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A Simple Mode of Facsimile Using Internet Mail

The information below is for an old version of the document that is already published as an RFC.
Document Type
This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 2305.
Authors Dan Wing , Hiroyuki Ohno , Dr. Jun Murai Ph.D. , Kiyoshi Toyoda
Last updated 2015-10-14 (Latest revision 1998-02-11)
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Intended RFC status Proposed Standard
Additional resources Mailing list discussion
Stream WG state (None)
Document shepherd (None)
IESG IESG state Became RFC 2305 (Proposed Standard)
Action Holders
Consensus boilerplate Unknown
Telechat date (None)
Responsible AD Ned Freed
Send notices to (None)
Applications Area                              Kiyoshi Toyoda
INTERNET-DRAFT                                  Hiroyuki Ohno
8 February 1998                                     Jun Murai
Expires July 1998                                WIDE Project
                                                     Dan Wing

       A Simple Mode of Facsimile Using Internet Mail


This document is an Internet-Draft. Internet-Drafts are
working documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force
(IETF), its areas, and its working groups.  Note that other
groups may also distribute working documents as Internet

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Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1997, 1998).  All Rights


This specification provides for "simple mode" carriage of
facsimile data over the Internet.  Extensions to this
document will follow.  The current specification employs
standard protocols and file formats such as TCP/IP, Internet
mail protocols [1, 2, 3], MIME [4, 16, 17], and TIFF for
Facsimile [5,6,19].  It can send images not only to other
Internet-aware facsimile devices but also to Internet-native
systems, such as PCs with common email readers which can
handle MIME mail and TIFF for Facsimile data.  The
specification facilitates communication among existing
facsimile devices, Internet mail agents, and the gateways
which connect them.

The key words "MUST", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", and "MAY" in
this document are to be interpreted as described in [7].


This specification defines a message-based facsimile
communication over the Internet.  It describes a minimum set
of capabilities, taking into account those of typical
facsimile devices and PCs that can generate facsimile data.

A G3Fax device has substantial restrictions due to
specifications in the standards, such as for timers. This
specification defines a profile for Internet mail, rather
than creating a distinct "facsimile over the Internet"
service.  The semantics resulting from the profile are
designed to be compatible with facsimile operation over the
general switched telephone network, so that gateways between
facsimile and Internet mail can operate with very high

The reason for developing this capability as an email profile
is to permit interworking amongst facsimile and email users.
For example it is intended that existing email users be able
to send normal messages to lists of users, including
facsimile-based recipients, and that other email recipients
shall be able to reply to the original and continue to
include facsimile recipients.  Similarly it is intended that
existing email software work without modification and not be
required to process new, or different data structures, beyond
what is normal for Internet mail users.  Existing email
service standards are used, rather than replicating
mechanisms which are more tailored to existing facsimile
standards, to ensure this compatibility with existing email

1.1 Services

A facsimile-capable device that uses T.4 [8] and the general
switched telephone network (GSTN) is called a "G3Fax device"
in this specification.  An "IFax device" is an Internet-
accessible device capable of sending, receiving or forwarding
Internet faxes.  A message can be sent to an IFax device
using  an Internet mail address. A message can be sent to a
G3Fax device  using an Internet mail address; the message MAY
be forwarded via an IFax offramp gateway.

1.2 Cases

This specification provides for communication between each of
the following combinations:
Internet mail             =>  Network printer
Internet mail             =>  Offramp gateway (forward to
Network scanner           =>  Network printer
Network scanner           =>  Offramp gateway (forward to
Network scanner           =>  Internet mail


The set of conventions necessary to achieve facsimile-
compatible service covers basic data transport, document data
formats, message (document) addressing, delivery
confirmation, and message security. In this section, the
first 4 are covered.  The remainder are covered in following
sections, along with additional details for addressing and

2.1 Transport

This section describes mechanisms involved in the transport
between IFAX devices.

2.1.1     Relay

Data transfer MAY be achieved using standard Internet mail
transfer mechanisms[1, 3].  The format of addresses MUST
conform to the RFC 821 <addr-spec> and RFC 822 <mailbox>
Internet mail standards [1, 2, 3].

2.1.2     Gateway

A gateway translates between dissimilar environments.  For
IFax, a gateway connects between Internet mail and the
T.4/GSTN facsimile.  Gateways can service multiple T.4/GSTN
facsimile users or can service only one.  In the former case,
they serve as a classic "mail transfer agent" and in the
latter as a classic "mail user agent".

An onramp is a gateway which connects from T.4/GSTN facsimile
to Internet mail.  An offramp is a gateway which connects
from Internet mail to T.4/GSTN facsimile. Behavior of onramps
is out of scope for this specification.

