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Versions: 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08                                    
Internet-Draft                            Tom Arnold (CyberSource)
Category: Security                       Jason Eaton (CyberSource)
February 5, 1999                     Michael Jimenez (CyberSource)
Expires in six months                    Hubert Chen (CyberSource)

                Simple Commerce Messaging Protocol (SCMP)
                               Version 01

Status of this Memo

This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance
with all provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026.

This document is an Internet-Draft. Internet-Drafts are working
documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), its areas,
and working groups.

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-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."

The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at

1. Introduction

The Simple Commerce Messaging Protocol (SCMP) is a general-purpose
commerce transport protocol for securely communicating a set of data
from a sending agent's application to a receiving agent's server. And,
where the response by the receiving agent's sever to the sending agent
is, in fact, the reply from the request represented by the set of
data in the message's payload. The intent of this protocol is to
define a method where trading partners can perform on-line business
requests in an environment where the sending partner is fully
authenticated, and the message cannot be repudiated.

The SCMP message content, hereinafter referred to as message payload,
is not intended to be defined or specified. SCMP does not specify
payload contents or how trading partners are expected to process
the payload, beyond basic server-level functions related to processing
SCMP-headers. This intent is to permit trading partners the flexibility
to implement either a standard commerce message format as in ANSI-X12
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) or some other proprietary
request format.

The only requirement on the message payload is that it be identified to
the receiver utilizing MIME naming and formatting [MIME] and used to
identify the type of payload contained in the SCMP data area.

In this manner, SCMP fundamentally differs from many emerging
commerce message protocols. Beyond specifying the method for transport,
encryption, authentication and handling, these other protocols
specify the contents of the message and details how a server is to
process and respond to the message payload.

SCMP is intended as both an on-line and batch protocol.  The exact
content type of the message and the processing constraints are specified in

1.1. Document Overview

This document describes SCMP from the standpoint of how trading partners
would implement a client/server request processing system where a
sending agent requests services via an untrusted network connection from
a server-based receiving agent.

In this environment, the typical requirements for authentication, non-
repudiation, message integrity, and privacy as discussed in [SMIME] and
assured by the proper use of the Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail
Extensions [SMIME]. Beyond this, the trading partners require service-
based extensions to standard MIME and SMIME security services. These
service-based extensions are described within this document, while it is
assumed the trading partner will implement MIME and SMIME services as
described in [MIME] and [SMIME] respectively.

1.2. Terminology

Throughout this draft, the terms MUST, MUST NOT, SHOULD, and SHOULD NOT
are used in conformances to the definitions in [MUSTSHOULD].

1.3. Definitions

Several terms will be used when specifying SCMP.

Trading Partners     Two entities wishing to perform some on-line
                     request processing where authentication,
                     privacy, integrity and non-repudiation of the
                     requests are important. Tranding partners have
                     established a trusted relationship between each other.

Client               An application program that executes on a remote
                     system, used by a trading partner to request
                     services from a server via an un-trusted or
                     publicly switched packet network, like the

Server               An application program used to process SCMP
                     messages received from a client, and generate
                     appropriate replies which are sent back to the

Request              A discrete unit of service embodied in a single
                     SCMP message/reply pair.

Payload              The meaningful content provided by a client to a
                     server, encapsulated in an SCMP message. Similarly
                     the meaningful content provided by a server to a
                     client, encapsulated in an SCMP message.

Request              An SCMP message sent from a client to a server.

Reply                An SCMP message sent from a server to a client.

Services             Algorithms implemented by the server application
                     which are executed as designated by the payload.
                     Each available algorithm is a service.

2. Payload Encapsulation

The payload of an SCMP message MUST be prepared as a standard MIME
entity as defined in the [MIME] specification. The [SMIME] document
describes how the resulting MIME entity SHOULD be cryptographically
enhanced according to [CMS], which is derived from PKCS #7, [PKCS-7].

An SCMP compliant server SHOULD implement the three message types as described
in [SMIME], signed, enveloped, and signed/enveloped. A SCMP compliant server
MUST impliment signed/envelope message type as described in [SMIME].

