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Telechat Review of draft-ietf-cellar-flac-12

Request Review of draft-ietf-cellar-flac
Requested revision No specific revision (document currently at 14)
Type Telechat Review
Team Security Area Directorate (secdir)
Deadline 2023-10-17
Requested 2023-10-02
Authors Martijn van Beurden , Andrew Weaver
I-D last updated 2023-10-12
Completed reviews Genart Last Call review of -11 by Reese Enghardt (diff)
Secdir Telechat review of -12 by Robert Sparks (diff)
Assignment Reviewer Robert Sparks
State Completed
Request Telechat review on draft-ietf-cellar-flac by Security Area Directorate Assigned
Posted at
Reviewed revision 12 (document currently at 14)
Result Has issues
Completed 2023-10-12
I have reviewed this document as part of the security directorate's ongoing
effort to review all IETF documents being processed by the IESG. These comments
were written primarily for the benefit of the security area directors. Document
editors and WG chairs should treat these comments just like any other review

This document is very thorough and well-written. The security considerations
section, in particular, reflects significant effort.

It is almost ready for publication a Proposed Standard RFC. There is at least
one issue to address before publication, however.



The discussion (and possibly the specification) of the use of URLs in metadata
blocks is insufficient. Relying only on explicit user approval to access the
resource still leaves many possible exploits. What does explicit approval mean?
Is clicking approval once in an application to say "Yes, you can download album
cover art" sufficient? Consider an instance, particularly one served over HTTP
using the content type registered by this document that becomes virally popular
and contains a URL pointing to a victim. Consider again such a thing where the
contained URL is, perhaps by mistake, exactly the URL originally retrieved
(causing a naive implementation to enter a request loop). Some additional
discussion of what is reasonable to retrieve is warranted, and the spirit of
same-origin should be taken into account. Privacy should also be mentioned -
what sort of tracking can be accomplished through accesses to the URL?

There should also be acknowledgment of the risks of allowing arbitrary content
to be bundled into FLAC files, particularly in contexts where the MIME type
defined in this document is used (web retrieval, multipart/mime in email,
wherever else). How might this be used to circumvent content security policies
at firewalls, for example? The document already acknowledges that executable
code can appear here, but that's only one type of risk, and the discussion in
the document steers quickly to the implication that the executable code is not
malicious. Is it ever safe to actually execute such code?

Minor issue:

"mux" is used 5 times in the document (in various forms) without definition,
and once normatively: "The offsets MUST NOT be updated on muxing to reflect the
new offsets of FLAC frames in a container."
Nit issue:

This is really almost editorial, but I'm pulling up here so that the SEC ADs
see it early; It's a little odd to lean on RFC4732 they way the document does.
I understand the intent, but it requires the reader to do some lateral thinking
to apply that RFCs guidance to this document. Consider some words motivating
how you are intending for it to apply here.


More of a question than an issue, but I think the ADs consider the answer: Why
isn't this document moving the registry currently at to IANA?


The rest are editorial comments in document order:

Definitions at *Interchannel samples* - you define counts here not samples -
maybe the list item should be *Interchannel sample counts*

"side-right" and "right-side" appear 2 and 3 times (not counting capitalized
uses), respectively, in the document. Are the intended to mean the same thing?
Is there a need to have two terms?

"does not lead to non-lossless behavior" is a bit of a head-spin. Would "does
not lead to lossy behavior" suffice?

It would be nice to explicitly say _why_ you allowed a mix of big and
little-endian encoding when you note it just after Table 1.

Who is the first sentence of section 6 for? Consider deleting it and renaming
the section 6 to "An overview of the FLAC format layout"

At "FLAC supports up to 127 kinds of metadata blocks", consider removing "up
to". It supports exactly 127 kinds of metadata blocks.

Consider deleting the one use of "et cetera" - the sentence already says the
list isn't exclusive.

Consider quoting "fLaC" when your are talking specifically about the marker in
prose everywhere (as you quote it in 10.3)

What is "pure" overhead? Consider removing the word "pure".

At the restriction in section 7 of the maximum block size for 48kHz audio to
4608 - consider showing where 4608 came from.

It takes a moment to realize what Table 3 is intended to convey. A short
introductory sentence or a table caption would go a long way to help the reader.

At 8.3 - it might be nice to note that the n in u(n) here is what's present in
the 3 bytes of metadata header block length.

Consider replacing the places you use NUL with 0x00 (which you use elsewhere in
the document). This makes it more clearer how many 0 bits you really mean.
Remember ASCII started out as 7-bits - RFC20 talks about sticking it in an 8
bit byte.

I will almost, but not entirely, let "A bright colored fish" pass without
comment as it's not this document's responsibility.

In 9.1.5 at "non-consecutive" did you mean perhaps "strictly increasing".
Consecutive coded frame numbers might make sense, but sample numbers wouldn't.

There's a word missing in "There are also audio processors like lossyWAV that
enable users to improve compression of their files by a lossless audio codec in
a non-lossless way." Perhaps "by using a"?

Consider breaking the discussion of bit depth of a subframe out of section
9.2.3 into its own section - it stands (and is used in other parts of the
document) for other things than constant subframes.

At "This means that decoding MUST be a sequential process" - I think you should
say "is necessarily" instead of "MUST be". This really isn't using the 2119
term as intended.

In 9.2.6 consider being explicit about whether the coefficients are each
represented as 2's complement signed?

At section 10, I am suspicious that "very thin transport layer" is not going to
communicate what you really mean, but have no immediate suggestions for

In the first sentence of Appendix A - consider "is" rather than "MUST be".

At Appendix C.5 - Consider saying "32768" explicitly rather than "last block".
(Especially if you didn't _mean_ 32768, but rather the whole last row of Table

I don't know what it means to satisfy an interoperability consideration. Please
consider rewriting the sentences in C.7 that use the construct.

And finally - Please reconsider using the TITLE example in D.2.5 that leaves
you using an rtl script inline with the ltr prose. You are within your rights
to do so, but it is stabbing at a place where the world (not just our own
tooling) isn't as ready as we would like it to be.