Gateways and MIME Security Multiparts (RFC2480)
Original Publication Date: 1999-Jan-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2000-Sep-13
Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)
This document examines the problems associated with use of MIME security multiparts and gateways to non-MIME environments. A set of requirements for gateway behavior are defined which provide facilities necessary to properly accomodate the transfer of security multiparts through gateways.
Network Working Group N. Freed
Request for Comments: 2480 Innosoft International, Inc.
Category: Standards Track January 1999
Gateways and MIME Security Multiparts
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 (C) The Internet Society (1999). All Rights Reserved.
This document examines the problems associated with use of MIME
security multiparts and gateways to non-MIME environments. A set of
requirements for gateway behavior are defined which provide
facilities necessary to properly accomodate the transfer of security
multiparts through gateways.
2. Requirements Notation
This document occasionally uses terms that appear in capital letters.
When the terms "MUST", "MUST NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", and "MAY"
appear capitalized, they are being used to indicate particular
requirements of this specification. A discussion of the meanings of
the terms "MUST", "SHOULD", and "MAY" appears in RFC 1123 ; the
terms "MUST NOT" and "SHOULD NOT" are logical extensions of this
3. The Problem
Security multiparts [RFC-1847] provide an effective way to add
integrity and confidentiality services to protocols that employ MIME
objects [RFC-2045, RFC-2046]. Difficulties arise, however, in
heterogeneous environments involving gateways to environments that
don't support MIME. Specifically:
(1) Security services have to be applied to MIME objects in
their entirety. Failure to do so can lead to security
For example, a signature that covers only object data and not
the object's MIME labels would allow someone to tamper with
the labels in an undetectable fashion. Similarly, failure to
encrypt MIME label information exposes information about the
content that could facilitate traffic analysis.
Composite MIME objects (e.g., multipart/mixed, message/rfc822)
also have to be secured as a unit. Again, failure to do so
may facilitate tampering, reveal important information
unnecessarily, or both.
(2) Gateways that deal with MIME objects have to be able to
convert them to non-MIME formats.