The Jabber community has long acknowledged the need for privacy and security features in a well-rounded instant messaging system. Unfortunately, finding a consensus solution to the problem of end-to-end encryption during the community's younger days was not easy. Eventually, early contributors created a quick solution using OpenPGP (RFC 4880 ). This specification documents the OpenPGP solution as it is used today, so that others may interoperate with clients that support it. This document is not intended to present a standard, because more complete solutions are being investigated.
All operations described here are done with standard OpenPGP software such as GnuPG. All program output is US-ASCII armored output with the headers removed. This allows for easy transportation of the program output directly in the XML. All keys are exchanged using OpenPGP key servers, and usually are retrieved when a signed <presence/> stanza is received (key retrieval does not happen in-band).
Signing enables a sender to verify that they sent a certain block of text. In Jabber, signing uses the 'jabber:x:signed' namespace, and is primarily used with <presence/>, but may also be used with <message/>. The text that is signed MAY be the empty string. When signing presence, the sender SHOULD sign the XML character data of the <status> element. The sender SHOULD sign presence using the private key whose KeyID corresponds to the public key to be used in encrypting messages (see below).
Encryption enables the sender to encrypt a message to a specific recipient. This is accomplished using the 'jabber:x:encrypted' namespace in conjunction with <message/> stanzas. Because a block of text is necessary in order to have something to encrypt, <message/> stanzas intended to be encrypted have the same restrictions as signing (see above). The data encrypted MUST be the XML character data of the <body> element. The sender SHOULD encrypt the message body using the public key whose KeyID corresponds to the private key used in signing presence (see above).
It is considered polite to include an unencrypted message <body/> explaining that the actual message body is encrypted. This helps if the client experiences an error while decrypting the message, or if the user's a client that does not support encryption (although generally this should not happen, since the signed presence can be used to indicate that a client accepts encrypted messages).
The method defined herein has the following security issues:
In addition to the security considerations listed above, there are several other known issues with this method:
This document requires no interaction with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) .
The XMPP Registrar  shall register the 'jabber:x:encrypted' and 'jabber:x:signed' namespaces as a result of this document.
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This XMPP Extension Protocol is copyright © 1999 – 2020 by the XMPP Standards Foundation (XSF).
Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this specification (the "Specification"), to make use of the Specification without restriction, including without limitation the rights to implement the Specification in a software program, deploy the Specification in a network service, and copy, modify, merge, publish, translate, distribute, sublicense, or sell copies of the Specification, and to permit persons to whom the Specification is furnished to do so, subject to the condition that the foregoing copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Specification. Unless separate permission is granted, modified works that are redistributed shall not contain misleading information regarding the authors, title, number, or publisher of the Specification, and shall not claim endorsement of the modified works by the authors, any organization or project to which the authors belong, or the XMPP Standards Foundation.
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This XMPP Extension Protocol has been contributed in full conformance with the XSF's Intellectual Property Rights Policy (a copy of which can be found at <https://xmpp.org/about/xsf/ipr-policy> or obtained by writing to XMPP Standards Foundation, P.O. Box 787, Parker, CO 80134 USA).
The Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) is defined in the XMPP Core (RFC 6120) and XMPP IM (RFC 6121) specifications contributed by the XMPP Standards Foundation to the Internet Standards Process, which is managed by the Internet Engineering Task Force in accordance with RFC 2026. Any protocol defined in this document has been developed outside the Internet Standards Process and is to be understood as an extension to XMPP rather than as an evolution, development, or modification of XMPP itself.
The primary venue for discussion of XMPP Extension Protocols is the <firstname.lastname@example.org> discussion list.
Discussion on other xmpp.org discussion lists might also be appropriate; see <http://xmpp.org/about/discuss.shtml> for a complete list.
Given that this XMPP Extension Protocol normatively references IETF technologies, discussion on the <email@example.com> list might also be appropriate.
Errata can be sent to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
The following requirements keywords as used in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119: "MUST", "SHALL", "REQUIRED"; "MUST NOT", "SHALL NOT"; "SHOULD", "RECOMMENDED"; "SHOULD NOT", "NOT RECOMMENDED"; "MAY", "OPTIONAL".
2. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is the central coordinator for the assignment of unique parameter values for Internet protocols, such as port numbers and URI schemes. For further information, see <http://www.iana.org/>.
3. The XMPP Registrar maintains a list of reserved protocol namespaces as well as registries of parameters used in the context of XMPP extension protocols approved by the XMPP Standards Foundation. For further information, see <https://xmpp.org/registrar/>.
Note: Older versions of this specification might be available at http://xmpp.org/extensions/attic/