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Messaging Layer Security

The information below is for an older proposed charter
Document Proposed charter Messaging Layer Security WG (mls) Snapshot
Title Messaging Layer Security
Last updated 2018-05-14
State External Review (Message to Community, Selected by Secretariat) Rechartering
WG State Proposed
IESG Responsible AD Paul Wouters
Charter edit AD Benjamin Kaduk
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Several Internet applications have a need for group key establishment
and message protection protocols with the following properties:

o Message Confidentiality - Messages can only be read
  by members of the group
o Message Integrity and Authentication - Each message
  has been sent by an authenticated sender, and has
  not been tampered with
o Membership Authentication - Each participant can verify
  the set of members in the group
o Asynchronicity - Keys can be established without any
  two participants being online at the same time
o Forward secrecy - Full compromise of a node at a point
  in time does not reveal past messages sent within the group
o Post-compromise security - Full compromise of a node at a
  point in time does not reveal future messages sent within the group
o Scalability - Resource requirements have good scaling in the
  size of the group (preferably sub-linear)

Several widely-deployed applications have developed their own
protocols to meet these needs. While these protocols are similar,
no two are close enough to interoperate. As a result, each application
vendor has had to maintain their own protocol stack and independently
build trust in the quality of the protocol. The primary goal of this
working group is to develop a standard messaging security protocol
so that applications can share code, and so that there can be shared
validation of the protocol (as there has been with TLS 1.3). 

It is not a goal of this group to enable interoperability/federation
between messaging applications beyond the key establishment,
authentication, and confidentiality services.  Full interoperability
would require alignment at many different layers beyond security,
e.g., standard message transport and application semantics.  The
focus of this work is to develop a messaging security layer that
different applications can adapt to their own needs.

While authentication is a key goal of this working group, it is not
the objective of this working group to develop new authentication
technologies.  Rather, the security protocol developed by this
group will provide a way to leverage existing authentication
technologies to associate identities with keys used in the protocol,
just as TLS does with X.509.

In developing this protocol, we will draw on lessons learned from
several prior message-oriented security protocols, in addition to
the proprietary messaging security protocols deployed within
existing applications:

o S/MIME -
o OpenPGP -
o Off the Record -
o Signal -

The intent of this working group is to follow the pattern of
TLS 1.3, with specification, implementation, and verification
proceeding in parallel.  By the time we arrive at RFC, we
hope to have several interoperable implementations as well
as a thorough security analysis.

The specifications developed by this working group will be
based on pre-standardization implementation and deployment
experience, generalizing the design described in:

o draft-omara-mls-architecture
o draft-barnes-mls-protocol

Note that consensus is required both for changes to the current
protocol mechanisms and retention of current mechanisms. In
particular, because something is in the initial document set does
not imply that there is consensus around the feature or around
how it is specified.