SUIT B. Moran
Internet-Draft H. Tschofenig
Intended status: Standards Track Arm Limited
Expires: January 3, 2019 July 02, 2018

A CBOR-based Manifest Serialisation Format


This specification describes the serialization format of a manifest.

A manifest is a bundle of metadata about the firmware for an IoT device, where to find the firmware, the devices to which it applies, and cryptographic information protecting the manifest.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction

A firmware update mechanism is an essential security feature for IoT devices to deal with vulnerabilities. While the transport of firmware images to the devices themselves is important there are already various techniques available. Equally important is the inclusion of meta-data about the conveyed firmware image (in the form of a manifest) and the use of end-to-end security protection to detect modifications and (optionally) to make reverse engineering more difficult. End-to-end security allows the author, who builds the firmware image, to be sure that no other party (including potential adversaries) is able to install firmware updates on IoT devices without adequate privileges. This authorization process is ensured by the use of dedicated credentials and authorization permissions installed on the IoT device.

This document is part of larger document set: the architecture document can be found in [I-D.ietf-suit-architecture] and the information model of the manifest is described in [I-D.ietf-suit-information-model]. This document focuses on the serialization format.

2. 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 RFC 2119 [RFC2119].

2.1. Manifest Serialization Format

The following CDDL fragment defines the manifest.

Wherever enumerations are used, they are started at 1. This allows detection of several common software errors that are caused by uninitialised variables.

The processing graph is a mechanism that maps from resources to installed firmware. On one side of the graph are the resources. These are the raw content that a device acquires. Resources can be remote (for example, on a server) or local (for example, an already installed firmware). On the other side of the graph are targets. These are the locations that firmware is installed to. In between these two sides are processors. These are the steps that a device takes to translate raw content into firmware that is installed. In the simplest case, this is a direct mapping; the resource is installed into the target directly. In an example complex case, a device must use decryption, decompression, and differential patching to create the final resource. Differential patching requires that the device refer to an already-installed firmware. In this graph, there are two resources, three processors, and one target. In some cases, one resource may be used by multiple processors, such as a compression table. The nodes of the graph are the resources before or after transformation by a processor and the edges of the graph are the processors themselves.

Resources, processors and targets are marked with node identifiers. Resources have an output node. Targets have an input node. Processors have both.

AuthenticatedManifest = [
    authenticatedManifest: COSE_Mac / COSE_Sign,
    text: bstr .cbor textMap
COSE_Mac = any
COSE_Sign = any

textKeys = (
    uninitialised: 0 /
    manifestDescription: 1 /
    payloadDescription: 2 /
    vendorName: 3 /
    modelName: 4 /
    payloadVersion: 5

textMap = { * textKeys / nint => tstr }

Manifest = [
    manifestVersion :    1,
    digestInfo :         DigestInfo,

    ; textReference is the digest of the associated 
    ; text map in AuthenticatedManifest
    textReference :      bstr, 
    nonce :              bstr,
    sequence :           SequenceNumber,
    preConditions :      [ * PreCondition ],
    postConditions :     [ * PostCondition ],
    directives :         [ * Directive ],
    resources :          [ * ResourceInfo ],
    processors :         [ * ProcessingStep ],
    targets :            [ * TargetInfo ],
    extensions :         { * int => bstr}

ResourceInfo = [
    type:              payload:1 / dependency:2 / key:3 / alias:4
    indicator:         UriList,     ; where to find the resource
    size:              uint / nil,  ; size of the resource 
                                    ; (nil when alias)
    digest:            bstr,        ; digest of the resource
    onode             bstr          ; Node of the processing 
                                    ; graph that the resource feeds

Processor       = [
    decrypt: 1 / decompress: 2 / undiff: 3 / 
    relocate: 4 / unrelocate: 5,
    parameters: bstr ; TBD: more detail needed
    inode: bstr,     ; Node of the processing graph 
                     ; that this processor consumes
    onode: bstr      ; Node of the processing graph 
                     ; that this processor feeds
Target = [
    componentIdentifier: [ * bstr],
    storageIdentifier:   tstr,        ; where to store the resource
    encoding:            bstr / nil,  ; the format of the resource 
                                      ; (nil when alias)
    inode:               bstr         ; Node of the processing graph 
                                      ; that this target consumes

PreCondition    = IdCondition / TimeCondition / 
                  ImageCondition / CustomCondition
PostCondition   = ImageCondition / CustomCondition
IdCondition     = [vendor: 1 / class: 2 / device: 3, 
                   id:         Uuid]
TimeCondition   = [installAfter: 4 / bestBefore: 5,
                  time:       Timestamp]
ImageCondition  = [currentContent: 6 / notCurrentContent: 7, 
                  digest:     bstr / nil, location: StorageIdentifier]
CustomCondition = [nint, parameters: bstr]
Directive       = [ int => bstr ]

SequenceNumber      = uint
Timestamp           = uint .size 8
Uuid                = bstr .size 16
StorageIdentifier   = bstr
ComponentIdentifier = bstr
UriList             = { + int => tstr }
DigestInfo          = [
    digestAlgorithm  : uint,
    ? digestParameters : bstr

3. IANA Considerations

TBD: Several registries will be required for: * Standard Conditions * Standard Directives * Standard Processors * Standard text values

4. Security Considerations

This document is about a manifest format describing and protecting firmware images and as such it is part of a larger solution for offering a standardized way of delivering firmware updates to IoT devices. A more detailed discussion about security can be found in the architecture document [I-D.ietf-suit-architecture] and in the information model document [I-D.ietf-suit-information-model].

5. Mailing List Information

The discussion list for this document is located at the e-mail address Information on the group and information on how to subscribe to the list is at

Archives of the list can be found at:

6. Acknowledgements

We would like the following persons for their support in designing this mechanism

7. Normative References

[I-D.ietf-suit-architecture] Moran, B., Meriac, M., Tschofenig, H. and D. Brown, "A Firmware Update Architecture for Internet of Things Devices", Internet-Draft draft-ietf-suit-architecture-01, July 2018.
[I-D.ietf-suit-information-model] Moran, B., Tschofenig, H., Birkholz, H. and J. Jimenez, "Firmware Updates for Internet of Things Devices - An Information Model for Manifests", Internet-Draft draft-ietf-suit-information-model-00, June 2018.
[RFC2119] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997.

Authors' Addresses

Brendan Moran Arm Limited EMail:
Hannes Tschofenig Arm Limited EMail: