies ISO 8859-1. A sample implementation of this conversion is
in section 8.

If the 'qop' directive's value is 'auth', then A2 is:

A2 = { 'AUTHENTICATE:', digest-uri-value }

If the 'qop' value is 'auth-int' or 'auth-conf' then A2 is:

A2 = { 'AUTHENTICATE:', digest-uri-value,
':00000000000000000000000000000000' }

Note that 'AUTHENTICATE:' must be in upper case, and the second
string constant is a string with a colon followed by 32 zeros.

These apparently strange values of A2 are for compatibility with
HTTP; they were arrived at by setting 'Method' to 'AUTHENTICATE' and
the hash of the entity body to zero in the HTTP digest calculation of
A2.

Also, in the HTTP usage of Digest, several directives in the



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'digest-challenge' sent by the server have to be returned by the
client in the 'digest-response'. These are:

opaque
algorithm

These directives are not needed when Digest is used as a SASL
mechanism (i.e., MUST NOT be sent, and MUST be ignored if received).

2.1.3 Step Three

The server receives and validates the 'digest-response'. The server
checks that the nonce-count is '00000001'. If it supports subsequent
authentication (see section 2.2), it saves the value of the nonce and
the nonce-count. It sends a message formatted as follows:

response-auth = 'rspauth' '=' response-value

where response-value is calculated as above, using the values sent in
step two, except that if qop is 'auth', then A2 is

A2 = { ':', digest-uri-value }

And if qop is 'auth-int' or 'auth-conf' then A2 is

A2 = { ':', digest-uri-value, ':00000000000000000000000000000000' }

Compared to its use in HTTP, the following Digest directives in the
'digest-response' are unused:

nextnonce
qop
cnonce
nonce-count

2.2 Subsequent Authentication

If the client has previously authenticated to the server, and
remembers the values of username, realm, nonce, nonce-count, cnonce,
and qop that it used in that authentication, and the SASL profile for
a protocol permits an initial client response, then it MAY perform
'subsequent authentication', as defined in this section.









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2.2.1 Step one

The client uses the values from the previous authentication and sends
an initial response with a string formatted and computed according to
the rules for a 'digest-response', as defined above, but with a
nonce-count one greater than used in the last 'digest-response'.

2.2.2 Step Two

The server receives the 'digest-response'. If the server does not
support subsequent authentication, then it sends a
'digest-challenge', and authentication proceeds as in initial
authentication. If the server has no saved nonce and nonce-count from
a previous authentication, then it sends a 'digest-challenge', and
authentication proceeds as in initial authentication. Otherwise, the
server validates the 'digest-response', checks that the nonce-count
is one greater than that used in the previous authentication using
that nonce, and saves the new value of nonce-count.

If the response is invalid, then the server sends a
'digest-challenge', and authentication proceeds as in initial
authentication (and should be configurable to log an authentication
failure in some sort of security audit log, since the failure may be
a symptom of an attack). The nonce-count MUST NOT be incremented in
this case: to do so would allow a denial of service attack by sending
an out-of-order nonce-count.

If the response is valid, the server MAY choose to deem that
authentication has succeeded. However, if it has been too long since
the previous authentication, or for any other reason, the server MAY
send a new 'digest-challenge' with a new value for nonce. The
challenge MAY contain a 'stale' directive with value 'true', which
says that the client may respond to the challenge using the password
it used in the previous response; otherwise, the client must solicit
the password anew from the user. This permits the server to make sure
that the user has presented their password recently. (The directive
name refers to the previous nonce being stale, not to the last use of
the password.) Except for the handling of 'stale', after sending the
'digest-challenge' authentication proceeds as in the case of initial
authentication.

2.3 Integrity Protection

If the server offered 'qop=auth-int' and the client responded
'qop=auth-int', then subsequent messages, up to but not including the
next subsequent authentication, between the client and the server





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MUST be integrity protected. Using as a base session key the value of
H(A1) as defined above the client and server calculate a pair of
message integrity keys as follows.

The key for integrity protecting messages from client to server is:

Kic = MD5({H(A1),
'Digest session key to client-to-server signing key magic constant'})

The key for integrity protecting messages from server to client is:

Kis = MD5({H(A1),
'Digest session key to server-to-client signing key magic constant'})

where MD5 is as specified in [RFC 1321]. If message integrity is
negotiated, a MAC block for each message is appended to the message.
The MAC block is 16 bytes: the first 10 bytes of the HMAC-MD5 [RFC
2104] of the message, a 2-byte message type number in network byte
order with value 1, and the 4-byte sequence number in network byte
order. The message type is to allow for future extensions such as
rekeying.

