anima Working Group                                        M. Richardson
Internet-Draft                                  Sandelman Software Works
Intended status: Standards Track                         21 January 2021
Expires: 25 July 2021


            On storing CBOR encoded items on stable storage
                  draft-richardson-cbor-file-magic-01

Abstract

   This document proposes an on-disk format for CBOR objects that is
   friendly to common on-disk recognition systems like the Unix file(1)
   command.

   This document is being discussed at: https://github.com/mcr/cbor-
   magic-number

Status of This Memo

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

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   This Internet-Draft will expire on 25 July 2021.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2021 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

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   provided without warranty as described in the Simplified BSD License.



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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Requirements for a Magic Number . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  Protocol Proposal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   4.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   5.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   6.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   7.  Changelog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   8.  References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     8.1.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     8.2.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   Contributors  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5

1.  Introduction

   Since very early in computing, operating systems have sought ways to
   mark which files could be processed by which programs.

   For instance, the Unix file(1) command, which has existed since 1973
   ([file]), has been able to identify many file formats for decades.
   Many systems (Linux, MacOS, Windows) will select the correct
   application based upon the file contents, if the system can not
   determine it by other means: for instsance, MacOS maintains a
   resource fork that includes MIME information and therefore ideally
   never needs to know what anything about the file.  Other systems do
   this by file extensions.

   While having a MIME type associated with the file is a better
   solution in general, when files become disconnected from their type
   information, such as when attempting to do forensics on a damaged
   system, then being able to identify a file type can become very
   important.

   It is noted that in the MIME type registration, that a magic number
   is asked for, if available, as is a file extension.

   A challenge for the file(1) program is often that it can be confused
   by the encoding vs the content.  For instance, an Android "apk" used
   to transfer and store an application may be identified as a ZIP file.
   Both OpenOffice or MSOffice files are XML files, but appear as ZIP,
   unless they are flat files, in which case they appear to be generic
   XML files.







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   As CBOR becomes a more and more common encoding for a wide variety of
   artifacts, identifying them as CBOR is probably not useful.  This
   document provides a way to encode a magic number into the beginning
   of a CBOR format file.  Two options are presented, with the intention
   of standardizing only one.

   These proposals are invasive to how CBOR protocols are written to
   disk, but in both cases, the proposed envelope does not require that
   the tag be transfered on the wire.

   In addition to the on-disk identification aspects, there are some
   protocols which may benefit from having such a magic on the wire if
   they presently using a different (legacy) encoding scheme.  The
   presence of the identifiable magic sequence signals that CBOR is
   being used or a legacy scheme.

2.  Requirements for a Magic Number

   A magic number is ideally a unique fingerprint, present in the first
   4 or 8 bytes of the file, which does not change when the content
   change, and does not depend upon the length of the file.

   Less ideal solutions have a pattern that needs to be matched, but in
   which some bytes need to be ignored.  While the Unix file(1) command
   can be told to ignore bytes, this can lead to ambiguities.

3.  Protocol Proposal

   This proposal makes use of CBOR Sequences as described in [RFC8742].

   This proposal consists of two tags and a constant string for a total
   of 12 bytes.

   1.  The file shall start with the Self-described CBOR tag, 55799, as
       described in [RFC8949] section 3.4.6.

   2.  The file shall continue with a CBOR tag, from the First Come
       First Served space, which uniquely identifies the CBOR Protocol.
       The use of a four-byte tag is encouraged.

   3.  The three byte CBOR array containing 0x42_4F_52.  When encoded it
       shows up as "CBOR"

   The first part identifies the file as being CBOR, and does so with
   all the desirable properties explained in Specifically, it does not
   seem to conflict with any known file types, and it is not valid
   Unicode.[RFC8949] section 3.4.6.




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   The second part identifies which CBOR Protocol is used.  CBOR
   Protocol designers should obtain a tag for each major object that
   they might store on disk.  As there are more than 4 million available
   4-byte tags, there should be issue in allocating a few to all
   available CBOR Protocols.  The policy is First Come First Served, so
   all that is required is an email to IANA, having filled in the small
   template provided in section 9.2 of [RFC8949].

   The third part is a constant value 0x43_42_4f_52, "CBOR".  This means
   that should a file be reviewed by a human (directly in an editor, or
   in a hexdump display), it will include the string "CBOR" prominently.
   The value is also included because the two tags need to tag
   something.

4.  Security Considerations

   This document provides a way to identify CBOR Protocol objects.
   Clearly identifying CBOR contents on disk may have a variety of
   impacts.

   The most obvious is that it may allow malware to identify interesting
   objects on disk, and then corrupt them.

5.  IANA Considerations

   This document makes no new requests to IANA.

6.  Acknowledgements

   The CBOR WG brainstormed this protocol on January 20, 2021.

7.  Changelog

8.  References

8.1.  Normative References

   [BCP14]    Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC
              2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174,
              May 2017, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8174>.

   [RFC8742]  Bormann, C., "Concise Binary Object Representation (CBOR)
              Sequences", RFC 8742, DOI 10.17487/RFC8742, February 2020,
              <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8742>.







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   [RFC8949]  Bormann, C. and P. Hoffman, "Concise Binary Object
              Representation (CBOR)", STD 94, RFC 8949,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC8949, December 2020,
              <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8949>.

8.2.  Informative References

   [file]     Wikipedia, "file (command)", 20 January 2021,
              <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_%28command%29>.

   [ilbm]     Wikipedia, "Interleaved BitMap", 20 January 2021,
              <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ILBM>.

Contributors

Author's Address

   Michael Richardson
   Sandelman Software Works

   Email: mcr+ietf@sandelman.ca






























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