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Common Authentication Technology

Document Charter Common Authentication Technology WG (cat)
Title Common Authentication Technology
Last updated 2002-07-25
State Approved
WG State Concluded
IESG Responsible AD (None)
Charter edit AD (None)
Send notices to (None)


The goal of the Common Authentication Technology (CAT) Working Group is
to provide distributed security services (which have included
authentication, integrity, and confidentiality, and may broaden to
include authorization) to a variety of protocol callers in a manner
which insulates those callers from the specifics of underlying security

By separating security implementation tasks from the tasks of
integrating security data elements into caller protocols, those tasks
can be partitioned and performed separately by implementors with
different areas of xpertise. This provides leverage for the IETF
community's security-oriented resources, and allows protocol
implementors to focus on the functions their protocols are designed to
provide rather than on characteristics of security mechanisms. CAT seeks
to encourage uniformity and modularity in security approaches,
supporting the use of common techniques and accommodating evolution of
underlying technologies.

In support of these goals, the working group pursues several
interrelated tasks. We have defined a common service interface (GSS-API)
allowing callers to invoke security services in association-oriented
environments, with an associated token format identifying the security
mechanism being employed. Existing documents provide C language bindings
for GSS-API; currently ongoing work is defining bindings for Java.
Authorization interfaces are currently being evaluated as a related area
for follow-on work, with the level of achievable portability an
important consideration. The CAT Working Group also defines supporting
mechanisms to provide security services; current activity includes
specification of "low-infrastructure" mechanisms to support ease of
deployment and use.