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Secure XML: The New Syntax for Signatures and Encryption

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Secure XML: The New Syntax for Signatures and Encryption


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  • Copyright 2003
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-201-75605-6
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-201-75605-0

Extensible Markup Language (XML) is the environment of choice for creating many of today's technologically sophisticated and security-sensitive Web applications. With Secure XML, developers now have the hands-on guide they need to combine a strong foundation in XML with proven, practical techniques for enabling the secure transmission of data across the Web.

Broad-based and comprehensive, Secure XML fully documents every feature and issue involved with XML security. Opening with a complete introduction to XML, the book then provides detailed coverage of authentication, canonicalization, keying, encryption, algorithms, and more. Notes, background information, guidelines, and "soapbox," or heretical comments, expand on the book's practical focus throughout. In all, this book features the most comprehensive roadmap to digital security and XML encryption available.

Topics covered in-depth include:

  • XML basics—documents, namespaces, structures, DTDs and schemas, and stylesheets
  • XPath, XPointer, and SOAP
  • Digital cryptography basics--secret and public key ciphers, asymmetric keys, digital signatures, and certificates
  • XML canonicalization, signatures, and authentication
  • XML encryption
  • Key management and combining encryption with signatures
  • Cryptographic algorithms and noncryptographic algorithms

Detailed and practical, this book provides reliable solutions for securing XML and for safeguarding information flow across today's sophisticated Web.


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Table of Contents





1. XML and Security.


Origins of XML.

XML Goals.

Advantages and Disadvantages of XML.

Uses of XML.

The Need for Secure XML.

Status of XML Security Standardization.

Work in Progress.

2. Digital Cryptography Basics.

Message Digests.

Message Authentication Codes.

Secret or Symmetric Key Ciphers.

Public or Asymmetric Key Ciphers.

Asymmetric Keys and Authentication.

Digital Signatures.


Enveloped Encryption.



Other Facets of Security.

Cryptography: A Subtle Art.


3. The Extensible Markup Language.

Related Standards and Recommendations.

XML Documents.

XML Parsing Process.

Well-Formed Documents.

Valid XML Documents.

XML Document Structure.

XML Document Logical Structure.

The XML Declaration.



Special Attributes xml:space and xml:lang.

CDATA Sections.


Character Sets and Encoding.

Processing Instructions.

XML Namespaces.

Namespace Declarations.

Using Qualified Names.

Namespace Guidelines.

XML Document Physical Structure.

General and Parameter Entities.

Internal and External Entities.

Entity References.

XML and Stylesheets.

Cascading Style Sheets.

Extensible Stylesheet Language.

XSL Versus CSS.

4. XML Document Type Definitions.

Introduction to DTDs.

Document Type Declarations.

Document Type Declaration Format.

Document Type Declaration Guidelines.

Conditional Sections.

Element Type Declarations.

Element Structures.

Element Content Models.

Frequency Indicators.

Multiple Elements Within an Element.

General Guidelines for Element Type Declarations.

Defining Attributes in DTDs.

Attribute Types.

Attribute Defaults.

Entity Reference Declarations.

Internal General Entity Reference Declarations.

Parameter Entity Reference Declarations.

Notation Declarations.

5. XML Schema.





Elements and Attributes.


Miscellaneous Aspects of Schemas.

Parts Not Covered.

6. XPath: A Basic Building Block.

Introduction to XPath.

Data Model.

Root Nodes.

Element Nodes.

Attribute Nodes.

Namespace Nodes.

Text Nodes.

Processing Instruction Nodes.

Comment Nodes.

Location Paths.

Location Steps.


Node Tests.


Abbreviated Notation.


Function Calls.


Function Library.

Node-Set Functions.

String Functions.

Boolean Functions.

Number Functions. 7. URIs, xml:base, and XPointer.


URI Syntax.

Relative URIs.

URI References and Fragment Specifiers.

URI Encoding.



Forms of XPointer.

The XPath Extensions.

XPointer Functions.

8. SOAP.

Introduction to SOAP.

Features Included and Excluded.

Relation of SOAP to XML.

Basic SOAP Namespaces.

SOAP Envelope, Message Exchange, and Processing Model.

SOAP Messages.

SOAP Actors.

SOAP Processing.

SOAP Faults.

SOAP Envelope and Fault Schemas.

SOAP Encoding.

The encodingStyle Attribute.

The http://www.w3.org/2001/12/soap-encoding Encoding.

SOAP Transport Binding and HTTP.

Transport Message Exchange Patterns.

The SOAP HTTP Binding.

