XMPP E2E Security

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This page aims to provide an overview, comparison and evaluation of existing and proposed end-to-end security solutions for XMPP, after providing the characteristings of the XMPP setting with regard to communication and the security of it.

Proposals

XEP-0384: OMEMO Encryption (Signal / Text Secure)

Recommendation: Implement.

OMEMO is based on the Signal double ratchet and provides forward secrecy, compatibility with history retrieval for devices that are already part of the ratchet, and a number of other benefits over legacy encryption mechanisms. It has had an independent third party audit (see related links at bottom).

XEP-0373: OpenPGP for XMPP / XEP-0374: OpenPGP for XMPP Instant Messaging

Recommendation: Exploratory implementations are encouraged.

The OpenPGP for XMPP (OX) specification currently consists of a baseline specification: XEP-0373 and a profile for Instant Messaging specification XEP-0374. It is under active development and thus subject to change although can be considered pretty stable regarding most parts.

OX attempts to fix the various security design flaws of XEP-0027, and additionally specifies features like "arbitrary extension element" verification and protection.

Implementations are available for Gajim and Smack, and have been successfully tested against each other for interoperability.

XEP-0027 (Legacy OpenPGP)

Recommendation: do not implement unless compatibility with legacy clients is required.

One of the first proposals for end-to-end security is based on PGP and described in XEP-0027.

The way XEP-0027 uses PGP, it doesn't provide protection from replay attacks. It also only encrypts messages and doesn't sign them, so they could be replaced with different correctly encrypted messages on the wire.(Source: chat in xsf@m.x.o) Thus it has been obsoleted by the XMPP Council in it's meeting on 2014-03-12.

OTR (Off-the-record Messaging)

Recommendation: do not implement unless compatibility with legacy clients is required. .

OTR is a crypto protocol, specifically designed to secure instant messaging conversations. Its usage in XMPP is documented (but not standardized) in https://xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0364.html

Comparative Overview

Proposal Security property Communication patterns Compatibility with XMPP
Authenticity Integrity Encryption Forward secrecy Malleability One-to-One Groupchat Offline messages Multiple resources Discovery of support
OMEMO (XEP-0384) Yes Except in the case of a malicious authenticated device Yes Yes By authenticated devices Yes Yes (Non-anonymous only) Yes Yes Yes
XEP-0374: OpenPGP for XMPP Instant Messaging Yes Yes Yes No N/A Yes Possible and planned, but currently unspecified Yes Yes Yes
Legacy PGP (XEP-0027) No (messages only encrypted, not signed) No Yes No N/A Yes No Yes Yes (if same keypair at all resources) No
OTR Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No

Related Documents

Discussion

If you have any questions or comments regarding this page, please join the XSF chatroom at xsf@muc.xmpp.org.

Abandoned and Legacy E2EE specifications

Those specifications are very likely not relevant any more. They are listed here only for the sake of completeness.

draft-miller-xmpp-e2e

https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/draft-miller-xmpp-e2e/

ESessions

https://xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0187.html https://xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0188.html