Re: [xmpp] Fwd: [POSH] What's the point of using JWKs in POSH?

Matt Miller <> Wed, 04 June 2014 22:46 UTC

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Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2014 16:46:21 -0600
From: Matt Miller <>
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Cc: Thijs Alkemade <>
Subject: Re: [xmpp] Fwd: [POSH] What's the point of using JWKs in POSH?
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On 6/4/14, 4:17 PM, Matt Miller wrote:
> [ Forwarding to the mailing list on behalf of Thjis 
> Alkemade ]
> Hello,
> Today, I've spent some time on trying to implement POSH-checking
> for My implementation aimed to do two things: doing the 
> validation as described and showing someone how they could set up 
> their .well-known file by converting their X509 certificates to
> JSON Web Keys.
> The latter part was a lot more work than the former and made me
> wonder why it is defined the way it is.
> From draft-ietf-xmpp-posh:
> Each included JWK object MUST possess the following information:
> o  The "kty" field set to the appropriate key type used for TLS 
> connections (e.g., "RSA" for a certificate using an RSA key).
> o  The required public parameters for the key type (e.g., "n" and
> "e" for a certificate using an RSA key).
> o  The "x5t" field set to the certificate thumbprint, as described
> in section 3.6 of [JOSE-JWK].
> Yet the data that is required in the first and second bullet is
> never used. It doesn't specify if and how clients should verify
> it. Verification only uses the x5t field and optionally x5c.
> There are good arguments for "pinning" just the public key. 
> draft-ietf-websec-key-pinning only uses the SPKI field, DANE can
> use either the full cert or its SPKI field (and optionally hashed).
> But the way it is specified here won't allow that: the x5t field
> always needs to be present and clients should verify it.
> So the public parameters of the key are useless here, but they make
> a key >10x as large is they have to be. Generating them is also not
> as easy: most certificate viewers show a SHA1 fingerprint and it's
> really easy to do with the openssl cli tool, but extracting n and e
> and base64-encoding them is a lot more work. I wouldn't even know
> what to do for ECDSA keys.
> Are there any interoperability reasons for using JWKs that I'm not 
> aware of? Couldn't it just use a list of SHA1 hashes?
> Best regards, Thijs

As I stated in the previous venue (, us authors were
originally working to support various other use-cases, such as
browserid.  However, no one is arguing to actually support those other
use-cases, so the desire to use JWKs is much less.

My co-author and I discussed this today, and think what would be best
is to switch from using a JWK-set to (roughly) your suggestion of a
list of hashes.  It would allow us to stay with a single syntax for
both the "by-reference" and "by-value" documents, as well as provide a
simple point of extension (if that is ever necessary).

An example:

    "fingerprints": [
            "sha-1": "ij39Ctarv+LwSw45qoqaZl7venM=",
            "sha-256": "WhEr4Lpv2L5pv769aRj9rrm4G6MNNCfQlre23Gol/eA="
            "sha-1": "JWow1EHNSbNyRfhQchi22bjurr0=",
            "sha-256": "K52a2gXfrjchMLYwv16QyOtv5bkKRE6rnR30hY3JM8k="
    "expires": 604800

Each "fingerprint" is a JSON object, where the key is the hash
algorithm and the value is the base64 encoding of hashing the
DER-encoded certificate with the given algorithm.  I do think that
algorithm agility is necessary, which means something more than a
simple array in my opinion.  Generating this should be very simple; I
could kludge this together on the command-line pretty quickly

If the WG is ok with this, we can get a new revision of
draft-ietf-xmpp-posh out relatively soon (by next week).

- --
- - m&m

Matt Miller < >
Cisco Systems, Inc.
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