SOAP Remote Procedure Call.

SOAP HTTP Remote Procedure Call.

Remote Procedure Call Faults.

Remote Procedure Call Schema.

Mapping Application Parameter Names into XML.


9. XML Canonicalization: The Key to Robustness.

Canonicalization-Essential for Signatures Over XML.

Some Simple Aspects of XML Canonicalization.

The Problems with XML White Space.

The Problems with XML Namespaces.

Canonicalization Is Required for XML Data.

Canonical XML and XML Encryption.

Transformative Summary.

Input/Read Rules.

Output/Print Rules.

Inherited Attribute and Namespace Declaration Rules.

The XML Canonicalization Data Model.


Document Order.

Alphabetic Order for Namespaces and Attributes.

Formal Generative Specification.

The Root Node.

Element Nodes.

Attribute Nodes.

Namespace Nodes.

Text Nodes.

Processing Instruction Nodes.

Comment Nodes.

Limitations of XML Canonicalization.

Application Equivalences.

Character Normalization.

Operational Nonequivalence.

Exclusion/Inclusion of Ancestor Namespace Declarations and xml Namespace Attributes.

10. XML Signatures and Authentication.

Introduction to XML Digital Signatures.

XML Signature Syntax.

The Signature Element.

The SignedInfo Element.

The Reference Element.

The SignatureValue Element.

The KeyInfo Element.

The Object Element.

The Manifest Element.

The SignatureProperties Element.

Comments and Processing Instructions.

XML Signature Examples.

Simple Protocol Example.

Simple Document Example.

More Complex Protocol Example.

More Complex Form Example.

Transforms and the Use of XPath.

The “XPath” Data Model.

Dereferencing the URI.

The Data Pipeline.

Transforms Element Syntax.

Processing Rules.

Signature Generation.

Signature Verification.

Security of Signatures.


Check the Signature Security Model.

Signature Strength.

Algorithms and Executable Content Caution.

11. Profiling XMLDSIG for Applications.


Linkage of XMLDSIG to P3P Semantics.

Specific Assurance Syntax.




Processing Rules.

SOAP Signature Example.

12. ETSI “Advanced” XML Signatures.

Levels of XAdES Signature.







XAdES Signature Syntax Basics.

Qualifying and Qualifying Reference Properties.

Signed and Unsigned Properties.

Basic Elements.

XAdES Signature Elements Syntax.

The SigningTime Element.

The SigningCertificate Element.

The SignaturePolicyIdentifier Element.

The CounterSignature Element.

The DataObjectFormat Element.

The CommitmentTypeIndication Element.

The SignatureProductionPlace Element.

The SignerRole Element.

The AllDataObjectsTimeStamp and IndividualDataObjectsTimeStamp Element.

Validation Data Syntax.

The SignatureTimeStamp Element.

The CompleteCertificateRefs Element.

The CompleteRevocationRefs Element.

The SigAndRefsTimeStamp Element.

The RefsOnlyTimestamp Element.

The CertificateValues Property Element.

The RevocationValues Property Element.

The XAdESArchiveTimestamp Element.


13. The KeyInfo Element.

The KeyValue Element.

The DSAKeyValue Element.

The RSAKeyValue Element.

The DHKeyValue Element.

The EncryptedKey Element.

The RetrievalMethod Element.

The AgreementMethod Element.

The KeyName Element.

The X509Data Element.

Distinguished Name Encoding.

X509Data Syntax.

PKCS7signedData Element.

OCSP Tokens.

The PGPData Element.

The SPKIData Element.

The MgmtData Element.

14. XKMS: XML Key Management.

The Key Information Service.

X-KISS Services.

Locate Service.

Validate Service.

XKMS Common Data Elements.

The Key Registration Service.

X-KRSS Service.

X-KRSS Register Messages.

Bulk Registration Services.

XKMS Cryptographic Algorithms.

Shared Secret Data.

Registration of User-Generated Keys.

Registration of Server-Generated Keys.

Security Considerations.


15. XML Encryption.

Introduction to XML Encryption.

Why Another Encryption Syntax?

Encryption Granularity.

Enveloping and Detached Encryption.

XML Encryption Syntax.

The EncryptedType.

The CipherData Element.

The EncryptionProperties Element.

The EncryptedData Element.

The EncryptedKey Element.

The ReferenceList Element.

Extensions to the ds:KeyInfo Element.

Encryption Examples.

Encrypting XML Elements.

Encrypting XML Element Content.

Encrypting Arbitrary Data.


Referenced EncryptedKey.

Processing Flow.



