Internet-Draft OAuth DPoP March 2020
Fett, et al. Expires 5 September 2020 [Page]
Web Authorization Protocol
Intended Status:
Standards Track
D. Fett
B. Campbell
Ping Identity
J. Bradley
T. Lodderstedt
M. Jones
D. Waite
Ping Identity

OAuth 2.0 Demonstration of Proof-of-Possession at the Application Layer (DPoP)


This document describes a mechanism for sender-constraining OAuth 2.0 tokens via a proof-of-possession mechanism on the application level. This mechanism allows for the detection of replay attacks with access and refresh tokens.

Status of This Memo

This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Note that other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts. The list of current Internet-Drafts is at

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This Internet-Draft will expire on 5 September 2020.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

[RFC8705] describes methods to bind (sender-constrain) access tokens using mutual Transport Layer Security (TLS) authentication with X.509 certificates.

[I-D.ietf-oauth-token-binding] provides mechanisms to sender-constrain access tokens using HTTP token binding.

Due to a sub-par user experience of TLS client authentication in user agents and a lack of support for HTTP token binding, neither mechanism can be used if an OAuth client is a Single Page Application (SPA) running in a web browser.

This document outlines an application-level sender-constraining for access and refresh tokens that can be used in cases where neither mTLS nor OAuth Token Binding are available. It uses proof-of-possession based on a public/private key pair and application-level signing.

DPoP can be used with public clients and, in case of confidential clients, can be combined with any client authentication method.

1.1. Conventions and Terminology

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all capitals, as shown here.

This specification uses the terms "access token", "refresh token", "authorization server", "resource server", "authorization endpoint", "authorization request", "authorization response", "token endpoint", "grant type", "access token request", "access token response", and "client" defined by The OAuth 2.0 Authorization Framework [RFC6749].

2. Main Objective

Under the attacker model defined in [I-D.ietf-oauth-security-topics], the mechanism defined by this specification aims to prevent token replay at a different endpoint.

More precisely, if an adversary is able to get hold of an access token or refresh token because it set up a counterfeit authorization server or resource server, the adversary is not able to replay the respective token at another authorization or resource server.

Secondary objectives are discussed in Section 9.

3. Concept

The main data structure introduced by this specification is a DPoP proof JWT, described in detail below. A client uses a DPoP proof JWT to prove the possession of a private key belonging to a certain public key. Roughly speaking, a DPoP proof is a signature over some data of the HTTP request to which it is attached to and a timestamp.

+--------+                                          +---------------+
|        |--(A)-- Token Request ------------------->|               |
| Client |        (DPoP Proof)                      | Authorization |
|        |                                          |     Server    |
|        |<-(B)-- DPoP-bound Access Token ----------|               |
|        |        (token_type=DPoP)                 +---------------+
|        |        PoP Refresh Token for public clients
|        |
|        |                                          +---------------+
|        |--(C)-- DPoP-bound Access Token --------->|               |
|        |        (DPoP Proof)                      |    Resource   |
|        |                                          |     Server    |
|        |<-(D)-- Protected Resource ---------------|               |
|        |                                          +---------------+
Figure 1

Figure 1: Basic DPoP Flow

The basic steps of an OAuth flow with DPoP are shown in Figure 1:

The mechanism presented herein is not a client authentication method. In fact, a primary use case is public clients (single page applications) that do not use client authentication. Nonetheless, DPoP is designed such that it is compatible with private_key_jwt and all other client authentication methods.

DPoP does not directly ensure message integrity but relies on the TLS layer for that purpose. See Section 9 for details.

4. DPoP Proof JWTs

DPoP uses so-called DPoP proof JWTs for binding public keys and proving knowledge about private keys.