MAC(Ki, SeqNum, msg) = (HMAC(Ki, {SeqNum, msg})[0..9], 0x0001,
SeqNum)

where Ki is Kic for messages sent by the client and Kis for those
sent by the server. The sequence number is initialized to zero, and
incremented by one for each message sent.

Upon receipt, MAC(Ki, SeqNum, msg) is computed and compared with the
received value; the message is discarded if they differ.

2.4 Confidentiality Protection

If the server sent a 'cipher-opts' directive and the client responded
with a 'cipher' directive, then subsequent messages between the
client and the server MUST be confidentiality protected. Using as a
base session key the value of H(A1) as defined above the client and
server calculate a pair of message integrity keys as follows.

The key for confidentiality protecting messages from client to server
is:

Kcc = MD5({H(A1)[0..n],
'Digest H(A1) to client-to-server sealing key magic constant'})

The key for confidentiality protecting messages from server to client
is:



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Kcs = MD5({H(A1)[0..n],
'Digest H(A1) to server-to-client sealing key magic constant'})

where MD5 is as specified in [RFC 1321]. For cipher 'rc4-40' n is 5;
for 'rc4-56' n is 7; for the rest n is 16. The key for the 'rc-*'
ciphers is all 16 bytes of Kcc or Kcs; the key for 'des' is the first
7 bytes; the key for '3des' is the first 14 bytes. The IV for 'des'
and '3des' is the last 8 bytes of Kcc or Kcs.

If message confidentiality is negotiated, each message is encrypted
with the chosen cipher and a MAC block is appended to the message.

The MAC block is a variable length padding prefix followed by 16
bytes formatted as follows: the first 10 bytes of the HMAC-MD5 [RFC
2104] of the message, a 2-byte message type number in network byte
order with value 1, and the 4-byte sequence number in network byte
order. If the blocksize of the chosen cipher is not 1 byte, the
padding prefix is one or more octets each containing the number of
padding bytes, such that total length of the encrypted part of the
message is a multiple of the blocksize. The padding and first 10
bytes of the MAC block are encrypted along with the message.

SEAL(Ki, Kc, SeqNum, msg) =
{CIPHER(Kc, {msg, pad, HMAC(Ki, {SeqNum, msg})[0..9])}), 0x0001,
SeqNum}

where CIPHER is the chosen cipher, Ki and Kc are Kic and Kcc for
messages sent by the client and Kis and Kcs for those sent by the
server. The sequence number is initialized to zero, and incremented
by one for each message sent.

Upon receipt, the message is decrypted, HMAC(Ki, {SeqNum, msg}) is
computed and compared with the received value; the message is
discarded if they differ.

3 Security Considerations

3.1 Authentication of Clients using Digest Authentication

Digest Authentication does not provide a strong authentication
mechanism, when compared to public key based mechanisms, for example.
However, since it prevents chosen plaintext attacks, it is stronger
than (e.g.) CRAM-MD5, which has been proposed for use with LDAP [10],
POP and IMAP (see RFC 2195 [9]). It is intended to replace the much
weaker and even more dangerous use of plaintext passwords; however,
since it is still a password based mechanism it avoids some of the
potential deployabilty issues with public-key, OTP or similar
mechanisms.



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Digest Authentication offers no confidentiality protection beyond
protecting the actual password. All of the rest of the challenge and
response are available to an eavesdropper, including the user's name
and authentication realm.

3.2 Comparison of Digest with Plaintext Passwords

The greatest threat to the type of transactions for which these
protocols are used is network snooping. This kind of transaction
might involve, for example, online access to a mail service whose use
is restricted to paying subscribers. With plaintext password
authentication an eavesdropper can obtain the password of the user.
This not only permits him to access anything in the database, but,
often worse, will permit access to anything else the user protects
with the same password.

3.3 Replay Attacks

Replay attacks are defeated if the client or the server chooses a
fresh nonce for each authentication, as this specification requires.

3.4 Online dictionary attacks

If the attacker can eavesdrop, then it can test any overheard
nonce/response pairs against a (potentially very large) list of
common words. Such a list is usually much smaller than the total
number of possible passwords. The cost of computing the response for
each password on the list is paid once for each challenge.

