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Request For Comments - RFC2649

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Network Working Group                                       B. Greenblatt
Request for Comments: 2649                                     P. Richard
Category: Experimental                                        August 1999

      An LDAP Control and Schema for Holding Operation Signatures

Status of this Memo

   This memo defines an Experimental Protocol for the Internet
   community.  It does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.
   Discussion and suggestions for improvement are requested.
   Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1999).  All Rights Reserved.


   In many environments clients require the ability to validiate the
   source and integrity of information provided by the directory.  This
   document describes an LDAP message control which allows for the
   retrieval of digitally signed information. This document defines an
   LDAP v3 based mechanism for signing directory operations in order to
   create a secure journal of changes that have been made to each
   directory entry.  Both client and server based signatures are
   supported.  An object class for subsequent retrieval are "journal
   entries" is also defined.  This document specifies LDAP v3 controls
   that enable this functionality.  It also defines an LDAP v3 schema
   that allows for subsequent browsing of the journal information.

Table of Contents

   1. Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   1.1 Audit Trail Mechanism  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   1.2. Handling the Delete Operation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   2. Signed Results Mechanism  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   3. Security Considerations and Other Notes   . . . . . . . . . .   7
   4. References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   5. Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   6. Full Copyright Statement  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10

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RFC 2649                LDAP Control and Schema              August 1999

1.  Introduction

   In many environments clients require the ability to validiate the
   source and integrity of information provided by the directory.  This
   document describes an LDAP message control which allows for the
   retrieval of digitally signed information.  The perspective of this
   document is that the origin of the information that is stored in LDAP
   v3 accessible directories is the LDAP v3 client that creates the
   information.  The source and integrity of the information is
   guaranteed by allowing for the digital signing of the operations that
   make changes to entries in the directory.  The source and integrity
   of an individual LDAP connection can be guaranteed by making use of
   an underlying session layer that provides such services, such as TLS.
   Note that the integrity of an individual connection does not, in and
   of itself guarantee the integrity of the data that comes across the
   connection.  This is due to the fact that the LDAP server is only
   capable of providing information that it has stored.  In distributed
   and replicated environments, the fact that an entry has been
   successfully retrieved from a server may not be completely
   reassuring, if the entry in question was replicated from an untrusted

   By making use of public key technology, and creating digitally signed
   transactions that are created by the LDAP v3 client as entries are
   created and modified, a complete journal of the history of the entry
   is available.  Since each entry in the journal has been digitally
   signed with the private key of the creator, or modifier of the entry,
   the source and integrity of the directory entry can be validated by
   verifying the signature of each entry in the journal.  Note that not
   all of the journal entries will have been signed by the same user.

1.1.  Audit Trail Mechanism

   Signed directory operations is a straightforward application of
   S/MIME technology that also leverages the extensible framework that
   is provided by LDAP version 3.  LDAP version 3 is defined in [4], and
   S/MIME is defined in [2].  The security used in S/MIME is based in
   the definitions in [1].  The basic idea is that the submitter of an
   LDAP operation that changes the directory information includes an
   LDAP version 3 control that includes either a signature of the
   operation, or a request that the LDAP server sign the operation on
   the behalf of the LDAP client.  The result of the operation (in
   addition to the change of the directory information), is additional
   information that is attached to directory objects, that includes the
   audit trail of signed operations.  The LDAP control is (OID =

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RFC 2649                LDAP Control and Schema              August 1999

      SignedOperation ::= CHOICE {
           signbyServer   NULL,
           signatureIncluded   OCTET STRING

   If the SignatureIncluded CHOICE is used, then the OCTET string is
   just an S/MIME message of the multipart/signed variety, that is
   composed of a single piece, that is the signature of the directory
   operation.  Multipart/signed MIME objects are defined in [3].  If the
   SignbyServer CHOICE us used, then the LDAP server creates the
   signature on behalf of the client, using its own identity and not the
   identity of the client, in order to produce the audit trail entry.
   In either case the successful result of processing the control is the
   creation of additional information in the directory entry that is
   being modified or created. The signature of the LDAP operation is
   computed on the LDAPMessage prior to the inclusion of the
   SignedOperation control. The procedure is as follows:

      - Build LDAPMessage without the SignedOperation control
      - Compute signature on the above LDAPMessage
      - Create new LDAPMessage that includes the old MessageID,
        protocolOp and any control fields from the previous LDAPMessage,
        plus  the computed signature formatted as an S/MIME message.

   No control is defined for the server to return in the LDAPResult as
   defined in [4].  The LDAP server MAY attempt to parse and verify the
   signature included in the SignedOperation control, but is not
   required to.  The server can accept the signed operation without
   verifying the signature.  Signature verification can be quite a
   lengthy operation, requiring complex certificate chain traversals.
   This allows a more timely creation of the audit trail by the server.
   Any LDAP client browsing the directory that retrieves the 'Changes'
   (defined in the following paragraphs) attributes, should verify the
   signature of each value according to the local signature verification
   policies.  Even if the LDAP server verifies the signature contained
   in the singed operation, the LDAP client has no way of knowing what
   policies were followed by the server in order to verify the

   If the LDAP server is unable to verify the signature and wishes to
   return an error then the error code unwillingToPerform(53) should be
   returned, and the entire LDAP operation fails.  In this situation, an
   appropriate message (e.g. "Unable to verify signature") MAY be
   included in the errorMessage of the LDAPResult.  The SignedOperation
   Control MAY be marked CRITICAL, and if it is CRITICAL then if the
   LDAP Server performs the LDAP operation, then must include the
   signature in the signedAuditTrail information.

