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Using TLS in Applications

Document Charter Using TLS in Applications WG (uta)
Title Using TLS in Applications
Last updated 2021-03-10
State Approved
WG State Active
IESG Responsible AD Paul Wouters
Charter edit AD Francesca Palombini
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There is a renewed and urgent interest in the IETF to increase the security of transmissions over the Internet. Many application protocols have defined methods for using TLS to authenticate the server (and sometimes the client), and to encrypt the connection between the client and server. However, there is a diversity of definitions and requirements, and that diversity has caused confusion for application developers and also has led to lack of interoperability or lack of deployment. Implementers and deployers are faced with multiple security issues in real-world usage of TLS, which currently does not preclude insecure ciphers and modes of operation.

This WG has the following tasks:

  • Update the definitions for using TLS over a set of representative application protocols. This includes communication with proxies, between servers, and between peers, where appropriate, in addition to client/server communication.

  • Specify a set of best practices for TLS clients and servers, including but not limited to recommended versions of TLS, using forward secrecy, and one or more ciphersuites and extensions that are mandatory to implement.

  • Consider, and possibly define, a standard way for an application client and server to use unauthenticated encryption through TLS when server and/or client authentication cannot be achieved.

  • Create a document that helps application protocol developers use TLS in future application definitions.

The initial set of representative application protocols is SMTP, POP, IMAP, XMPP, and HTTP 1.1. It is expected that other protocols that use TLS might later be updated using the guidelines from this WG, and that those updates will happen through other WGs or through individual submissions.

The WG will make the fewest changes needed to achieve good interoperable security for the applications using TLS. No changes to TLS itself will be made in this WG, and the WG will ensure that changes to current versions of popular TLS libaries will not be required to conform to the WG's specifications.

This WG will collaborate with other IETF WGs, in particular with the TLS and DANE WGs.