The server can mitigate this attack by not allowing users to select
passwords that are in a dictionary.

3.5 Offline dictionary attacks

If the attacker can choose the challenge, then it can precompute the
possible responses to that challenge for a list of common words. Such
a list is usually much smaller than the total number of possible
passwords. The cost of computing the response for each password on
the list is paid just once.

Offline dictionary attacks are defeated if the client chooses a fresh
nonce for each authentication, as this specification requires.









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3.6 Man in the Middle

Digest authentication is vulnerable to 'man in the middle' (MITM)
attacks. Clearly, a MITM would present all the problems of
eavesdropping. But it also offers some additional opportunities to
the attacker.

A possible man-in-the-middle attack would be to substitute a weaker
qop scheme for the one(s) sent by the server; the server will not be
able to detect this attack. For this reason, the client should always
use the strongest scheme that it understands from the choices
offered, and should never choose a scheme that does not meet its
minimum requirements.

3.7 Chosen plaintext attacks

A chosen plaintext attack is where a MITM or a malicious server can
arbitrarily choose the challenge that the client will use to compute
the response. The ability to choose the challenge is known to make
cryptanalysis much easier [8].

However, Digest does not permit the attack to choose the challenge as
long as the client chooses a fresh nonce for each authentication, as
this specification requires.

3.8 Spoofing by Counterfeit Servers

If a user can be led to believe that she is connecting to a host
containing information protected by a password she knows, when in
fact she is connecting to a hostile server, then the hostile server
can obtain challenge/response pairs where it was able to partly
choose the challenge. There is no known way that this can be
exploited.

3.9 Storing passwords

Digest authentication requires that the authenticating agent (usually
the server) store some data derived from the user's name and password
in a 'password file' associated with a given realm. Normally this
might contain pairs consisting of username and H({ username-value,
':', realm-value, ':', passwd }), which is adequate to compute H(A1)
as described above without directly exposing the user's password.

The security implications of this are that if this password file is
compromised, then an attacker gains immediate access to documents on
the server using this realm. Unlike, say a standard UNIX password
file, this information need not be decrypted in order to access
documents in the server realm associated with this file. On the other



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hand, decryption, or more likely a brute force attack, would be
necessary to obtain the user's password. This is the reason that the
realm is part of the digested data stored in the password file. It
means that if one Digest authentication password file is compromised,
it does not automatically compromise others with the same username
and password (though it does expose them to brute force attack).

There are two important security consequences of this. First the
password file must be protected as if it contained plaintext
passwords, because for the purpose of accessing documents in its
realm, it effectively does.

A second consequence of this is that the realm string should be
unique among all realms that any single user is likely to use. In
particular a realm string should include the name of the host doing
the authentication.

3.10 Multiple realms

Use of multiple realms may mean both that compromise of a the
security database for a single realm does not compromise all
security, and that there are more things to protect in order to keep
the whole system secure.

3.11 Summary

By modern cryptographic standards Digest Authentication is weak,
compared to (say) public key based mechanisms. But for a large range
of purposes it is valuable as a replacement for plaintext passwords.
Its strength may vary depending on the implementation.

4 Example

This example shows the use of the Digest SASL mechanism with the
IMAP4 AUTHENTICATE command [RFC 2060].

In this example, 'C:' and 'S:' represent a line sent by the client or
server respectively including a CRLF at the end. Linebreaks and
indentation within a 'C:' or 'S:' are editorial and not part of the
protocol. The password in this example was 'secret'. Note that the
base64 encoding of the challenges and responses is part of the IMAP4
AUTHENTICATE command, not part of the Digest specification itself.

S: * OK elwood.innosoft.com PMDF IMAP4rev1 V6.0-9
C: c CAPABILITY
S: * CAPABILITY IMAP4 IMAP4rev1 ACL LITERAL+ NAMESPACE QUOTA
UIDPLUS AUTH=CRAM-MD5 AUTH=DIGEST-MD5 AUTH=PLAIN
S: c OK Completed



