IETF Forms S/MIME Working Group

Secure Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extensions, or S/MIME, gained momentum as a standard for secure e-mail as RSA re-submitted it to the IETF on 3 November, and the IETF formed an S/MIME working group chaired by Russ Housley on 7 November. From the charter:

The S/MIME Working Group will define MIME encapsulation of digitally signed and encrypted objects whose format is based on PKCS #7. [1] X.509 Certificates and CRLs as profiled by the existing PKIX Working Group will be used to support authentication and key management. The Working Group will base its work on the S/MIME version 2 specification (available from RSA Data Security), but the Working Group will be free to change any part of that specification. In particular, the Working Group will prepare a new document that allows algorithm independence, based on PKCS #7 1.5.

The creation of the working group followed RSA's agreement to renounce its rights to ownership of the technology and trademark, according to an article by Elinor Mills of the IDG News Service published in Network World Fusion. RSA also announced a new consortium of 12 manufacturers, resellers, and distributors in Japan, as well as an effort to merge S/MIME with the Message Security Protocol (MSP) developed by the U.S. Dept. of Defense.

The IETF's working group on Open PGP, co-chaired by John Noerenberg and Charles Breed, which is to develop a MIME framework for exchanging "PGP-processed objects" via e-mail and other transport protocols intends to continue its efforts.

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