Archive for the 'Cryptography' Category

May 22, 2018
Deprecating the Password: A Progress Report

EIC logoI gave the well-received presentation “Deprecating the Password: A Progress Report” at the May 2018 European Identity and Cloud Conference (EIC). The presentation is available as PowerPoint (large because of the embedded video) and PDF.

The presentation abstract is:

If you ask almost anyone you meet if they have too many passwords, if they have trouble remembering their passwords, or if they are reusing the same passwords in multiple places, you’re likely to get an ear-full. People intuitively know that there has to be something better than having to have a password for everything they do!

The good news is that passwords are being used for fewer and fewer identity interactions. They are being replaced by biometrics (sign into your phone, your PC, or your bank with your face or fingerprint), local PINs (prove it’s you to your device and it does the rest), and federation (sign in with Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc.). This presentation will examine the progress we’ve made, the standards and devices making it possible, and stimulate a discussion on what’s left to do to deprecate the password.

Key takeaways are:

    There are good alternatives to passwords in use today.
    Passwords are being used for fewer and fewer identity interactions.
    Devices are increasingly enabling authentication without passwords.
    New standards are enabling cross-platform password-less authentication.
    The days of having to use passwords for everything you do are numbered!

Thanks to Steve Hutchinson for this photo from the presentation and his vote of confidence.
Mike presenting at EIC 2018

Extra: See all the Microsoft presentations at EIC 2018, including videos of Joy Chik’s and Kim Cameron’s keynotes.

May 9, 2018
JWT BCP updates addressing WGLC feedback

OAuth logoThe JSON Web Token (JWT) Best Current Practices (BCP) specification has been updated to address the Working Group Last Call (WGLC) feedback received. Thanks to Neil Madden for his numerous comments and to Carsten Bormann and Brian Campbell for their reviews.

Assuming the chairs concur, the next step should be to request publication.

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

May 8, 2018
“CBOR Web Token (CWT)” is now RFC 8392

IETF logoThe “CBOR Web Token (CWT)” specification is now RFC 8392 – an IETF standard. The abstract for the specification is:

CBOR Web Token (CWT) is a compact means of representing claims to be transferred between two parties. The claims in a CWT are encoded in the Concise Binary Object Representation (CBOR) and CBOR Object Signing and Encryption (COSE) is used for added application-layer security protection. A claim is a piece of information asserted about a subject and is represented as a name/value pair consisting of a claim name and a claim value. CWT is derived from JSON Web Token (JWT) but uses CBOR rather than JSON.

Special thanks to Erik Wahlström for starting this work and to Samuel Erdtman for doing most of the heavy lifting involved in creating correct and useful CBOR and COSE examples.

Next up – finishing “Proof-of-Possession Key Semantics for CBOR Web Tokens (CWTs)”, which provides the CWT equivalent of “Proof-of-Possession Key Semantics for JSON Web Tokens (JWTs)” [RFC 7800].

May 7, 2018
On our journey to deprecate the password: Public Implementation Draft of FIDO2 Client to Authenticator Protocol (CTAP) specification

FIDO logoI’m pleased to report that a public Implementation Draft of the FIDO2 Client to Authenticator Protocol (CTAP) specification has been published. This specification enables FIDO2 clients, such as browsers implementing the W3C Web Authentication (WebAuthn) specification, to perform authentication using pairwise public/private key pairs securely held by authenticators speaking the CTAP protocol (rather than passwords). Use of three transports for communicating with authenticators is specified in the CTAP specification: USB Human Interface Device (USB HID), Near Field Communication (NFC), and Bluetooth Smart/Bluetooth Low Energy Technology (BLE).

This specification was developed in parallel with WebAuthn, including having a number of common authors. This CTAP version is aligned with the WebAuthn Candidate Recommendation (CR) version.

The CTAP Implementation Draft is available at:

Congratulations to the members of the FIDO2 working group for reaching this important milestone. This is a major step in our journey to deprecate the password!

May 2, 2018
Additional RSA Algorithms for COSE Messages Registered by W3C WebAuthn

W3C logoThe WebAuthn working group has published the “COSE Algorithms for Web Authentication (WebAuthn)” specification, which registers COSE algorithm identifiers for RSASSA-PKCS1-v1_5 signature algorithms with SHA-2 and SHA-1 hash algorithms. RSASSA-PKCS1-v1_5 with SHA-256 is used by several kinds of authenticators. RSASSA-PKCS1-v1_5 with SHA-1, while deprecated, is used by some Trusted Platform Modules (TPMs). See https://www.iana.org/assignments/cose/cose.xhtml#algorithms for the actual IANA registrations.

Thanks to John Fontana, Jeff Hodges, Tony Nadalin, Jim Schaad, Göran Selander, Wendy Seltzer, Sean Turner, and Samuel Weiler for their roles in registering these algorithm identifiers.

The specification is available at:

An HTML-formatted version is also available at:

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:

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