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Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) Multiple Signer Clarification
RFC 4853

Document type: RFC - Proposed Standard (April 2007; Errata)
Updates RFC 3852
Document stream: IETF
Last updated: 2013-03-02
Other versions: plain text, pdf, html

IETF State: (None)
Consensus: Unknown
Document shepherd: No shepherd assigned

IESG State: RFC 4853 (Proposed Standard)
Responsible AD: Sam Hartman
Send notices to: smime-chairs@tools.ietf.org, housley@vigilsec.com

Network Working Group                                         R. Housley
Request for Comments: 4853                                Vigil Security
Updates: 3852                                                 April 2007
Category: Standards Track

                   Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS)
                     Multiple Signer Clarification

Status of This Memo

   This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
   Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet
   Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state
   and status of this protocol.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The IETF Trust (2007).

Abstract

   This document updates the Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS), which
   is published in RFC 3852.  This document clarifies the proper
   handling of the SignedData protected content type when more than one
   digital signature is present.

Housley                     Standards Track                     [Page 1]
RFC 4853           CMS Multiple Signer Clarification          April 2007

1.  Introduction

   This document updates the Cryptographic Message Syntax [CMS].  The
   CMS SignedData protected content type allows multiple digital
   signatures, but the specification is unclear about the appropriate
   processing by a recipient of such a signed content.  This document
   provides replacement text for a few paragraphs, making it clear that
   the protected content is validly signed by a given signer, if any of
   the digital signatures from that signer are valid.

   This property is especially important in two cases.  First, when the
   recipients do not all implement the same digital signature algorithm,
   a signer can sign the content with several different digital
   signature algorithms so that each of the recipients can find an
   acceptable signature.  For example, if some recipients support RSA
   and some recipients support ECDSA, then the signer can generate two
   signatures, one with RSA and one with ECDSA, so that each recipient
   will be able to validate one of the signatures.  Second, when a
   community is transitioning one-way hash functions or digital
   signature algorithms, a signer can sign the content with the older
   and the newer signature algorithms so that each recipient can find an
   acceptable signature, regardless of their state in the transition.
   For example, consider a transition from RSA with SHA-1 to RSA with
   SHA-256.  The signer can generate two signatures, one with SHA-1 and
   one with SHA-256, so that each recipient will be able to validate at
   least one of the RSA signatures.

2.  Terminology

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this
   document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [STDWORDS].

3.  Update to RFC 3852, Section 5: Signed-data Content Type

   RFC 3852, section 5, the next to the last paragraph says:

|  A recipient independently computes the message digest.  This message
|  digest and the signer's public key are used to verify the signature
|  value.  The signer's public key is referenced either by an issuer
|  distinguished name along with an issuer-specific serial number or by
|  a subject key identifier that uniquely identifies the certificate
|  containing the public key.  The signer's certificate can be included
|  in the SignedData certificates field.

Housley                     Standards Track                     [Page 2]
RFC 4853           CMS Multiple Signer Clarification          April 2007

   This block of text is replaced with:

|  A recipient independently computes the message digest.  This message
|  digest and the signer's public key are used to verify the signature
|  value.  The signer's public key is referenced either by an issuer
|  distinguished name along with an issuer-specific serial number or by
|  a subject key identifier that uniquely identifies the certificate
|  containing the public key.  The signer's certificate can be included
|  in the SignedData certificates field.
|
|  When more than one signature is present, the successful validation
|  of one signature associated with a given signer is usually treated
|  as a successful signature by that signer.  However, there are some
|  application environments where other rules are needed.  An
|  application that employs a rule other than one valid signature for
|  each signer must specify those rules.  Also, where simple matching of

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