4.1. Syntax

A DPoP proof is a JWT ([RFC7519]) that is signed (using JWS, [RFC7515]) using a private key chosen by the client (see below). The header of a DPoP JWT contains at least the following parameters:

  • typ: type header, value dpop+jwt (REQUIRED).
  • alg: a digital signature algorithm identifier as per [RFC7518] (REQUIRED). MUST NOT be none or an identifier for a symmetric algorithm (MAC).
  • jwk: representing the public key chosen by the client, in JWK format, as defined in [RFC7515] (REQUIRED)

The body of a DPoP proof contains at least the following claims:

  • jti: Unique identifier for the DPoP proof JWT (REQUIRED). The value MUST be assigned such that there is a negligible probability that the same value will be assigned to any other DPoP proof used in the same context during the time window of validity. Such uniqueness can be accomplished by encoding (base64url or any other suitable encoding) at least 96 bits of pseudorandom data or by using a version 4 UUID string according to [RFC4122]. The jti SHOULD be used by the server for replay detection and prevention, see Section 9.1.
  • htm: The HTTP method for the request to which the JWT is attached, as defined in [RFC7231] (REQUIRED).
  • htu: The HTTP URI used for the request, without query and fragment parts (REQUIRED).
  • iat: Time at which the JWT was created (REQUIRED).

Figure 2 shows the JSON header and payload of a DPoP proof JWT.

  "jwk": {
Figure 2

Figure 2: Example JWT content for DPoP proof header.

Note: To keep DPoP simple to implement, only the HTTP method and URI are signed in DPoP proofs. Nonetheless, DPoP proofs can be extended to contain other information of the HTTP request (see also Section 9.4).

4.2. Checking DPoP Proofs

To check if a string that was received as part of an HTTP Request is a valid DPoP proof, the receiving server MUST ensure that

  1. the string value is a well-formed JWT,
  2. all required claims are contained in the JWT,
  3. the typ field in the header has the value dpop+jwt,
  4. the algorithm in the header of the JWT indicates an asymmetric digital signature algorithm, is not none, is supported by the application, and is deemed secure,
  5. that the JWT is signed using the public key contained in the jwk header of the JWT,
  6. the htm claim matches the HTTP method value of the HTTP request in which the JWT was received (case-insensitive),
  7. the htu claims matches the HTTP URI value for the HTTP request in which the JWT was received, ignoring any query and fragment parts,
  8. the token was issued within an acceptable timeframe (see Section 9.1), and
  9. that, within a reasonable consideration of accuracy and resource utilization, a JWT with the same jti value has not been received previously (see Section 9.1).

Servers SHOULD employ Syntax-Based Normalization and Scheme-Based Normalization in accordance with Section 6.2.2. and Section 6.2.3. of [RFC3986] before comparing the htu claim.

5. Token Request (Binding Tokens to a Public Key)

To bind a token to a public key in the token request, the client MUST provide a valid DPoP proof JWT in a DPoP header. The HTTPS request shown in Figure 3 illustrates the protocol for this (with extra line breaks for display purposes only).

POST /token HTTP/1.1
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded;charset=UTF-8
DPoP: eyJ0eXAiOiJkcG9wK2p3dCIsImFsZyI6IkVTMjU2IiwiandrIjp7Imt0eSI6Ik
Figure 3

Figure 3: Token Request for a DPoP sender-constrained token.

The HTTP header DPoP MUST contain a valid DPoP proof.

The authorization server, after checking the validity of the DPoP proof, MUST associate the access token issued at the token endpoint with the public key. It then sets token_type to DPoP in the token response.

A client typically cannot know whether a certain AS supports DPoP. It therefore SHOULD use the value of the token_type parameter returned from the AS to determine support for DPoP: If the token type returned is Bearer or another value, the AS does not support DPoP. If it is DPoP, DPoP is supported. Only then, the client needs to send the DPoP header in subsequent requests and use the token type DPoP in the Authorization header as described below.

If a refresh token is issued to a public client at the token endpoint and a valid DPoP proof is presented, the refresh token MUST be bound to the public key contained in the header of the DPoP proof JWT.

