Re: [Gen-art] Gen-ART review of draft-ietf-oauth-v2-bearer-15.txt

Mike Jones <> Mon, 30 January 2012 05:20 UTC

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From: Mike Jones <>
To: Alexey Melnikov <>, "" <>, General Area Review Team <>, IETF-Discussion Discussion <>, "" <>
Thread-Topic: Gen-ART review of draft-ietf-oauth-v2-bearer-15.txt
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Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2012 05:20:15 +0000
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Subject: Re: [Gen-art] Gen-ART review of draft-ietf-oauth-v2-bearer-15.txt
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Thanks for your useful feedback, Alexey.  Below, I'll respond to each of your comments.  I've also added the OAuth working group to the thread, so they are aware of them as well and can participate in the discussion.

About your first issue with the WWW-Authenticate ABNF, I am already working with Julian, Mark Nottingham, and the chairs to resolve this issue.  Expect to see a proposal for review by the working group shortly.

About your comments on scope:  OAuth 2.0 (both the Core and Bearer specs) is designed to be deployed in diverse and non-interoperable application contexts, meeting a variety of application needs.  In those various settings, which are often distinct and potentially non-interoperable, parameters such as scope, realm, etc. may have very different meanings.  This is not a bug; it is a feature, because it allows the OAuth pattern to meet the needs of numerous, often distinct, application environments.  For that reason, a registry of scope (or realm) parameters would be ill-advised and counterproductive.  It's perfectly OK and expected for a scope value such as "email" to have one meaning in one application context and a different meaning in a different, but distinct application context.  Trying to impose a single meaning on particular scope values across distinct application contexts is both unnecessary and could break many existing deployments.  That being said, we fully expect interoperability profiles to emerge that define interoperable sets of scope values within particular application contexts.  (The OpenID Connect specifications are one such set of profiles.)  But these meanings will always be context-specific - not global in scope.

About your first minor issue, I'll reorder the bullets so the statement about the entity-body being single part is followed by the statement about it using application/x-www-form-urlencoded, so they will be read together.

About your second minor issue on error codes, the error codes registry already exists, but is in the OAuth Core spec.  See

About your third minor issue on RFC 6125 versus RFC 2818, you'll find that, per the history entries, a previous reference to RFC 2818 was changed to RFC 6125 in draft 14 at the request of Security Area Director Stephen Farrell.  If you'd like to see this reference reintroduced, I'd request that you work with Stephen on specific alternative proposed wording that is acceptable to both of you.

Finally, I'll address both of your nits in the manner you suggested.

				Thanks again,
				-- Mike

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Alexey Melnikov
Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2012 8:38 AM
To: General Area Review Team; IETF-Discussion Discussion;
Subject: Gen-ART review of draft-ietf-oauth-v2-bearer-15.txt

I am the assigned Gen-ART reviewer for this draft. For background on Gen-ART, please see the FAQ at <>.

Please resolve these comments along with any other Last Call comments you may receive.

Document: draft-ietf-oauth-v2-bearer-15.txt
Reviewer: Alexey Melnikov
Review Date: 29 Jan 2012
IETF LC End Date: 7 Feb 2012
IESG Telechat date: (if known) -

Summary: Mostly ready, with a couple of things that should be addressed.

Major Issues:

I have 2 issues in section 3:

3.  The WWW-Authenticate Response Header Field

    If the protected resource request does not include authentication
    credentials or does not contain an access token that enables access
    to the protected resource, the resource server MUST include the HTTP
    "WWW-Authenticate" response header field; it MAY include it in
    response to other conditions as well.  The "WWW-Authenticate" header
    field uses the framework defined by HTTP/1.1, Part 7
    [I-D.ietf-httpbis-p7-auth] as follows:

    challenge       = "Bearer" [ 1*SP 1#param ]

    param           = realm / scope /
                      error / error-desc / error-uri /

    scope           = "scope" "=" quoted-string
    error           = "error" "=" quoted-string
    error-desc      = "error_description" "=" quoted-string
    error-uri       = "error_uri" "=" quoted-string

1). I am agreeing with Julian about redefinition of ABNF from HTTPBis documents. I believe there is a proposal to fix that but the new draft hasn't been posted yet.

