Skip to main content

A Model for Reputation Interchange

The information below is for an old version of the document.
Document Type
This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 7070.
Authors Dr. Nathaniel S. Borenstein , Murray Kucherawy
Last updated 2011-12-16 (Latest revision 2011-11-29)
Replaces draft-kucherawy-reputation-model
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Additional resources Mailing list discussion
Stream WG state WG Document
Document shepherd (None)
IESG IESG state AD is watching
Consensus boilerplate Unknown
Telechat date (None)
Responsible AD Pete Resnick
Send notices to,
Network Working Group                                      N. Borenstein
Internet-Draft                                                  Mimecast
Intended status: Informational                              M. Kucherawy
Expires: June 1, 2012                                          Cloudmark
                                                       November 29, 2011

                   A Model for Reputation Interchange


   This document describes the general model underlying a set of
   proposals for the exchange of reputation information on the Internet,
   and provides a roadmap to the four additional documents that
   collectively define a reputation interchange protocol.  It is
   intended roughly to follow the recommendations of RFC4101 for
   describing a protocol model.

Status of this Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.  The list of current Internet-
   Drafts is at

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on June 1, 2012.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2011 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   ( in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of

Borenstein & Kucherawy    Expires June 1, 2012                  [Page 1]
Internet-Draft               Reputation Base               November 2011

   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
   2.  Document Series . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
   3.  Terminology and Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
     3.1.  Keywords  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
     3.2.  Vocabulary  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
   4.  Information Represented in the Protocol . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
   5.  Information Flow in the Protocol  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
   6.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
   7.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
     7.1.  Biased Reputation Agents  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
     7.2.  Malformed Messages  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
   8.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
   Appendix A.  Public Discussion  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

Borenstein & Kucherawy    Expires June 1, 2012                  [Page 2]
Internet-Draft               Reputation Base               November 2011

1.  Introduction

   Traditionally, most Internet protocols have taken place between
   unauthenticated entities.  For example, when an email message is
   submitted via [SMTP], the server typically trusts the self-
   identification of the sender, and the sender trusts that the [DNS]
   has led it to the right server.  Both kinds of trust are easily
   betrayed, leading to spam, phishing, and a host of other ills.

   In recent years, stronger identity mechanisms have begun to see wider
   deployment.  For example, the [DKIM] protocol permits a much higher
   level of trust in the identity of the sending domain of an email
   message.  While this is a major step forward, by itself it does
   little to solve the problem of bad actors on the Internet.  Even if
   you can be sure a message comes from a domain called
   "," you don't really know whether or not that
   domain is trustworthy.  As a practical matter, the bad actors seem to
   have adopted DKIM even more rapidly than the good ones, in the hope
   that some receiving domains will naively confuse a confirmation of
   identity with trustworthiness.

   The next step, which could usefully be undertaken only in the
   presence of such stronger identity mechanisms, is to establish a
   mechanism by which mutually trusted parties can exchange information
   about other parties.  Such information is known as reputation

   While the need for reputation information has been most clear in the
   email world, where abuses are commonplace, it is easy to think of
   additional uses for such information.  It could also be useful in
   rating the security of web sites, the quality of service of an
   Internet Service Provider (ISP) or Application Service Provider
   (ASP), the customer satisfaction levels at e-commerce sites, and even
   things unrelated to Internet protocols, such as rating plumbers,
   hotels, or books.  Just as human beings traditionally rely on the
   recommendations of trusted parties in the physical world, so too they
   can be expected to make use of such reputation information in a
   variety of applications on the Internet.

   Accordingly, this protocol is designed to facilitate a wide range of
   reputation applications.  However, not all such reputations will need
   to convey the same information.  An overall reckoning of goodness
   versus badness can be defined generically, but specific applications
   are likely to want to describe reputations for multiple attributes;
   an e-commerce site might be rated on price, speed of delivery,
   customer service, etc., and might receive very different ratings on
   each.  Therefore, this protocol defines a generic mechanism and basic
   format for reputation information, while allowing extensions for each

Borenstein & Kucherawy    Expires June 1, 2012                  [Page 3]
Internet-Draft               Reputation Base               November 2011


   Omitted from this specification is the way by which an agent that
   wishes to report reputation information regarding something goes
   about collecting such data.  The protcol defined in this document and
   its companion documents is merely about asking a question and getting
   an answer; the remainder of the overall service provided by such an
   agent is specific to the implementation of that service and is out of
   scope here.

2.  Document Series

   This memo represents the base specification, introducing a series of
   others that define the overall service and introduce the initial
   exemplary applications.  The series is as follows:

   1.  RFCxxxx: A Model for Reputation Interchange (this memo)

   2.  RFCxxxx+1: Using the DNS for Reputation Interchange

   3.  RFCxxxx+2: Using UDP for Reputation Interchange

   4.  RFCxxxx+3: Using the DNS for Reputation Interchange

   5.  RFCxxxx+4: Using HTTP/XML for Reputation Interchange

   6.  RFCxxxx+5: A Reputation Vocabulary for Email Identity Reputation

   7.  RFCxxxx+6: A Reputation Vocabulary for Email Property Reputation

3.  Terminology and Definitions

   This section defines terms used in the rest of the document.

3.1.  Keywords

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in [KEYWORDS].