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RFC 2649                LDAP Control and Schema              August 1999

      The schema definition for the signedAuditTrail information is:

      ( 1.2.840.113549.6.1.0
      NAME 'signedAuditTrail'
      SUP top
      MUST (

      The format of the Changes attribute is:

      ( 1.2.840.113549.6.2.0
      NAME 'Changes'
      DESC 'a set of changes applied to an entry'
      SYNTAX 'Binary' )

      The actual format of the Changes attribute is:

      Changes ::= SEQUENCE {
           sequenceNumber [0] INTEGER (0 .. maxInt),
           signedOperation [1] OCTET STRING }

   The SignedOperation attribute is a multipart/signed S/MIME message.
   Part 1 of the message is the directory operation, and part 2 is the
   signature.  Sequence number 0 (if present) always indicates the
   starting point directory object as represented by the definitions in
   "A MIME Content-Type for Directory Information", as defined in [5].
   Subsequent sequence numbers indicate the sequence of changes that
   have been made to this directory object.  Note that the sequence of
   the changes can be verified due to the fact that the signed directory
   object will have a timestamp as part of the signature object, and
   that the sequence numbering as part of the change attribute should be
   considered to be an unverified aid to the LDAP client.  Sequence
   numbers are meaningful only within the context of a single directory
   entry, and LDAP servers are not expected to maintain these sequence
   numbers across all entries in the directory.

   Some LDAP servers will only allow operations that include the
   SignedOperation control.  This is indicated by the inclusion of a
   'signedDirectoryOperationSupport' attribute in the rootDSE.  This
   attribute is defined as:

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RFC 2649                LDAP Control and Schema              August 1999

      NAME 'signedDirectoryOperationSupport'
      DESC 'how many of the LDAP operations must be signed'
      SYNTAX 'Integer' SINGLE-VALUE )

   The 'signedDirectoryOperationSupport' attribute above may have one of
   the values, '0', '1' or '2' with the following meanings:

      - '0' Directory Operations may be signed
      - '1' Directory Operations must always be signed
      - '2' Directory Operations must never be signed

   Some LDAP servers will desire that the audit trail be continuous, and
   not contain any gaps that would result from unsigned operations.
   Such server will include a signature on each LDAP operation that
   changes a directory entry, even when the LDAP client does not include
   a signed-Operation control.

1.2.  Handling the Delete Operation

   The LDAP Delete operation represents an interesting case for Signed
   Directory Operations.  This is due to the case that subsequent to the
   successful completion of the Delete Operation, the object that would
   have held the latest 'Changes' attribute no longer exists.  In order
   to handle this situation, a new object class is defined to represent
   a directory object that has been deleted.

      ( 1.2.840.113549.6.1.2
      NAME 'zombieObject'
      SUP top
      MUST (
      Cn $ Changes $ OriginalObject

      The format of the OriginalObject attribute is:

      ( 1.2.840.113549.6.2.1
      NAME OriginalObject
      DESC 'The LDAP URL of an object that has been deleted from the
      directory' SYNTAX 'Binary' )

   The OriginalObject attribute contains the URL of the object that was
   deleted from the directory.  It is formatted in accordance with RFC
   2255.  Directory servers that comply with this specification SHOULD
   create a zombieObject when performing the delete Operation that
   contains a SignedOperation LDAPControl.  The Cn attribute of the

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RFC 2649                LDAP Control and Schema              August 1999

   zombieObject is synthesized by the LDAP server, and may or may not be
   related to the original name of the directory entry that was deleted.
   All changes attributes that were attached to the original entry are
   copied over to the zombieObject.  In addition the LDAP Server MUST
   attach the signature of the Delete operation as the last successful
   change that was made to the entry.

2.  Signed Results Mechanism

   A control is also defined that allows the LDAP v3 client to request
   that the server sign the results that it returns.  It is intended
   that this control is primarily used in concert with the LDAPSearch
   operation.  This control MAY be marked as CRITICAL.  If it is marked
   as CRITICAL and the LDAP Server supports this operation, then all
   search results MUST be returned with a signature as attached in the
   SignedResult control if it is willing to sign results for this user.
   If the server supports this control but does not wish to sign the
   results for this user then the error code unwillingToPerform(53)
   should be returned, and the LDAP search will have failed.  In this
   situation, an appropriate message (e.g. "Unwilling to sign results
   for you!") MUST be included in the errorMessage of the LDAPResult.
   If the LDAPSigType has the value FALSE then the client is requesting
   that the server not sign this operation.  This may be done in
   situations where servers are configured to always sign their