2). My 2nd major issue is about the following paragraph:

    The "scope" attribute is a space-delimited list of scope values
    indicating the required scope of the access token for accessing the
    requested resource.  In some cases, the "scope" value will be used
    when requesting a new access token with sufficient scope of access to
    utilize the protected resource.  The "scope" attribute MUST NOT
    appear more than once.  The "scope" value is intended for
    programmatic use and is not meant to be displayed to end users.

I don't think this provide enough information about what this is, how it is to be used and which values are allowed. As this is not meant to be displayed to end users, then you need to say what values are allowed and which entity can allocate them. Is there a registry for these tokens, e.g. an IANA registry?

Minor Issues:

2.2.  Form-Encoded Body Parameter

    When sending the access token in the HTTP request entity-body, the
    client adds the access token to the request body using the
    "access_token" parameter.  The client MUST NOT use this method unless
    all of the following conditions are met:

    o  The HTTP request entity-body is single-part.

    o  The entity-body follows the encoding requirements of the
       "application/x-www-form-urlencoded" content-type as defined by
       HTML 4.01 [W3C.REC-html401-19991224].

    o  The HTTP request entity-header includes the "Content-Type" header
       field set to "application/x-www-form-urlencoded".

I would combine the first and the third bullet into a single statement, because they seem to be a bit confusing while being read separately.
(I.e., is it possible to have Content-Type of "application/x-www-form-urlencoded" with something which is multipart?)

Section "3.1.  Error Codes"

I recommend creating an IANA registry for these or explain why one is not needed.

4.2.  Threat Mitigation

    To protect against token disclosure, confidentiality protection MUST
    be applied using TLS [RFC5246] with a ciphersuite that provides
    confidentiality and integrity protection.  This requires that the
    communication interaction between the client and the authorization
    server, as well as the interaction between the client and the
    resource server, utilize confidentiality and integrity protection.
    Since TLS is mandatory to implement and to use with this
    specification, it is the preferred approach for preventing token
    disclosure via the communication channel.  For those cases where the
    client is prevented from observing the contents of the token, token
    encryption MUST be applied in addition to the usage of TLS
    protection.  As a further defense against token disclosure, the
    client MUST validate the TLS certificate chain when making requests
    to protected resources.


    To deal with token capture and replay, the following recommendations
    are made: First, the lifetime of the token MUST be limited; one means
    of achieving this is by putting a validity time field inside the
    protected part of the token.  Note that using short-lived (one hour
    or less) tokens reduces the impact of them being leaked.  Second,
    confidentiality protection of the exchanges between the client and
    the authorization server and between the client and the resource
    server MUST be applied.  As a consequence, no eavesdropper along the
    communication path is able to observe the token exchange.
    Consequently, such an on-path adversary cannot replay the token.
    Furthermore, when presenting the token to a resource server, the
    client MUST verify the identity of that resource server, as per
    Representation and Verification of Domain-Based Application Service
    Identity within Internet Public Key Infrastructure Using X.509 (PKIX)
    Certificates in the Context of Transport Layer Security (TLS)

Firstly, I would move the RFC 6125 reference to the first paragraph quoted above (but see below). Secondly, you should either normatively reference RFC 2818 (HTTP over TLS) instead of RFC 6125, or you need to provide more information about how RFC 6125 is to be used, because it has several options which need to be described (use of SRV-IDs, URI-IDs, DNS-IDs, use of wildcards). I suspect you should just reference RFC 2818.


2.2.  Form-Encoded Body Parameter

    o  The content to be encoded in the entity-body MUST consist entirely
       of ASCII characters.

ASCII needs a reference.

ID-nits reports:

   == The document seems to lack the recommended RFC 2119 boilerplate, even if
      it appears to use RFC 2119 keywords -- however, there's a paragraph with
      a matching beginning. Boilerplate error?

      (The document does seem to have the reference to RFC 2119 which the
      ID-Checklist requires).
   == Using lowercase 'not' together with uppercase 'MUST', 'SHALL', 'SHOULD',
      or 'RECOMMENDED' is not an accepted usage according to RFC 2119. 
      use uppercase 'NOT' together with RFC 2119 keywords (if that is what you


      Found 'MUST not' in this paragraph:

      o  Stated that bearer tokens MUST not be stored in cookies that can
      be sent in the clear in the Threat Mitigation section.
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