Archive for the 'Cryptography' Category

March 23, 2018
JWT BCP draft adding Nested JWT guidance

OAuth logoThe JSON Web Token (JWT) Best Current Practices (BCP) specification has been updated to add guidance on how to explicitly type Nested JWTs. Thanks to Brian Campbell for suggesting the addition.

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

March 20, 2018
W3C Web Authentication (WebAuthn) specification has achieved Candidate Recommendation (CR) status

W3C logoThe W3C Web Authentication (WebAuthn) specification is now a W3C Candidate Recommendation (CR). See the specification at https://www.w3.org/TR/2018/CR-webauthn-20180320/ and my blog post announcing this result for the WebAuthn working group at https://www.w3.org/blog/webauthn/2018/03/20/candidate-recommendation/.

This milestone represents a huge step towards enabling logins to occur using privacy-preserving public/private key pairs securely held by authenticators, rather than passwords. Its contents have been informed by what we learned during several rounds of interop testing by multiple browser and authenticator vendors. The Web Authentication spec has also progressed in parallel with and been kept in sync with the FIDO2 Client To Authenticator Protocol (CTAP) specification, so that they work well together.

March 6, 2018
W3C Web Authentication (WebAuthn) specification almost a Candidate Recommendation (CR)

W3C logoThe eighth working draft of the W3C Web Authentication (WebAuthn) specification has been published. The WebAuthn working group plans to submit this draft for approval by the W3C Director (Tim Berners-Lee) to become a W3C Candidate Recommendation (CR), after a few days’ review by the working group.

This milestone represents a huge step towards enabling logins to occur using public/private key pairs securely held by authenticators, rather than passwords. Its contents have been informed by what we learned during several rounds of interop testing by multiple browser and authenticator vendors. The Web Authentication spec has also progressed in parallel with and been kept in sync with the FIDO 2 Client To Authenticator Protocol (CTAP) specification, so that they work well together.

March 3, 2018
Proof-of-Possession Key Semantics for CBOR Web Tokens (CWTs) spec with a few improvements

IETF logoA few local improvements have been made to the Proof-of-Possession Key Semantics for CBOR Web Tokens (CWTs) specification. Changes were:

  • Changed “typically” to “often” when describing ways of performing proof of possession.
  • Changed b64 to hex encoding in an example.
  • Changed to using the RFC 8174 boilerplate instead of the RFC 2119 boilerplate.

Thanks to Samuel Erdtman for sharing the editing.

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

December 5, 2017
Seventh working draft of W3C Web Authentication (WebAuthn) specification

W3C logoThe W3C Web Authentication working group has published the seventh working draft of the W3C Web Authentication (WebAuthn) specification. See the release page for a description of the changes since WD-06. The working group plans for the next version published to be a W3C Candidate Recommendation (CR). No breaking changes are expected between WD-07 and CR.

October 30, 2017
Proof-of-Possession Key Semantics for CBOR Web Tokens (CWTs) spec using CBOR diagnostic notation

IETF logoDraft -01 of the Proof-of-Possession Key Semantics for CBOR Web Tokens (CWTs) specification updates the examples to use CBOR diagnostic notation, thanks to Ludwig Seitz. A table summarizing the “cnf” names, keys, and value types was added, thanks to Samuel Erdtman. Finally, some of Jim Schaad’s feedback on -00 was addressed (with more to be addressed by the opening of IETF 100 in Singapore).

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

October 26, 2017
OAuth and OpenID Connect Token Binding specs updated

OAuth logoThe OAuth 2.0 Token Binding specification has been updated to enable Token Binding of JWT Authorization Grants and JWT Client Authentication. The discussion of phasing in Token Binding was improved and generalized. See the Document History section for other improvements applied.

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

An update to the closely-related OpenID Connect Token Bound Authentication 1.0 specification was also simultaneously published. Its discussion of phasing in Token Binding was correspondingly updated.

The OpenID Connect Token Binding specification is available in HTML and text versions at:

Thanks to Brian Campbell for doing the bulk of the editing for both sets of revisions.

