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Access Control: What's On The Wire

From: Fisher Mark <FisherM@exch1.indy.tce.com>
Date: Wed, 28 May 1997 15:39:17 -0500
Message-ID: <c=US%a=_%p=THOMSON%l=TCEIS5-970528203917Z-6797@tceis5.indy.tce.com>
To: "'w3c-dist-auth'" <w3c-dist-auth@w3.org>
The big question to me in WebDAV access control is, "What should go over
the wire?".  I see 3 things that go from the client to server:
	1) An HTTP method;
	2) Credentials identifying the client; and
	3) One (or more) URIs identifying the resource.
The server then responds with a status code, along with a Reason-Phrase.

Now, credentials can be several things.  The simplest non-null case is a
single ID.  If you are in a relatively high-trust situation (like inside
a company Intranet), merely tracking the author by ID may be sufficient.
 Or, for somewhat greater security, a one-time ID (like a SecurID
without the PIN), may be adequate in some cases.  UserID/passwords are
quite commonly used in multiuser OSes, while X509 certificates and
signed PGP messages both have their advocates.  What goes over the wire
from the client to server, however, are HTTP-method + credentials +

Since WebDAV is an extension for HTTP, any credential-sending mechanism
(authentication method) considered by this group should be via HTTP.
This is not to preclude other authentication methods (CORBA, Kerberos,
etc.) being used, it is just to say that non-HTTP methods are likely out
of this group's scope.  This is also not to say that adding
authentication mechanisms to HTTP should not be considered, as work done
on additional authentication mechanisms would benefit Web users as a

To make a long story short (too late! :( ), what WebDAV access control
needs to be concerned with are the HTTP authentication methods to
support, the HTTP methods needed for WebDAV, and the HTTP status
responses.  Although there will be clients and servers that use DCE,
NTLM/CIFS, etc. for access control, since they are not using HTTP, IMHO
we should not be spending our time on this mailing list considering
these options.
Mark Leighton Fisher          Thomson Consumer Electronics
fisherm@indy.tce.com          Indianapolis, IN
"ViaCrypt?  Vhy not!"
Received on Wednesday, 28 May 1997 16:41:10 UTC

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