This specification describes the Internet mail service
portion of offramp addressing, confirmation and failure
notification.  Details are provided in later sections.

2.1.3     Mailbox protocols

Offramp gateways that serve multiple users SHOULD use SMTP;
gateways that only serve a single mail recipient MAY use a
mailbox access protocol such as POP or IMAP [9, 10].

2.2 Formats

2.2.1     Headers

IFax devices MUST be compliant with RFC 822 and RFC1123,
which define the format of mail headers.  The header of an
IFax message SHOULD include Message-ID and MUST include all
fields required by [2, 3], such as DATE and FROM.

2.2.2     MIME

IFax devices MUST be compliant with MIME [4], except as noted
in Appendix A.

2.2.3     Content

The data format of the facsimile image is based on the
minimum set of TIFF for Facsimile[6], also known as the S
profile.   Such facsimile data are included in a MIME object
by use of the image/TIFF sub-type [19].  Additional rules for
the use of TIFF for Facsimile, for the message-based Internet
facsimile application, are defined later.

2.2.4     Multipart

A single multi-page document SHOULD be sent as a single multi-
page TIFF file, even though recipients MUST process
multipart/mixed containing multiple TIFF files. If multipart
content is present and processing of any part fails, then
processing for the entire message is treated as failing, per
[Processing failure] below.

2.3 Error Handling

2.3.1     Delivery failure

This section describes existing requirements for Internet
mail, rather than indicating special requirements for IFax

In the event of relay failure, the sending relay MUST
generate a failure message, which SHOULD be in the format of
a DSN. [14,15]
     NOTE:  Internet mail transported via SMTP MUST contain a
     MAIL FROM address appropriate for delivery of return
     notices [Also see section 5.2.6]

2.3.2     Processing failure

IFax devices with limited capabilities might be unable to
process the content of a message.  If this occurs it is
important to ensure that the message is not lost without any
notice. Notice MAY be provided in any appropriate fashion,
and the exact handling is a local matter. (Also see Appendix
A, second bullet.)


3.1 Classic Email Destinations

Messages being sent to normal Internet mail recipients will
use standard Internet mail addresses, without additional

3.2 G3Fax Devices

G3Fax devices are accessed via an IFAX offramp gateway, which
performs any authorized telephone dial-up.

3.3 Address Formats Used by Offramps

When a G3Fax device is identified by a telephone number, the
entire address used for the G3fax device, including the
number and offramp host reference MUST be contained within
standard Internet mail transport fields, such as RCPT TO and
MAIL FROM [1, 3].  The address MAY be contained within
message content fields, such as <authentic> and <destination>
[2, 3], as appropriate.

As for all Internet mail addresses, the left-hand-side (local-
part) of an address is not to be interpreted except by the
MTA that is named on the right-hand-side (domain).

The telephone number format SHOULD conform to [11, 12].
Other formats MUST be syntactically distinct from [11, 12].


Sending IFax devices MUST be able to write minimum set TIFF
files, per the rules for creating minimum set TIFF files
defined in TIFF for Facsimile (the S profile) [6], which is
also compatible with the specification for the minimum subset
of TIFF-F in [5].  Receiving IFax devices MUST be able to
read minimum set TIFF files.

A sender SHOULD NOT use TIFF fields and values beyond the
minimum subset of TIFF for Facsimile unless the sender has
prior knowledge of other TIFF fields or values supported by
the recipient.  The mechanism for determining capabilities of
recipients is beyond the scope of this document.


5.1 General Directive

This specification is based on use of existing Internet mail.
To maintain interoperability with Internet mail, any security
to be provided should be part of the of the Internet security
infrastructure, rather than a new mechanism or some other
mechanism outside of the Internet infrastructure.

5.2 Threats and Problems

Both Internet mail and G3Fax standards and operational
services have their own set of threats and countermeasures.
This section attends only to the set of additional threats
which ensue from integrating the two services. This section
reviews relevant concerns about Internet mail for IFax
environments, as well as considering the potential problems
which can result of integrating the existing G3Fax service
with Internet mail.

5.2.1     Spoofed sender

The actual sender of the message might not be the same as
that specified in the Sender or From fields of the message
content headers or the MAIL FROM address from the SMTP

In a tightly constrained environment, sufficient physical and
software controls may be able to ensure prevention of this
problem. The usual solution is through encryption-based
authentication, either for the channel or associated with the
object, as discussed below.