3.2.  Vocabulary

   A "vocabulary" comprises those data that are returned in response to
   a reputation query about a particular entity.  The vocabulary is
   specific to an application; the data returned in the evaluation of
   email senders would be different than the reputation data returned

Borenstein & Kucherawy    Expires June 1, 2012                  [Page 4]
Internet-Draft               Reputation Base               November 2011

   about a movie or a baseball player.

   Vocabularies have symbolic names, and these have to be registered
   with IANA to prevent name collisions.  The IANA registries are
   created in a separate memo.

4.  Information Represented in the Protocol

   The basic information to be represented in the protocol is fairly
   simple, and MUST include:

   o  the identity of the entity providing the reputation information;

   o  the level of confidence in that identity being genuine;

   o  the identity of the entity being rated;

   o  the overall rating score for that entity; and

   o  the number of data points underlying that score.

   Beyond this, arbitrary amounts of additional information might be
   represented for specific applications of the protocol.  Such
   information is called the "vocabulary" for that application.  The
   general protocol defines a syntax for representing such vocabularies,
   but each application will define its own vocabulary.  Thus, the basic
   information MUST also include:

   o  the name of the application for which the reputation data is being

   For example, a subsequent document will define the reputation
   vocabulary for the application "email-sending-domain" which will be
   used to combat spam and other abuses of email.  Additional documents
   define a [MIME] type for reputation data, and protocols for
   exchanging such data.

5.  Information Flow in the Protocol

   The basic reputation data represented in the new [MIME] media type
   can be transported in any number of ways, like any MIME object.
   However, it is anticipated that the typical use of the protocol will
   be a simple request/response.  One entity will ask a second entity
   for reputation data about a third entity, and the second entity will
   respond with that data.

Borenstein & Kucherawy    Expires June 1, 2012                  [Page 5]
Internet-Draft               Reputation Base               November 2011

   It is anticipated that a few applications, at least including the
   email-sending-domain application, will need a small, lightweight
   protocol for such queries and responses, while other applications
   will need to be able to retrieve larger and more complex responses.
   For this reason, two subsequent documents define two such protocols,
   one based on DNS queries and a terse representation, and one based on
   [HTTP] queries with an XML representation.

6.  IANA Considerations

   This memo presents no actions for IANA, though later memos in this
   series are likely to do so.

7.  Security Considerations

   This memo introduces an overall protocol model, but no implementation
   details.  As such, the security considerations presented here are
   very high-level.  The detailed analyses of the various specific
   components of the protocol can be found in the subsequent documents
   enumerated in Section 2.

7.1.  Biased Reputation Agents

   As with [VBR], an agent seeking to make use of a reputation reporting
   service is placing some trust that the service presents an unbiased
   "opinion" of the object about which reputation is being returned.
   The result of trusting the data is, presumably, to guide action taken
   by the reputation client.  It follows, then, that bias in the
   reputation service can adversely affect the client.  Clients,
   therefore, should be aware of this possibility and the impact it
   might have.  For example, a biased system returning reputation
   information about a DNS domain found in email messages could result
   in the admission of spam, phishing or malware through a mail gateway.

   Clients might also seek to interact only with reputation services
   that offer some level of transparency into the computation of the
   results they return.  How this might be evaluated, however, is not
   specified here.

   Similarly, a client placing trust in the results returned by such a
   service might suffer if the service itself is compromised, returning
   biased results under the control of an attacker without the knowledge
   of the agency providing reputation service.  This might result from
   an attack on the data being returned at the source, or from a man-in-
   the-middle attack.  Protocols, therefore, should be designed so as to
   be as resilient against such attacks as possible.

Borenstein & Kucherawy    Expires June 1, 2012                  [Page 6]
Internet-Draft               Reputation Base               November 2011

7.2.  Malformed Messages

   Both clients and servers of reputation systems need to be resistant
   to attacks that involve malformed messages, deliberate or otherwise.
   Failure to do so creates an opportunity for a denial-of-service.

8.  Informative References

   [DKIM]     Allman, E., Callas, J., Delany, M., Libbey, M., Fenton,
              J., and M. Thomas, "DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)
              Signatures", RFC 4871, May 2007.

   [DNS]      Mockapetris, P., "Domain names - implementation and
              specification", STD 13, RFC 1035, November 1987.

   [HTTP]     Fielding, R., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Frystyk, H.,
              Masinter, L., Leach, P., and T. Berners-Lee, "Hypertext
              Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1", RFC 2616, June 1999.

              Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [MIME]     Freed, N. and N. Borenstein, "Multipurpose Internet Mail
              Extensions (MIME) Part One: Format of Internet Message
              Bodies", RFC 2045, November 1996.

   [SMTP]     Klensin, J., "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol", RFC 5321,
              October 2008.

   [VBR]      Hoffman, P., Levine, J., and A. Hathcock, "Vouch By
              Reference", RFC 5518, April 2009.

Appendix A.  Public Discussion

   Public discussion of this suite of memos takes place on the mailing list.  See

Borenstein & Kucherawy    Expires June 1, 2012                  [Page 7]
Internet-Draft               Reputation Base               November 2011

Authors' Addresses

   Nathaniel Borenstein
   203 Crescent St., Suite 303
   Waltham, MA  02453

   Phone: +1 781 996 5340

   Murray S. Kucherawy
   128 King St., 2nd Floor
   San Francisco, CA  94107

   Phone: +1 415 946 3800

Borenstein & Kucherawy    Expires June 1, 2012                  [Page 8]