[Rats] clarity on JWT vs YANG-serialization: base64 vs base64url

Michael Richardson <mcr+ietf@sandelman.ca> Mon, 11 November 2019 00:24 UTC

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From: Michael Richardson <mcr+ietf@sandelman.ca>
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Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2019 08:21:00 +0800
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Subject: [Rats] clarity on JWT vs YANG-serialization: base64 vs base64url
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When it comes to JWT encapsulation and YANG serialized JSON there are
some potential conflicts that I want to bring up.  This is worth a 5
minute discussion at a future meeting (perhaps premature for IETF106).

I've posted about this to other lists in the past two weeks, but I don't
have the references, and I don't have enough Internet to look them up
from here.

The specific conflict is that JWT, coming from the web space, uses
base64URL encoding for binary objects (signatures..., etc.) while YANG,
uses base64 encoding for binary objects.  This is a documentation
annoyance, but it will catch at least one implementer.

Tolerant decoders might accept both (but neither Python or Ruby base64
decoders are tolerant), but I don't think we can in general, demand that
either is acceptable, so we have to say which to use each time.

We will just have to be clear going forward, and hit people over the
head with this.  I can easily see YANG described data (signatures on
Evidence) from a TPM device being base64 encoded, and then placed into a
JWT container which is base64URL signed (for a Claim).