If a DPoP-bound refresh token is to be used at the token endpoint by a public client, the AS MUST ensure that the DPoP proof contains the same public key as the one the refresh token is bound to. The access token issued MUST be bound to the public key contained in the DPoP proof.

6. Resource Access (Proof of Possession for Access Tokens)

To make use of an access token that is token-bound to a public key using DPoP, a client MUST prove the possession of the corresponding private key by providing a DPoP proof in the DPoP request header.

The DPoP-bound access token must be sent in the Authorization header with the prefix DPoP.

If a resource server detects that an access token that is to be used for resource access is bound to a public key using DPoP (via the methods described in Section 7) it MUST check that a header DPoP was received in the HTTP request, and check the header's contents according to the rules in Section 4.2.

The resource server MUST NOT grant access to the resource unless all checks are successful.

GET /protectedresource HTTP/1.1
Authorization: DPoP eyJhbGciOiJFUzI1NiIsImtpZCI6IkJlQUxrYiJ9.eyJzdWI
DPoP: eyJ0eXAiOiJkcG9wK2p3dCIsImFsZyI6IkVTMjU2IiwiandrIjp7Imt0eSI6Ik
Figure 4

Figure 4: Protected Resource Request with a DPoP sender-constrained access token.

7. Public Key Confirmation

It MUST be ensured that resource servers can reliably identify whether a token is bound using DPoP and learn the public key to which the token is bound.

Access tokens that are represented as JSON Web Tokens (JWT) [RFC7519] MUST contain information about the DPoP public key (in JWK format) in the member jkt of the cnf claim, as shown in Figure 5.

The value in jkt MUST be the base64url encoding [RFC7515] of the JWK SHA-256 Thumbprint (according to [RFC7638]) of the public key to which the access token is bound.

Figure 5

Figure 5: Example access token body with cnf claim.

When access token introspection is used, the same cnf claim as above MUST be contained in the introspection response.

Resource servers MUST ensure that the fingerprint of the public key in the DPoP proof JWT equals the value in the jkt claim in the access token or introspection response.

8. Acknowledgements

We would like to thank David Waite, Filip Skokan, Mike Engan, and Justin Richer for their valuable input and feedback.

This document resulted from discussions at the 4th OAuth Security Workshop in Stuttgart, Germany. We thank the organizers of this workshop (Ralf Kusters, Guido Schmitz).

9. Security Considerations

In DPoP, the prevention of token replay at a different endpoint (see Section 2) is achieved through the binding of the DPoP proof to a certain URI and HTTP method. DPoP does not, however, achieve the same level of protection as TLS-based methods such as OAuth Mutual TLS [RFC8705] or OAuth Token Binding [I-D.ietf-oauth-token-binding] (see also Section 9.1 and Section 9.4). TLS-based mechanisms can leverage a tight integration between the TLS layer and the application layer to achieve a very high level of message integrity and replay protection. Therefore, it is RECOMMENDED to prefer TLS-based methods over DPoP if such methods are suitable for the scenario at hand.

9.1. DPoP Proof Replay

If an adversary is able to get hold of a DPoP proof JWT, the adversary could replay that token at the same endpoint (the HTTP endpoint and method are enforced via the respective claims in the JWTs). To prevent this, servers MUST only accept DPoP proofs for a limited time window after their iat time, preferably only for a relatively brief period. Servers SHOULD store the jti value of each DPoP proof for the time window in which the respective DPoP proof JWT would be accepted and decline HTTP requests for which the jti value has been seen before. In order to guard against memory exhaustion attacks a server SHOULD reject DPoP proof JWTs with unnecessarily large jti values or store only a hash thereof.

Note: To accommodate for clock offsets, the server MAY accept DPoP proofs that carry an iat time in the near future (e.g., up to a few seconds in the future).

9.2. Signed JWT Swapping

Servers accepting signed DPoP proof JWTs MUST check the typ field in the headers of the JWTs to ensure that adversaries cannot use JWTs created for other purposes in the DPoP headers.