XML Encryption.

Encryption Security Considerations.

Combining XMLDSIG and XML Encryption.

Information Revealed.

Care with Algorithms and Expressions.

16. Combining Encryption and Signature.

General Considerations.

Encryption of Signed Data and Signature.

Encryption of Signed Data But Not Signature.

Signing Encrypted Data.

The Decryption Transform.

Introduction to the Decryption Transform.

Decryption Transform Syntax.

Decryption Transform Processing.

Decryption Transform Limitations.

VI. ALGORITHMS 381 17. Overview of Algorithms.

Algorithm Syntax.

Algorithmic Roles.







18. Cryptographic Algorithms.

Message Digests.



Additional SHA Versions.


Key Agreement Algorithms.

Diffie-Hellman Key Agreement.

Message Authentication Codes.


Additional HMAC Variations.

Signature Algorithms.



Additional RSA Variations.

Block Encryption Algorithms.

Triple DES.


Stream Encryption Algorithms.


Key Transport Algorithms.

RSA Version 1.5.


Symmetric Key Wrap Algorithms.

CMS Key Checksum.

Triple DES Key Wrap.

AES Key Wrap.

19. Non-cryptographic Algorithms.

Canonicalization Algorithms.

Canonical XML.

Exclusive XML Canonicalization.

Minimal Canonicalization.

Transformation Algorithms.


Base-64 Decoding.

XPath Filtering.

Enveloped Signature Transform.

XSLT Transform.


XML Schema Validation.

Decryption Transform.


Appendix A XML Security Implementations.


Baltimore Technologies.


Done Information.





HP Web Services.








Phaos Technology.


RSA Security.






XML Sec.

Appendix B The W3C and W3C Documents.

Access to W3C Documents.

W3C Document Status.

W3C Document Format.

W3C Document Disclaimer.

W3C Software Disclaimer.

Appendix C The IETF and IETF Documents.

RFC Status.

Access to RFCs.

RFC Format.

Appendix D The NIST and NIST Documents.

Access to NIST FIPS Documents.

Status of NIST Documents.

Format of FIPS.

Appendix E The Paper and Protocol Points of View.

The Basic Points of View.

Questions of Meaning.

Core Meaning.

Adjunct Meaning.

Processing Models.

Amount of Processing.

Granularity of Processing.

Extensibility of Processing.

Security and Canonicalization.


Digital Authentication.

Canonicalization and Digital Authentication.


Unique Internal Labels.


Resolution of the Points of View. Appendix F SOAP Encoding Schema.

References and Acronyms.
Index. 0201756056T07152002


Secure XML explains the guts of XML Digital Signatures and XML Encryption and how you, as a designer, implementer, or evaluator of an XML application, can make use of these technologies.

The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is rapidly becoming the new standard in application level computer communications. As its use widens, mechanisms to assure that XML documents and messages are authentic and can be communicated confidentially, become essential.

Material provided in this book minimizes needed pre-requisite knowledge, although it requires general familiarity with computer concepts. For the reader not familiar with digital security or cryptology concepts, Part I includes a chapter covering these topics in the depth needed to understand the remainder of the book. For the reader not familiar with XML, Part II provides in depth coverage of XML and related standards. This XML material provides not just the background needed for the rest of this book, but sufficiently general coverage that it should be helpful in understanding most XML applications and systems. Readers with sufficient knowledge in the areas covered can skip or skim these background parts.

After the introductory and background material in Parts I and II, the topics of XML Digital Signatures, XML Encryption, and XML Canonicalization are covered in depth. This includes specific formats and examples and covers keying material, combined use of signature and encryption, algorithms, and profiling of signature use for particular applications. If your interest is only in XML Digital Signatures or XML Encryption can skip the Chapters associated with the other topic. But any non-trivial use of XML Security will require some familiarity with XML Canonicalization, keying information, and the relevant algorithms.Using this book, a skilled reader can design and implement interoperable XML based authentication and/or confidentiality mechanisms for their particular applications.

This book is firmly based on the official adopted standards of the World Wide Web Consortium, Internet Engineering Task Force, and other relevant standards bodies when available. Material going beyond that is based on the most recent drafts or informational documents available at the time of writing and the personal knowledge and experiences of the authors.

In general, areas of XML Security are presented by giving an informal syntax with a skeletal example, followed by the formal syntax and then a number of more complete examples. The material is organized so that the formal syntax and complete examples can be read in either order.

Throughout the book, notes are included that might be of interest to the reader, where the authors either have some particular knowledge of the history involved or have some heretical opinion.



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