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C: a AUTHENTICATE DIGEST-MD5
S: + cmVhbG09ImVsd29vZC5pbm5vc29mdC5jb20iLG5vbmNlPSJPQTZNRzl0
RVFHbTJoaCIscW9wPSJhdXRoIixhbGdvcml0aG09bWQ1LXNlc3MsY2hh
cnNldD11dGYtOA==
C: Y2hhcnNldD11dGYtOCx1c2VybmFtZT0iY2hyaXMiLHJlYWxtPSJlbHdvb2
QuaW5ub3NvZnQuY29tIixub25jZT0iT0E2TUc5dEVRR20yaGgiLG5jPTAw
MDAwMDAxLGNub25jZT0iT0E2TUhYaDZWcVRyUmsiLGRpZ2VzdC11cmk9Im
ltYXAvZWx3b29kLmlubm9zb2Z0LmNvbSIscmVzcG9uc2U9ZDM4OGRhZDkw
ZDRiYmQ3NjBhMTUyMzIxZjIxNDNhZjcscW9wPWF1dGg=
S: + cnNwYXV0aD1lYTQwZjYwMzM1YzQyN2I1NTI3Yjg0ZGJhYmNkZmZmZA==
C:
S: a OK User logged in
---

The base64-decoded version of the SASL exchange is:

S: realm='elwood.innosoft.com',nonce='OA6MG9tEQGm2hh',qop='auth',
algorithm=md5-sess,charset=utf-8
C: charset=utf-8,username='chris',realm='elwood.innosoft.com',
nonce='OA6MG9tEQGm2hh',nc=00000001,cnonce='OA6MHXh6VqTrRk',
digest-uri='imap/elwood.innosoft.com',
response=d388dad90d4bbd760a152321f2143af7,qop=auth
S: rspauth=ea40f60335c427b5527b84dbabcdfffd

The password in this example was 'secret'.

This example shows the use of the Digest SASL mechanism with the
ACAP, using the same notational conventions and password as in the
previous example. Note that ACAP does not base64 encode and uses
fewer round trips that IMAP4.

S: * ACAP (IMPLEMENTATION 'Test ACAP server') (SASL 'CRAM-MD5'
'DIGEST-MD5' 'PLAIN')
C: a AUTHENTICATE 'DIGEST-MD5'
S: + {94}
S: realm='elwood.innosoft.com',nonce='OA9BSXrbuRhWay',qop='auth',
algorithm=md5-sess,charset=utf-8
C: {206}
C: charset=utf-8,username='chris',realm='elwood.innosoft.com',
nonce='OA9BSXrbuRhWay',nc=00000001,cnonce='OA9BSuZWMSpW8m',
digest-uri='acap/elwood.innosoft.com',
response=6084c6db3fede7352c551284490fd0fc,qop=auth
S: a OK (SASL {40}
S: rspauth=2f0b3d7c3c2e486600ef710726aa2eae) 'AUTHENTICATE
Completed'
---





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The server uses the values of all the directives, plus knowledge of
the users password (or the hash of the user's name, server's realm
and the user's password) to verify the computations above. If they
check, then the user has authenticated.

5 References

[Digest] Franks, J., et al., 'HTTP Authentication: Basic and Digest
Access Authentication', RFC 2617, June 1999.

[ISO-8859] ISO-8859. International Standard--Information Processing--
8-bit Single-Byte Coded Graphic Character Sets --
Part 1: Latin alphabet No. 1, ISO-8859-1:1987.
Part 2: Latin alphabet No. 2, ISO-8859-2, 1987.
Part 3: Latin alphabet No. 3, ISO-8859-3, 1988.
Part 4: Latin alphabet No. 4, ISO-8859-4, 1988.
Part 5: Latin/Cyrillic alphabet, ISO-8859-5, 1988.
Part 6: Latin/Arabic alphabet, ISO-8859-6, 1987.
Part 7: Latin/Greek alphabet, ISO-8859-7, 1987.
Part 8: Latin/Hebrew alphabet, ISO-8859-8, 1988.
Part 9: Latin alphabet No. 5, ISO-8859-9, 1990.

[RFC 822] Crocker, D., 'Standard for The Format of ARPA Internet
Text Messages,' STD 11, RFC 822, August 1982.

[RFC 1321] Rivest, R., 'The MD5 Message-Digest Algorithm', RFC 1321,
April 1992.

[RFC 2047] Moore, K., 'MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions)
Part Three: Message Header Extensions for Non-ASCII Text',
RFC 2047, November 1996.

[RFC 2052] Gulbrandsen, A. and P. Vixie, 'A DNS RR for specifying the
location of services (DNS SRV)', RFC 2052, October 1996.

[RFC 2060] Crispin, M., 'Internet Message Access Protocol - Version
4rev1', RFC 2060, December 1996.