9.3. Signature Algorithms

Implementers MUST ensure that only asymmetric digital signature algorithms that are deemed secure can be used for signing DPoP proofs. In particular, the algorithm none MUST NOT be allowed.

9.4. Message Integrity

DPoP does not ensure the integrity of the payload or headers of requests. The signature of DPoP proofs only contains the HTTP URI and method, but not, for example, the message body or other request headers.

This is an intentional design decision to keep DPoP simple to use, but as described, makes DPoP potentially susceptible to replay attacks where an attacker is able to modify message contents and headers. In many setups, the message integrity and confidentiality provided by TLS is sufficient to provide a good level of protection.

Implementers that have stronger requirements on the integrity of messages are encouraged to either use TLS-based mechanisms or signed requests. TLS-based mechanisms are in particular OAuth Mutual TLS [RFC8705] and OAuth Token Binding [I-D.ietf-oauth-token-binding].

Note: While signatures on (parts of) requests are out of the scope of this specification, signatures or information to be signed can be added into DPoP proofs.

10. IANA Considerations

10.1. OAuth Access Token Type Registration

This specification registers the following access token type in the OAuth Access Token Types registry defined in [RFC6749].

  • Type name: "DPoP"
  • Additional Token Endpoint Response Parameters: (none)
  • HTTP Authentication Scheme(s): Bearer
  • Change controller: IETF
  • Specification document(s): [[ this specification ]]

10.2. JSON Web Signature and Encryption Type Values Registration

This specification registers the dpop+jwt type value in the IANA JSON Web Signature and Encryption Type Values registry [RFC7515]:

  • "typ" Header Parameter Value: "dpop+jwt"
  • Abbreviation for MIME Type: None
  • Change Controller: IETF
  • Specification Document(s): [[ this specification ]]

11. Normative References

Hardt, D., Ed., "The OAuth 2.0 Authorization Framework", RFC 6749, DOI 10.17487/RFC6749, , <>.
Jones, M., Bradley, J., and N. Sakimura, "JSON Web Token (JWT)", RFC 7519, DOI 10.17487/RFC7519, , <>.
Jones, M. and N. Sakimura, "JSON Web Key (JWK) Thumbprint", RFC 7638, DOI 10.17487/RFC7638, , <>.
Jones, M., "JSON Web Algorithms (JWA)", RFC 7518, DOI 10.17487/RFC7518, , <>.
Fielding, R., Ed. and J. Reschke, Ed., "Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP/1.1): Semantics and Content", RFC 7231, DOI 10.17487/RFC7231, , <>.
Berners-Lee, T., Fielding, R., and L. Masinter, "Uniform Resource Identifier (URI): Generic Syntax", STD 66, RFC 3986, DOI 10.17487/RFC3986, , <>.

12. Informative References

Jones, M., Campbell, B., Bradley, J., and W. Denniss, "OAuth 2.0 Token Binding", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-ietf-oauth-token-binding-08, , <>.
Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC 2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174, , <>.
Jones, M., Bradley, J., and N. Sakimura, "JSON Web Signature (JWS)", RFC 7515, DOI 10.17487/RFC7515, , <>.
Leach, P., Mealling, M., and R. Salz, "A Universally Unique IDentifier (UUID) URN Namespace", RFC 4122, DOI 10.17487/RFC4122, , <>.
Campbell, B., Bradley, J., Sakimura, N., and T. Lodderstedt, "OAuth 2.0 Mutual-TLS Client Authentication and Certificate-Bound Access Tokens", RFC 8705, DOI 10.17487/RFC8705, , <>.
Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, , <>.
Lodderstedt, T., Bradley, J., Labunets, A., and D. Fett, "OAuth 2.0 Security Best Current Practice", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-ietf-oauth-security-topics-14, , <>.

Appendix A. Document History

[[ To be removed from the final specification ]]






Authors' Addresses

Daniel Fett
Brian Campbell
Ping Identity
John Bradley
Torsten Lodderstedt
Michael Jones
David Waite
Ping Identity