   The LDAP control to include in the LDAP request is (OID =

      DemandSignedResult ::=  LDAPSigType

      LDAPSigType ::= BOOLEAN

   In response to a DemandSignedResult control, the LDAP v3 server will
   return a SignedResult control in addition to the normal result as
   defined by the operation (assuming that the server understands the
   con- trol, and is willing to perform it).  The SignedResult control
   MUST NOT be marked CRITICAL.  Some LDAP v3 servers may be configured
   to sign all of their operations.  In this situation the server always
   returns a SignedResult control, unless instructed otherwise by the
   DemandSigne-dResult Control.  Since the SignedResult control is not
   marked critical, the LDAP client is allowed to ignore it.  The
   signature field below includes the signature of the enitre LDAPResult
   formatted as an S/MIME pkcs-7/signature object, as defined in [2].

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RFC 2649                LDAP Control and Schema              August 1999

   The procedure for creating the signature of the signedResult control
   is the same as the procedure for the creation of the signedOperation
   control.  The LDAP control in the LDAP response is (OID =

      SignedResult ::= CHOICE {
           signature     OCTET STRING }

3.  Security Considerations and Other Notes

      The base OIDs are:

      rsadsiLdap ::= {1 2 840 113549 6}
      rsadsiLdapControls ::=  {1 2 840 113549 6 0}
      rsadsiLdapObjectClasses ::= {1 2 840 113549 6 1}
      rsadsiLdapAttributes ::= {1 2 840 113549 6 2}

      The complete ASN.1 module for this specification is:


      SignedOperation ::= CHOICE {
           signbyServer   NULL,
           signatureIncluded   OCTET STRING

      Changes ::= SEQUENCE {
           sequenceNumber [0] INTEGER (0 .. maxInt),
           signedOperation [1] OCTET STRING }

      DemandSignedResult ::=  LDAPSigType

      LDAPSigType ::= BOOLEAN

      SignedResult ::= CHOICE {
           signature     OCTET STRING }


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RFC 2649                LDAP Control and Schema              August 1999

   If any of the controls in this specification are supported by an LDAP
   v3 server then that server MUST make available its certificate (if
   any) in the userCertificate attribute of its rootDSE object.  The
   UserCertificate attribute is defined in [6], and contains the public
   key of the server that is used in the creation of the various
   signatures defined in this specification.

   It is not the intention of this specification to provide a mechanism
   that guarantees the origin and integrity of LDAP v3 operations.  Such
   a service is best provided by the use of an underlying protocol such
   as TLS [8].  TLS defines additional features such as encryption and
   compression.  This specification does not define support for
   encrypted operations.

   This memo proposes protocol elements for transmission and storage of
   the digital signatures of LDAP operations.  Though the LDAP server
   may have verified the operation signatures prior to their storage and
   subsequent retrieval, it is prudent for LDAP clients to verify the
   signatures contained in the chained attribute upon their retrieval.
   The issuing Certification Authorities of the signer's certificate
   should also be consulted in order to determine if the signer's
   private key has been compromised or the certificate has been
   otherwise revoked.  Security considerations are discussed throughout
   this memo.

4.  References

   [1] Kaliski, B., "PKCS 7: Cryptographic Message Syntax Version 1-5",
       RFC 2315, March 1998.

   [2] Dusse, S., Hoffman, P., Ramsdell, B., Lundblade, L. and L.
       Repka., "S/MIME Version 2 Message Specification", RFC 2311, March

   [3] Galvin, J., Murphy, S., Crocker, S. and N. Freed, "Security
       Multiparts for MIME: Multipart/Signed and Multipart/Encrypted",
       RFC 1847, October 1995.

   [4] Wahl, M., Howes, T. and S. Kille, "Lightweight Directory Access
       Protocol (v3)", RFC 2251, December 1997.

   [5] Howes, T., Smith, M. and F. Dawson, "A MIME Content-Type for
       Directory Information", RFC 2425, September 1998.

   [6] Wahl, M., "A Summary of the X.500(96) User Schema for use with
       LDAPv3", RFC 2256, December 1997.

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RFC 2649                LDAP Control and Schema              August 1999

   [7] Howes, T. and M. Smith, "The LDAP URL Format", RFC 2255, December

   [8] Dierks, T. and C. Allen, "The TLS Protocol Version 1.0", RFC
       2246, January 1999.

5.  Authors' Addresses

   Bruce Greenblatt
   San Jose, CA 95119

   Phone: +1-408-224-5349
   EMail: bgreenblatt@directory-applications.com

   Pat Richard
   Xcert Software, Inc.
   Suite 1001 - 701 W. Georgia
   Vancouver, BC

   EMail: patr@xcert.com

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RFC 2649                LDAP Control and Schema              August 1999

6.  Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1999).  All Rights Reserved.

   This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
   others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it
   or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
   and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any
   kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
   included on all such copies and derivative works.  However, this
   document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
   the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
   Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of
   developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for
   copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be
   followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than

   The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
   revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.

   This document and the information contained herein is provided on an


   Funding for the RFC Editor function is currently provided by the
   Internet Society.

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©2018 Martin Webb