[RFC 2104] Krawczyk, H., Bellare, M. and R. Canetti, 'HMAC: Keyed-
Hashing for Message Authentication', RFC 2104, February
1997.

[RFC 2195] Klensin, J., Catoe, R. and P. Krumviede, 'IMAP/POP
AUTHorize Extension for Simple Challenge/Response', RFC
2195, September 1997.






Leach & Newman Standards Track [Page 20]

RFC 2831 Digest SASL Mechanism May 2000


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

[RFC 2222] Myers, J., 'Simple Authentication and Security Layer
(SASL)', RFC 2222, October 1997.

[USASCII] US-ASCII. Coded Character Set - 7-Bit American Standard
Code for Information Interchange. Standard ANSI X3.4-1986,
ANSI, 1986.

6 Authors' Addresses

Paul Leach
Microsoft
1 Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052

EMail: paulle@microsoft.com


Chris Newman
Innosoft International, Inc.
1050 Lakes Drive
West Covina, CA 91790 USA

EMail: chris.newman@innosoft.com

7 ABNF

What follows is the definition of the notation as is used in the
HTTP/1.1 specification (RFC 2616) and the HTTP authentication
specification (RFC 2617); it is reproduced here for ease of
reference. Since it is intended that a single Digest implementation
can support both HTTP and SASL-based protocols, the same notation is
used in both to facilitate comparison and prevention of unwanted
differences. Since it is cut-and-paste from the HTTP specifications,
not all productions may be used in this specification. It is also not
quite legal ABNF; again, the errors were copied from the HTTP
specifications.

7.1 Augmented BNF

All of the mechanisms specified in this document are described in
both prose and an augmented Backus-Naur Form (BNF) similar to that
used by RFC 822 [RFC 822]. Implementers will need to be familiar with
the notation in order to understand this specification.





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The augmented BNF includes the following constructs:

name = definition
The name of a rule is simply the name itself (without any
enclosing '<' and '>') and is separated from its definition by the
equal '=' character. White space is only significant in that
indentation of continuation lines is used to indicate a rule
definition that spans more than one line. Certain basic rules are
in uppercase, such as SP, LWS, HT, CRLF, DIGIT, ALPHA, etc. Angle
brackets are used within definitions whenever their presence will
facilitate discerning the use of rule names.

'literal'
Quotation marks surround literal text. Unless stated otherwise,
the text is case-insensitive.

rule1 | rule2
Elements separated by a bar ('|') are alternatives, e.g., 'yes |
no' will accept yes or no.

(rule1 rule2)
Elements enclosed in parentheses are treated as a single element.
Thus, '(elem (foo | bar) elem)' allows the token sequences
'elem foo elem' and 'elem bar elem'.

*rule
The character '*' preceding an element indicates repetition. The
full form is '*element' indicating at least and at most
occurrences of element. Default values are 0 and infinity so
that '*(element)' allows any number, including zero; '1*element'
requires at least one; and '1*2element' allows one or two.

[rule]
Square brackets enclose optional elements; '[foo bar]' is
equivalent to '*1(foo bar)'.

N rule
Specific repetition: '(element)' is equivalent to
'*(element)'; that is, exactly occurrences of (element).
Thus 2DIGIT is a 2-digit number, and 3ALPHA is a string of three
alphabetic characters.

#rule
A construct '#' is defined, similar to '*', for defining lists of
elements. The full form is '#element' indicating at least
and at most elements, each separated by one or more commas
(',') and OPTIONAL linear white space (LWS). This makes the usual
form of lists very easy; a rule such as



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( *LWS element *( *LWS ',' *LWS element ))
can be shown as
1#element
Wherever this construct is used, null elements are allowed, but do
not contribute to the count of elements present. That is,
'(element), , (element) ' is permitted, but counts as only two
elements. Therefore, where at least one element is required, at
least one non-null element MUST be present. Default values are 0
and infinity so that '#element' allows any number, including zero;
'1#element' requires at least one; and '1#2element' allows one or
two.

; comment
A semi-colon, set off some distance to the right of rule text,
starts a comment that continues to the end of line. This is a
simple way of including useful notes in parallel with the
specifications.

implied *LWS
The grammar described by this specification is word-based. Except
where noted otherwise, linear white space (LWS) can be included
between any two adjacent words (token or quoted-string), and
between adjacent words and separators, without changing the
interpretation of a field. At least one delimiter (LWS and/or
separators) MUST exist between any two tokens (for the definition
of 'token' below), since they would otherwise be interpreted as a
single token.