It is recommended, for non-repudiation concerns that the trading partners
SHOULD exchange signed or signed/enveloped SCMP message types.

It is also recommended that strong enough cryptographic methods
be used to insure authenticity, integrity, non-repudiation, and privacy
of the payload. But, if the trading partners form a private agreement,
clear data or signed-only data MAY be exchanged. However, an SCMP
compliant server MUST support encryption even if encryption is not being

In addition to the standard MIME headers, a compliant implimentation MUST
define "SCMP-protocol-version" and "SCMP-protocol-sender-name". These headers
added to the outer MIME entity, as described in [SMIME].

2.1 SCMP Protocol Version:

The SCMP-protocol-version header is used to designate the SCMP protocol version.
Therby the protocol version can be accessed before any decryption of the
request is performed.

An example SCMP-protocol-version header will be in this format:

  SCMP-protocol-version: v2.0

The possible protocol versions MUST be agreed upon by the trading partners.

2.2 SCMP Sender Name:

The SCMP-sender-name header is used to designate the SCMP sender name.
Therby the sender name can be accessed before any decryption of the
request is performed.

An SCMP-sender-name header will be in this format:

  SCMP-sender-name: CyberSource

The possible sender names MUST be agreed upon by the trading partners.

Use of the remaining standard SMIME (outside MIME entity) headers are assumed.
This includes any additional implementation-specific headers.  These headers
will most likely be ones that need to be processed prior to payload decryption.

3. SCMP Payload-based Headers

This section describes the service-based extensions that MUST be implemented
by both the client and server to insure correct and proper request processing.
Processing the SCMP service headers is the responsibility of the application
processing the request. The following headers are described for the payload of
the S/MIME entity, and MUST be prepared as defined in [MIME]. Thus if the S/MIME
message type is signed/enveloped ( which is recommended ), then the SCMP headers
will be encrypted to protect the privacy of the sender.

3.1. Request Time to Live:

This describes the amount of actual processing time in seconds the client
expects the server to fully complete payload processing prior to responding
with an appropriate reply.

An SCMP server receiving a SCMP message MUST evaluate the request time to live
value and determine if it can execute the required service(s) in the amount
of time designated.  Assuming the server believes it can complete the work
within the allowed time, it will accept the request. If not, it MUST return an
error to the client stating it could not accept the request.

Once a server has accepted a request, it MUST process it until the time to live
value has been reached or until completion. If the time to live value is
reached during execution, the server MUST return an error to the client
stating that a timeout has occurred.  Measures to ensure data integrity
after the time to live value has been exceeded will be the responsibility of the

The time to live header will be in this format:

    SCMP-request-time-to-live: 0..n (seconds)

A client, having received a time-out error message, SHOULD send a
"request status message" to the server, referencing the original
scmp-request-id (from the message that timed out) in the message
payload. The server's reply to this status message would be the reply
that would have been sent had the processing time not exceeded the
time to live metric.

3.2 Request Type:

This header describes the processing mode of the request. Two modes are
supported "batch" and "real". Wherby "batch" mode does not imply any limit on
request processing time. "real" mode requires a limit in processing time as
specified by scmp-request-time-to-live header.

The request type header will be in this format:

    SCMP-request-type: batch|real

An SCMP-request-type value of "batch" MUST cause the server to
respond with an acknowledgement reply to the client. The server SHOULD
then process the message according to an appropriate schedule and respond
to the client as appropriate after completing the actual processing.

3.3  Request Return Path:

This describes the method used to respond to the client after completion
of a "batch" request.  The client will not be notified upon "batch"
request completion if the return path is empty. The return path value MUST
conform to the Uniform Resource Locator specification. [URL]

An example return path would be in this format:

    SCMP-request-return-path: http://www.batch.batch.com:8080

The list of protocols supported MUST be furnished via a private agreement
between trading partners.

3.4. Message Type:

This value specifies the type of payload that is contained in the SCMP
message. The intent of this header is to provide a meta-level
description of the message payload and allow a receiving server to
decide which services or associated algorithms to use in processing
the payload. The message type value SHOULD NOT be the sole
specifier of the services being requested by a client from a

Message type is specified as follows:

    SCMP-message-type: [service-name]/[version-number]

The assignment of service names MUST be provided by the server to a
client at the time a service is published. For instance, if a service
was published called "CommerceService", the SCMP-message-type might
be represented as:

    SCMP-message-type: CommerceService/1.0

It is assumed that trading partners will agree on service names
before request are processed. Additionally servers MUST allow
service names to be configurable, reguardless of what the algorithm
which implements the service does.

3.5. Request ID:

A value in the format described in [822] for the Message-ID header
with the left part constrained to be a 22 character string value.
Request ID's MUST be generated by the client application.

An example of a request scmp-request-id is:

        scmp-request-id: 0917293049096167904518

The scmp-request-id MUST be unique and SHOULD NOT be easy to
predict to prevent a potential denial of service attack. A client
application when preparing the scmp-request-id, SHOULD perform a
random number generation with sufficient degrees of randomness
so as to ensure uniqueness and unpredictability of the result.

Servers MAY use a scmp-request-id as a reference and handle to the
original request.

4. SCMP Data Block (Message Payload)

The payload or data block can be any arbitrary data type in the format as
specified by the SCMP-message-type. This payload forms the content of the
SMIME message as described in [SMIME].

5. Certificates

Every trading partner implementing SCMP MUST exchange certificates that
have been issued and signed by one or more mutually trusted certificate
authorities (CA). These certificates are used to guarantee the
authenticity of public keys. Prior to establishing trading relationships
on the basis of SCMP request, sender and receiver MUST have
acquired mutually acceptable trusted public root certificates in a trusted,
secure, out-of-band manner.

Trading partners, upon receiving or exchanging public key certificates
for the first time, SHOULD validate the certificate and certificate chain
before processing an SCMP request.

It is also recommended that the trading partners re-validate any
certificates and certificate chains on a scheduled basis.

Upon establishing a relationship between trading partners, the recipient
of a new certificate (the server in most cases) SHOULD validate the
certificate as soon as is practically possible.  Certificate re-
validation policy, related to the frequency known certificates are
revalidated against a certificate authority's certificate revocation
list, is not specified by SCMP. This matter is left as a policy decision
for the operator of the SCMP server.

6. Transport Implementations

SCMP can be implemented using any variety of transport methods as agreed
between trading partners. Here are a few examples.

http: This delivers a SCMP message to a server URL and should
      use a POST function.

electronic mail: This will support a queued batch processing service

7. Receiving Server Functions

This section describes minimal server functions required to implement

7.1. General

A SCMP server receives a message from a client, processes the message
and generates a reply. If the message type is signed or signed/enveloped
the server initially validates the outer signature. If the outer signature
is not valid the server MUST NOT process the request further.

7.1.1. Message Timestamp

The time a request was sent will be derived from the standard SMIME
date header. If a client is specifying a time to live the client SHOULD
be synchronized using [NTP] or Secure NTP. The sender of an SCMP message
will place the time a message was dispatched into the SMIME header in [MIME]
format. The message timestamp SHOULD be included in the SCMP payload if
possible and used, in combination with the scmp-request-id, by the server
to prevent a replay attack.

It is recommended that servers run a client-visible NTP server to
allow sending agents running SCMP client applications to synchronize
clocks as required.

7.2. Application issues

The server SHOULD evaluate the signature of the message, (if the message
is of signed or signed/enveloped type ), prior to processing the message
payload. Within this process the server SHOULD obtain the senders
certificate via. the distinguished name in the certificate as described

Assuming the SCMP message's signature is valid, the server will process
requests based on the SCMP-message-type value.

7.2.1. Request Serialization

A server may not guarantee serialized request processing. If
requests must be serialized, it is expected that all of the
serialized transactions will be received in a single message
payload or that other content specific serialization systems will be

7.2.2. Server Errors

A server may encounter several classes of error conditions. The
server MUST be capable of reporting an error as described in section 8
of this document. Detection may vary based on specific implementation.

A server MUST be capable of detecting a duplicate scmp-request-id
and notify the sending client application of the duplicate request.
Duplicate request detection MUST be based on the scmp-request-id
and the distinguished name of the signer to prevent denial of service
attacks. Servers MUST take steps to prevent error conditions in which
request retries overlap the original request processing. In this
case the server MUST NOT respond to the retry until the original result
is available.

In the event of a duplicate request being detected the server MUST:
        1) lookup the prior request
        2) verify the sender is the same
        3) return an appropriate error message to the client.

In the event that the three above steps fail, the server MUST return
an appropriate SCMP error message.

8. Protocol Level Error Messages

In general SCMP does not concern itself with application level errors.
Such errors MUST be returned in an SCMP reply with appropriate
application specific formatting.

8.1. Format

SCMP error messages are returned by a server as signed data. SCMP errors
MUST NOT be encrypted to permit clients to process encryption related

The format of SCMP errors is:

     SCMP <error number> <error message text>

8.2. Client Application Error Handling

Client action in the case of error return is error specific and not
defined. If the server fails to return any reply within twice the
time to live requested (due to unspecified server or network
failure) the client SHOULD re-send the request. Upon receipt of a
duplicate request the server will respond as described in 7.1.3.
Clients MUST NOT retry a request in less than the time to live
interval of the original request.

9. Author's Address

Tom Arnold
CyberSource Corporation
550 S. Winchester Blvd., #301
San Jose, CA 95128
E-mail: dptom@cybersource.com
Phone: 408-556-9100

Jason Eaton
CyberSource Corporation
550 S. Winchester Blvd., #301
San Jose, CA 95128
E-mail: jeaton@cybersource.com
Phone: 408-556-9100

Michael Jimenez
CyberSource Corporation
550 S. Winchester Blvd., #301
San Jose, CA 95128
E-mail: mjimenez@cybersource.com
Phone: 408-556-9100

Hubert Chen
CyberSource Corporation
550 S. Winchester Blvd., #301
San Jose, CA 95128
E-mail: mjimenez@cybersource.com
Phone: 408-556-9100

10. Acknowledgements

Several persons (in alphabetic order) have contributed, and continue to
contribute significantly through their participation in an industry-
based EMAP (Electronic products Messaging and Protocol) committee.
Through their participation and continued support SCMP will continue to
develop into a functioning, on-line Internet commerce messaging
protocol. Their contributions are greatly appreciated.

Ron Bose (LitleNet), Len Cantor (IBM), Hubert Chen (CyberSource), Tony
Curwen (Ingram Micro), Mike Myers (Verisign), John Pettitt (Beyond.com),
Jesse Rendleman (CyberSource), Don Sloan (Tech Data), Frank Tyksen
(Portland Software), Paul Guthrie (VISA)

11. References

[822]              D. Crocker, "Standard for the format of ARPA Internet
                   text messages." RFC 0822, IETF, Aug. 1982.

[SMIME]            Blake Ramsdell, "S/MIME Message Specification",
                   work in progress, IETF Internet Draft, draft-ietf-
                   smime-msg-05.txt, Aug. 1998.

[CMS]              R. Housley, "Cryptograpic Message Syntax", work
                   in progress, IETF  Internet Draft,draft-ietf-
                   smime-cms-06.txt, June. 1998.

[MIME]             "MIME Part1: Format of Internet Message Bodies", RFC
                   2045; "MIME Part2: Media Types", RFC 2046; "MIME Part
                   3: Message Header Extensions for Non-ASCII Text", RFC
                   2047; "MIME Part 4: Registration Procedures", RFC
                   2048; "MIME Part 5: Conformance Criteria and
                   Examples", RFC 2049, IETF.

[MUSTSHOULD]       "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement
                   Levels", RFC 2119, IETF.

[NTP]              D. Mills. "Network Time Protocol", RFC 1119, IETF,
                   September 1989.

[PKCS-7]           B. Kaliski, "PKCS 7: Cryptographic Message Syntax
                   Version 1-5", IETF, March 1998.

[URL]              Berners-Lee, T., Masinter, L., and M. McCahill.
                   "Universal Resource Locators", RFC 1738, Dec. 1994.