Simple Authentication and Security Layer

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Simple Authentication and Security Layer (SASL) is a framework for authentication and data security in Internet protocols. It decouples authentication mechanisms from application protocols, in theory allowing any authentication mechanism supported by SASL to be used in any application protocol that uses SASL. Authentication mechanisms can also support proxy authorization, a facility allowing one user to assume the identity of another. Authentication mechanisms can also provide a data security layer offering data integrity and data confidentiality services. DIGEST-MD5 is an example of mechanisms which can provide a data security layer. Application protocols that support SASL typically also support Transport Layer Security (TLS) to complement the services offered by SASL.

SASL was originally specified in RFC 2222, authored by John Gardiner Myers while at Carnegie Mellon University. That document was obsoleted by RFC 4422, edited by Alexey Melnikov and Kurt Zeilenga.

SASL is an IETF Standard Track protocol, presently a Proposed Standard.


[edit] SASL mechanisms

A SASL mechanism is modelled as a series of challenges and responses. Defined SASL mechanisms [1] include:

  • "EXTERNAL", where authentication is implicit in the context (e.g., for protocols already using IPsec or TLS)
  • "ANONYMOUS", for unauthenticated guest access
  • "PLAIN", a simple cleartext password mechanism. PLAIN obsoleted the LOGIN mechanism.
  • "OTP", a one-time password mechanism. OTP obsoleted the SKEY Mechanism.
  • "SKEY", an S/KEY mechanism.
  • "CRAM-MD5", a simple challenge-response scheme based on HMAC-MD5.
  • "DIGEST-MD5", HTTP Digest compatible challenge-response scheme based upon MD5. DIGEST-MD5 offers a data security layer.
  • "NTLM", an NT LAN Manager authentication mechanism.
  • "GSSAPI", for Kerberos V5 authentication via the GSSAPI. GSSAPI offers a data security layer.
  • GateKeeper (& GateKeeperPassport), a challenge-response mechanism developed by Microsoft for MSN Chat

A family of SASL mechanisms is planned to support arbitrary GSSAPI mechanisms.

[edit] SASL-aware application protocols

Application protocols define their representation of SASL exchanges with a profile. A protocol has a service name such as "ldap" in a registry shared with GSSAPI and Kerberos [2]. Protocols currently supporting SASL include BEEP, IMAP, LDAP, IRCX, POP, SMTP, IMSP, ACAP, ManageSieve and XMPP.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

  • RFC 4422 - Simple Authentication and Security Layer (SASL) - obsoletes RFC 2222
  • RFC 4505 - Anonymous Simple Authentication and Security Layer (SASL) Mechanism - obsoletes RFC 2245
  • The IETF SASL Working Group is chartered to revise existing SASL specifications, as well as to develop a family of GSSAPI mechanisms.
  • CMU SASL Information
  • Cyrus SASL is a free and portable SASL library.
  • GNU SASL is a free and portable SASL command line utility and library, distributed under the GNU GPLv3 and LGPLv2.1, respectively.
  • Dovecot SASL is a growing SASL implementation.
  • RFC 2831 - Using Digest Authentication as a SASL Mechanism
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