7.2 Basic Rules

The following rules are used throughout this specification to
describe basic parsing constructs. The US-ASCII coded character set
is defined by ANSI X3.4-1986 [USASCII].

OCTET =
CHAR =
UPALPHA =
LOALPHA =
ALPHA = UPALPHA | LOALPHA
DIGIT =
CTL = (octets 0 - 31) and DEL (127)>
CR =
LF =
SP =
HT =
<'> =
CRLF = CR LF



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All linear white space, including folding, has the same semantics as
SP. A recipient MAY replace any linear white space with a single SP
before interpreting the field value or forwarding the message
downstream.

LWS = [CRLF] 1*( SP | HT )

The TEXT rule is only used for descriptive field contents and values
that are not intended to be interpreted by the message parser. Words
of *TEXT MAY contain characters from character sets other than
ISO-8859-1 [ISO 8859] only when encoded according to the rules of RFC
2047 [RFC 2047].

TEXT = but including LWS>

A CRLF is allowed in the definition of TEXT only as part of a header
field continuation. It is expected that the folding LWS will be
replaced with a single SP before interpretation of the TEXT value.

Hexadecimal numeric characters are used in several protocol elements.

HEX = 'A' | 'B' | 'C' | 'D' | 'E' | 'F'
| 'a' | 'b' | 'c' | 'd' | 'e' | 'f' | DIGIT

Many HTTP/1.1 header field values consist of words separated by LWS
or special characters. These special characters MUST be in a quoted
string to be used within a parameter value.

token = 1*
separators = '(' | ')' | '<' | '>' | '@'
| ',' | ';' | ':' | '' | <'>
| '/' | '[' | ']' | '?' | '='
| '{' | '}' | SP | HT

A string of text is parsed as a single word if it is quoted using
double-quote marks.

quoted-string = ( <'> qdstr-val <'> )
qdstr-val = *( qdtext | quoted-pair )
qdtext = >

Note that LWS is NOT implicit between the double-quote marks (<'>)
surrounding a qdstr-val and the qdstr-val; any LWS will be considered
part of the qdstr-val. This is also the case for quotation marks
surrounding any other construct.




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The backslash character ('') MAY be used as a single-character
quoting mechanism only within qdstr-val and comment constructs.

quoted-pair = '' CHAR

The value of this construct is CHAR. Note that an effect of this rule
is that backslash must be quoted.

8 Sample Code

The sample implementation in [Digest] also applies to DIGEST-MD5.

The following code implements the conversion from UTF-8 to 8859-1 if
necessary.

/* if the string is entirely in the 8859-1 subset of UTF-8, then
* translate to 8859-1 prior to MD5
*/
void MD5_UTF8_8859_1(MD5_CTX *ctx, const unsigned char *base,
int len)
{
const unsigned char *scan, *end;
unsigned char cbuf;

end = base + len;
for (scan = base; scan < end; ++scan) {
if (*scan > 0xC3) break; /* abort if outside 8859-1 */
if (*scan >= 0xC0 && *scan <= 0xC3) {
if (++scan == end || *scan < 0x80 || *scan > 0xBF)
break;
}
}
/* if we found a character outside 8859-1, don't alter string
*/
if (scan < end) {
MD5Update(ctx, base, len);
return;
}

/* convert to 8859-1 prior to applying hash
*/
do {
for (scan = base; scan < end && *scan < 0xC0; ++scan)
;
if (scan != base) MD5Update(ctx, base, scan - base);
if (scan + 1 >= end) break;
cbuf = ((scan[0] & 0x3) << 6) | (scan[1] & 0x3f);
MD5Update(ctx, &cbuf, 1);



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base = scan + 2;
} while (base < end);
}
















































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9 Full Copyright Statement

Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2000). All Rights Reserved.

This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it
or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any
kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
included on all such copies and derivative works. However, this
document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of
developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for
copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be
followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than
English.

The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.

This document and the information contained herein is provided on an
'AS IS' basis and THE INTERNET SOCIETY AND THE INTERNET ENGINEERING
TASK FORCE DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING
BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY WARRANTY THAT THE USE OF THE INFORMATION
HEREIN WILL NOT INFRINGE ANY RIGHTS OR ANY IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF
MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

Acknowledgement

Funding for the RFC Editor function is currently provided by the
Internet Society.



















Leach & Newman Standards Track [Page 27]




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