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Re: Fwd: I-D Action: draft-melnikov-pop3-over-tls-01.txt
From a technical viewpoint, I have two suggestions:
Add to section 2.1:
Servers that lack configuration to accept an X.509 client certificate for
authentication purposes MUST NOT send a CertificateRequest handshake to
during TLS negotiation.
Also in section 2.1:
SHALL use some other way to identify itself, e.g. USER and PASS
MAY close the connection or try a different authentication mechanism
and PASS commands).
It's a spec error to disallow a client configuration that requires use of
client certificate authentication. For high security sites, a password
fallback is not acceptable.
There are two general editorial problems: 1. issues that might cause
problems during last call. 2. the text could be simplified in several
Here are some editorial suggestions:
In Abstract, OLD:
This document specifies how the Post Office Protocol, Version 3
(POP3) may be secured with Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol,
by establishing TLS layer connection directly before POP3
transaction. It updates RFC 1939 and RFC 2595.
This document specifies use of Transport Layer Security (TLS) on
port 995 to protect Post Office Protocol, Version 3. It updates RFC 2595.
Discussion: This no longer changes any rules in RFC 1939, so I see no
reason to update that specification -- perhaps best to avoid the debates
about "does this update spec XXX?" and "what does it mean for a proposed
standard to update a full standard?" during last call.
Introduction (simplify) NEW:
The Post Office Protocol version 3 (POP3) [RFC1939], is an
application-layer protocol used by local e-mail clients to retrieve
e-mail from a remote server over a TCP/IP connection. It supports
a simple download-and-delete model for access to remote
mailboxes (also called a maildrop).
As POP3 transfers sensitive information, there is a need
for privacy protection. Transport Layer Security (TLS) [RFC5246] and
its deprecated predecessor Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) [RFC6101] are
used for this purpose.
[Discussion: I believe it's incorrect to state POP3 was intended to be in
the clear -- I recall someone, perhaps Marshall Rose telling me the
intention was to use whatever privacy mechanism the lower layers defined
(e.g. IPsec). SSL/TLS became necessary because IPsec wasn't sufficiently
deployable. Also it's inaccurate to say TLS is the only mechanism -- that
will just annoy security geeks during last call who have used KPOP and
Two mechanisms to protect POP3 using TLS have been deployed. One
TLS within POP3 (also known as upgrading to TLS) [RFC2595]. The other
starts TLS prior to starting the POP3 application layer. The latter
mechanism (called "POP3S" throughout this document) has not been
specified in an RFC. This document specifies POP3S.
RFC 6186 [RFC6186] specifies use of DNS SRV records [RFC2782]
to locate email access services. It supports both POP3S and POP3 upgraded
to TLS. For more information, refer to Section 3.3 of RFC 6186.
to verify server's certificate. Upon successful negotiation all data
SASL EXTERNAL mechanism, which is defined in Appendix A of RFC 4422
authentication using X.509 certificate MUST support SASL EXTERNAl
convention on using X.509 certificate for authentication, the client
Suggest removing this:
Anyway, as soon as the client authenticates itself, and the server
verifies its credentials, they both enter TRANSACTION state and begin
exchanging POP commands and replies.
or rewording as:
As with POP3, POP3S enters TRANSACTION state after the server sends
a +OK response to an authentication command.
Please note that per RFC 6176 [RFC6176], neither clients nor servers
must perform attempts to negotiate use of SSL 2.0.
SSL 2.0 MUST NOT be used for POP3S, see RFC 6176 [RFC6176] for details.
terminate its part of connection without waiting a response from the
Section 2.4 (simplify):
POP3S uses port 995. Section 4 updates the IANA registration for port
Section 2.5 (simplify/clarify):
Section 7 of RFC 2595 [RFC 2595] expresses concerns about use of a
port. The concern about port usage does not apply as port 995 was
registered. RFC 6186 mitigates the other concerns. The usefulness of
outweighs the mitigated flaws so the statement in section 7 of RFC 2595
discouraging use of pop3s is rescinded.
Discussion: this makes it is clear why RFC 2595 is amended but does not
declare the advice in RFC 2595 invalid, thus avoiding the entire debate
about whether separate-port or upgrade-to-TLS is better. Best to avoid
unnecessary debates when getting a spec standardized...
Section 3 (simplify):
POP3S uses TLS [RFC5246] to provide protection from eavesdropping and
tampering with POP3 protocol content. The security considerations of TLS
and those related to server identity verification [RFC6125]