It should be recognized that SMTP implementations do not
provide inherent authentication of the senders of messages,
nor are sites under obligation to provide such
authentication. End-to-end approaches such as S/MIME and
PGP/MIME are currently being developed within the IETF. These
technologies can provide such authentication.

5.2.2     Resources consumed by dialout

In addition to the resources normally consumed for email (CPU
cycles and disk), offramp facsimile causes an outdial which
often imposes significant resource consumption, such as
financial cost. Techniques for establishing authorization of
the sender are essential to those offramp facsimile services
that need to manage such consumption.

Due to the consumption of these resources by dialout,
unsolicited bulk email which causes an outdial is

Offramp gateways SHOULD provide the ability to authorize
senders in some manner to prevent unauthorized use of the
offramp. There are no standard techniques for authorization
using Internet protocols.

Typical solutions use simple authentication of the originator
to establish and verify their identity and then check the
identity against a private authorization table.

Originator authentication entails the use of weak or strong
mechanisms, such as cleartext keywords or encryption-based
data-signing, respectively, to determine and validate the
identify of the sender and assess permissions accordingly.

Other control mechanisms which are common include source
filtering and originator authentication.  Source filtering
entails offramp gateway verification of the host or network
originating the message and permitting or prohibiting
relaying accordingly.

5.2.3     GSTN authorization information

Confidential information about the sender necessary to dial a
G3Fax recipient, such as sender's calling card authorization
number, might be disclosed to the G3Fax recipient (on the
cover page), such as through parameters encoded in the G3Fax
recipients address in the To: or CC: fields.

Senders SHOULD be provided with a method of preventing such
disclosure.  As with mechanisms for handling unsolicited
faxes, there are not yet standard mechanisms for protecting
such information.  Out-of-band communication of authorization
information or use of encrypted data in special fields are
the available non-standard techniques.

Typically authorization needs to be associated to specific
senders and specific messages, in order to prevent a "replay"
attack which causes and earlier authorization to enable a
later dial-out by a different (and unauthorized) sender.  A
non-malicious example of such a replay would be to have an
email recipient reply to all original recipients -- including
an offramp IFax recipient -- and have the original sender's
authorization cause the reply to be sent.

5.2.4     Sender accountability

In many countries, there is a legal requirement that the
"sender" be disclosed on a facsimile message.  Email From
addresses are trivial to fake, so that using only the MAIL
FROM [1, 3]  or From [2, 3] header is not sufficient.

Offramps SHOULD ensure that the recipient is provided
contact information about the offramp, in the event of

The G3Fax recipient SHOULD be provided with sufficient
information which permits tracing the originator of the IFax
message.  Such information might include the contents of the
MAIL FROM, From, Sender and Reply-To headers, as well as
Message-Id and Received headers.

5.2.5     Message disclosure

Users of G3Fax devices have an expectation of a level of
message privacy which is higher than the level provided by
Internet mail without security enhancements.

This expectation of privacy by G3Fax users SHOULD be
preserved as much as possible.

Sufficient physical and software control may be acceptable in
constrained environments.  The usual mechanism for ensuring
data confidentially entail encryption, as discussed below.

5.2.6     Non private mailboxes

With email, bounces (delivery failures) are typically
returned to the sender and not to a publicly-accessible email
account or printer.  With facsimile, bounces do not typically
occur.  However, with IFax, a bounce could be sent elsewhere
(see section [Delivery Failure]), such as a local system
administrator's account, publicly-accessible account, or an
IFax printer (see also [Traffic Analysis]).

5.2.7     Traffic analysis

Eavesdropping of senders and recipients is easier on the
Internet than GSTN.  Note that message object encryption does
not prevent traffic analysis, but channel security can help
to frustrate attempts at traffic analysis.

5.3 Security Techniques

There are two, basic approaches to encryption-based security
which support authentication and privacy:

5.3.1     Channel security

As with all email, an IFax message can be viewed as it
traverses internal networks or the Internet itself.

Virtual Private Networks (VPN) which make use of encrypted
tunnels, such as via IPSec technology [18] or transport layer
security, can be used to prevent eavesdropping of a message
as it traverses such networks.   It also provides some
protection against traffic analysis, as described above.

5.3.2     Object security

As with all email, an IFax message can be viewed while it
resides on, or while it is relayed through, an intermediate
Mail Transfer Agent.

Message encryption, such as PGP-MIME [13] and S/MIME, can be
used to provide end-to-end encryption.


[1]  Postel, J., "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol", STD 10, RFC
     821, August 1982.

[2]  Crocker, D., "Standard for the Format of ARPA Internet
     Text Messages", STD 11, RFC 822, August l982.

