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+title: Proposed Changes to IndieAuth Protocol
+published: 2015-03-04
+modified: 2015-03-06
+**Update (2015-03-06)**: Aaron Parecki replied to this proposal
+I agree with his reply as it turns out IndieAuth is also used for
+authorization in addition to authentication.
+### Introduction
+This post proposes a few minimal changes to the IndieAuth protocol as well as
+their rationale. These changes were inspired by creating an alternative but
+mostly compatible IndieAuth implementation called IndieCert, using client
+certificates to authenticate users, or actually browsers. More information
+on IndieCert can be found in this [blog](indiecert.html) post.
+#### Optional `client_id`
+Currently the protocol expects the use of the `client_id`
+parameter in the authentication request. This does not seem necessary as it
+is never used, just a remnant of OAuth 2.0. The `redirect_uri` is
+enough to establish the relying party's identity. So the proposal is to make
+`client_id` support OPTIONAL both for relying party as well as the
+IndieAuth services.
+#### CSRF protection
+It is advisable to implement CSRF protection. The `state` parameter
+can be used for that, or a new parameter, like `csrf_token`, as
+proposed by "SaferWeb: OAuth2.a or Let's Just Fix It" MUST be implemented.
+This will protect against an attacker obtaining a `code` and
+tricking the user's browser to go to the relying party's callback endpoint,
+thus gaining access to the server on the attacker's behalf and potentially
+leaking private data to the attacker's account.
+The CSRF token (or state) needs to be saved in a browser session that is
+created when the user tries to login to the relying party. The CSRF token is
+compared to the token specified on the callback URL after the user grants
+permission to the relying party to obtain the user's identity.
+#### Terminology: authentication instead of authorization
+IndieAuth is actually used for *authentication* and not
+*authorization* as is mentioned on the "Distributed IndieAuth" page.
+This should be modified to talk about authentication instead. Also the name of
+the `authorization_endpoint` should be changed to
+#### Additional "verify" endpoint
+The "auth" endpoint in IndieAuth is currently used both for initiating the
+authentication (GET) as well as verifying the authentication code (POST). In
+order to support the option to ask for user consent before the identity of the
+user is released, it makes sense to have a separate verification endpoint as
+the POST on the authentication endpoint will be used for a form submit.
+This is also relevant in the case of "Distributed IndieAuth" where the
+user mentions the `authorization_endpoint`, as a link relation on
+their home page. The proposal is to also allow for (optionally) defining a
+`verification_endpoint` link relationship on the user's homepage.
+For example:
+<link rel="authentication_endpoint" href="https://indiecert.net/auth">
+<link rel="verification_endpoint" href="https://indiecert.net/verify">
+#### Content negotiation for "verify" endpoint
+Currently the IndieAuth protocol uses a
+`application/x-www-form-urlencoded` formatted *response*
+instead of the currently more popular `application/json` response
+format, e.g. in OAuth 2.0. It is proposed to support "Content Negotiation" by
+checking the HTTP `Accept` header in the verification request and
+returning either `application/x-www-form-urlencoded` or
+`application/json` depending on the `Accept` header. The
+default can be either of those, but both MUST be supported.
+### References
+- [IndieAuth](https://indieauth.com)
+- [IndieCert](https://indiecert.net)
+- [Distributed IndieAuth](https://indiewebcamp.com/distributed-indieauth)
+- [SaferWeb: OAuth2.a or Let's Just Fix It](http://homakov.blogspot.de/2012/08/saferweb-oauth2a-or-lets-just-fix-it.html)