September 12, 2017
Initial Working Group Draft of Proof-of-Possession Key Semantics for CBOR Web Tokens (CWTs)

IETF logoThe initial working group draft of the Proof-of-Possession Key Semantics for CBOR Web Tokens (CWTs) specification has been posted. It contains the same normative content as draft-jones-ace-cwt-proof-of-possession-01. The abstract of the specification is:

This specification describes how to declare in a CBOR Web Token (CWT) that the presenter of the CWT possesses a particular proof-of-possession key. Being able to prove possession of a key is also sometimes described as the presenter being a holder-of-key. This specification provides equivalent functionality to “Proof-of-Possession Key Semantics for JSON Web Tokens (JWTs)” (RFC 7800), but using CBOR and CWTs rather than JSON and JWTs.

I look forward to working with my co-authors and the working group to hopefully complete this quickly!

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

September 11, 2017
“Using RSA Algorithms with CBOR Object Signing and Encryption (COSE) Messages” is now RFC 8230

IETF logoThe “Using RSA Algorithms with CBOR Object Signing and Encryption (COSE) Messages” specification is now RFC 8230 – an IETF standard. The abstract for the specification is:

The CBOR Object Signing and Encryption (COSE) specification defines cryptographic message encodings using Concise Binary Object Representation (CBOR). This specification defines algorithm encodings and representations enabling RSA algorithms to be used for COSE messages. Encodings are specified for the use of RSA Probabilistic Signature Scheme (RSASSA-PSS) signatures, RSA Encryption Scheme – Optimal Asymmetric Encryption Padding (RSAES-OAEP) encryption, and RSA keys.

Some of these values are already being used by the sixth working draft of the W3C Web Authentication specification. In addition, the WebAuthn specification defines algorithm values for RSASSA-PKCS1-v1_5 signatures, which are used by TPMs, among other applications. The RSASSA-PKCS1-v1_5 signature algorithm values should also be registered shortly.

Thanks to Kathleen Moriarty for her Area Director sponsorship of the specification!

August 11, 2017
Sixth working draft of W3C Web Authentication specification

W3C logoThe W3C Web Authentication working group has published the sixth working draft of the W3C Web Authentication specification. It now can request that the authenticator support user verification – meaning that it can be used as the sole or first authentication factor. It now also uses the standard CBOR COSE_Key key representation [RFC8152]. Like WD-05, implementation and interop testing for WD-06 is planned.

July 27, 2017
Initial working group draft of JSON Web Token Best Current Practices

OAuth logoI’m happy to announce that the OAuth working group adopted the JSON Web Token Best Current Practices (JWT BCP) draft that Yaron Sheffer, Dick Hardt, and I had worked on, following discussions at IETF 99 in Prague and on the working group mailing list.

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

July 4, 2017
JSON Web Token Best Current Practices draft describing Explicit Typing

OAuth logoThe JWT BCP draft has been updated to describe the use of explicit typing of JWTs as one of the ways to prevent confusion among different kinds of JWTs. This is accomplished by including an explicit type for the JWT in the “typ” header parameter. For instance, the Security Event Token (SET) specification now uses the “application/secevent+jwt” content type to explicitly type SETs.

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

June 30, 2017
Proof-of-Possession Key Semantics for CBOR Web Tokens (CWTs) spec addressing review comments

IETF logoThe Proof-of-Possession Key Semantics for CBOR Web Tokens (CWTs) specification has been updated to address comments received since its initial publication. Changes were:

  • Tracked CBOR Web Token (CWT) Claims Registry updates.
  • Addressed review comments by Michael Richardson and Jim Schaad.
  • Added co-authors Ludwig Seitz, Göran Selander, Erik Wahlström, Samuel Erdtman, and Hannes Tschofenig.

Thanks for the feedback received to date!

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

June 22, 2017
“Using RSA Algorithms with COSE Messages” specification approved for publication

IETF logoThe IESG approved the “Using RSA Algorithms with COSE Messages” specification for publication as an RFC today. A new version was published incorporating the IESG feedback. Thanks to Ben Campbell, Eric Rescorla, and Adam Roach for their review comments. No normative changes were made.

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

June 15, 2017
“Using RSA Algorithms with COSE Messages” specification addressing IETF last call feedback

IETF logoA new version of the “Using RSA Algorithms with COSE Messages” specification has been published that addresses the IETF last call feedback received. Additional security considerations were added and the IANA Considerations instructions were made more precise. Thanks to Roni Even and Steve Kent for their useful reviews!

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

June 4, 2017
Initial JSON Web Token Best Current Practices Draft

OAuth logoJSON Web Tokens (JWTs) and the JSON Object Signing and Encryption (JOSE) functions underlying them are now being widely used in diverse sets of applications. During IETF 98 in Chicago, we discussed reports of people implementing and using JOSE and JWTs insecurely, the causes of these problems, and ways to address them. Part of this discussion was an invited JOSE/JWT Security Update presentation that I gave to two working groups, which included links to problem reports and described mitigations. Citing the widespread use of JWTs in new IETF applications, Security Area Director Kathleen Moriarty suggested during these discussions that a Best Current Practices (BCP) document be written for JSON Web Tokens (JWTs).

I’m happy to report that Yaron Sheffer, Dick Hardt, and myself have produced an initial draft of a JWT BCP. Its abstract is:

JSON Web Tokens, also known as JWTs [RFC7519], are URL-safe JSON-based security tokens that contain a set of claims that can be signed and/or encrypted. JWTs are being widely used and deployed as a simple security token format in numerous protocols and applications, both in the area of digital identity, and in other application areas. The goal of this Best Current Practices document is to provide actionable guidance leading to secure implementation and deployment of JWTs.

In Section 2, we describe threats and vulnerabilities. In Section 3, we describe best practices addressing those threats and vulnerabilities. We believe that the best practices in Sections 3.1 through 3.8 are ready to apply today. Section 3.9 (Use Mutually Exclusive Validation Rules for Different Kinds of JWTs) describes several possible best practices on that topic to serve as a starting point for a discussion on which of them we want to recommend under what circumstances.

We invite input from the OAuth Working Group and other interested parties on what best practices for JSON Web Tokens and the JOSE functions underlying them should be. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and working on this specification together.

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

May 18, 2017
Clarified Security Considerations in Using RSA Algorithms with COSE Messages

IETF logoA slightly updated version of the “Using RSA Algorithms with COSE Messages” specification has been published in preparation for IETF last call. Changes were:

  • Clarified the Security Considerations in ways suggested by Kathleen Moriarty.
  • Acknowledged reviewers.

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

May 11, 2017
Strong Authentication and Token Binding Presentations at EIC 2017

EIC logoI gave two presentations at the 2017 European Identity and Cloud Conference (EIC) on progress we’re making in creating and deploying important new identity and security standards. The presentations were:

  • Strong Authentication using Asymmetric Keys on Devices Controlled by You: This presentation is about the new authentication experiences enabled by the W3C Web Authentication (WebAuthn) and FIDO 2.0 Client To Authenticator Protocol (CTAP) specifications. It describes the progress being made on the standards and shows some example user experiences logging in using authenticators. Check it out in PowerPoint or PDF.
  • Token Binding Standards and Applications: Securing what were previously bearer tokens: This presentation is about how data structures such as browser cookies, ID Tokens, and access tokens can be cryptographically bound to the TLS channels on which they are transported, making them no longer bearer tokens. It describes the state of the Token Binding standards (IETF, OAuth, and OpenID) and provides data on implementations and deployments to date. This presentation was a collaboration with Brian Campbell of Ping Identity. Check it out in PowerPoint or PDF.

Mike presenting at EIC 2017
(Photo from https://twitter.com/drummondreed/status/862314926433603584)

May 5, 2017
Fifth working draft of W3C Web Authentication Specification

W3C logoThe W3C Web Authentication working group has published the fifth working draft of the W3C Web Authentication specification. It has a new title that’s more reflective of what it enables: “Web Authentication: An API for accessing Public Key Credentials”. Among other changes, the draft is now aligned with the W3C Credential Management API. Numerous issues were resolved and many improvements in the process of creating this release.

While not a candidate recommendation, this version is informally intended by the working group to be an Implementer’s Draft, which will be used for experimenting with implementations of the API.

March 13, 2017
OAuth Token Binding spec adding numerous examples and authorization code token binding

OAuth logoDraft -02 of the OAuth Token Binding specification adds example protocol messages for every distinct flow and also adds token binding for authorization codes. A lot of this is informed by implementation work that Brian Campbell has been doing, who did most of the heavy lifting for this draft. Working group members are requested to give the new text a read before IETF 98 in Chicago and to have a look at the updated open issues list. The descriptions of some of the flows were also clarified, thanks to William Denniss.

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

Next »