[3]  Braden, R., 1123 "Requirements for Internet hosts -
     application and support", RFC 1123, October 1989.

[4]  Borenstein, N., and N. Freed, " Multipurpose Internet
     Mail Extensions (MIME) Part Five:  Conformance Criteria
     and Examples ", RFC 2049, November 1996.

[5]  Parsons, G., and J. Rafferty, "Tag Image File Format
     (TIFF) -- Application F", RFC XXXX, January 1998

[6]  McIntyre, L., Zilles, S., Buckley, R., Venable, D.,
     Parsons, G., and J. Rafferty, "File Format for Internet
     Fax", RFC XXXX, January 1998.

[7]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
     Requirement Levels", RFC 2119, March 1997.

[8]  ITU-T (CCITT), "Standardization of Group 3 facsimile
     apparatus for document transmission", ITU-T (CCITT),
     Recommendation T.4.

[9]  Myers, J., and M. Rose, "Post Office Protocol - Version
     3", STD 53, RFC 1939, May 1996.

[10] Crispin, M., "Internet Message Access Protocol - Version
     4Rev1", RFC 2060, December 1996.

[11] Allocchio, C., "Minimal GSTN address format for Internet
     mail", RFC XXXX, January 1998.

[12] Allocchio, C., "Minimal fax address format for Internet
     mail", RFC XXXX, January 1998.

[13] Elkins, M., "MIME Security with Pretty Good Privacy
     (PGP)", RFC 2015, October 1996.

[14] Moore, K., and G. Vaudreuil, "An Extensible Message
     Format for Delivery Status Notifications", RFC 1894,
     January 1996.

[15] Moore, K., "SMTP Service Extension for Delivery Status
     Notifications", RFC 1891, January 1996.

[16] Freed, N., and N. Borenstein, "Multipurpose Internet
     Mail Extensions (MIME) Part Two: Media Types", RFC 2046,
     November 1996.

[17] Moore, K., "Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME)
     Part Three: Representation of Non-ASCII Text in Internet
     Message Headers", RFC 2047, November 1996.

[18] Atkinson, R., "Security Architecture for the Internet
     Protocol", RFC 1825, Naval Research Laboratory, August

[19] Parsons, G. and Rafferty, J. "Tag Image File Format
     (TIFF) -- image/TIFF: MIME Sub-type Registration", RFC
     XXXX, January 1998


This specification was produced by the Internet Engineering
Task Force Fax Working Group, over the course of more than
one year's online and face-to-face discussions.  As with all
IETF efforts, many people contributed to the final product.

Active for this document were: Steve Huston, Jeffrey Perry,
Greg Vaudreuil, Richard Shockey, Charles Wu, Graham Klyne,
Robert A. Rosenberg, Larry Masinter, Dave Crocker, Herman
Silbiger, James Rafferty.


Kiyoshi Toyoda
Matsushita Graphic Communication Systems, Inc.
2-3-8 Shimomeguro, Meguro-ku
Tokyo 153 Japan
Fax: +81 3 5434 7166

Hiroyuki Ohno
Tokyo Institute of Technology
2-12-1 O-okayama, Meguro-ku
Tokyo 152 Japan
FAX: +81 3 5734 2754

Jun Murai
Keio University
5322 Endo, Fujisawa
Kanagawa 252 Japan
Fax: +81 466 49 1101

Dan Wing
Cisco Systems, Inc.
101 Cooper Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060 USA
Phone: +1 408 457 5200
Fax: +1 408 457 5208


Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1997, 1998).  All Rights

This document and translations of it may be copied and
furnished  to others, and derivative works that comment on or
otherwise  explain it or assist in its implementation may be
prepared, copied,  published and distributed, in whole or in
part, without  restriction of any kind, provided that the
above copyright notice  and this paragraph are included on
all such copies and derivative  works.  However, this
document itself may not be modified in any  way, such as by
removing the copyright notice or references to the  Internet
Society or other Internet organizations, except as needed for
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Standards  process must be followed, or as required to
translate it into languages other than English.

The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will
not be revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or

This document and the information contained herein is
provided on  an "AS IS" basis and THE INTERNET SOCIETY AND


10 APPENDIX A:  Exceptions to MIME

*    IFax senders are NOT REQUIRED to be able to send
     text/plain messages (RFC 2049 requirement 4), although IFax
     recipients are required to accept such messages, and to
     process them.

*    IFax recipients are NOT REQUIRED to offer to put results
     in  a file. (Also see 2.3.2.)

*    IFax recipients MAY directly print/fax  the received
     message rather  than "display" it, as indicated in RFC 2049.