Network Working Group K. Toyoda
Request for Comments: 3965 H. Ohno
Obsoletes: 2305 J. Murai
Category: Standards Track WIDE Project
December 2004 A Simple Mode of Facsimile Using Internet Mail
Status of this Memo
This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
improvements. Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet
Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state
and status of this protocol. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.
Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004).
This specification provides for "simple mode" carriage of facsimile
data using Internet mail. Extensions to this document will follow.
The current specification employs standard protocols and file formats
such as TCP/IP, Internet mail protocols, Multipurpose Internet Mail
Extensions (MIME), and Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) for Facsimile.
It can send images not only to other Internet-aware facsimile devices
but also to Internet-native systems, such as PCs with common email
readers which can handle MIME mail and TIFF for Facsimile data. The
specification facilitates communication among existing facsimile
devices, Internet mail agents, and the gateways which connect them.
This document is a revision of RFC 2305. There have been no
This specification defines message-based facsimile communication over
the Internet. It describes a minimum set of capabilities, taking
into account those of typical facsimile devices and PCs that can
generate facsimile data.
A G3Fax device has substantial restrictions due to specifications in
the standards, such as for timers. This specification defines a
profile for Internet mail, rather than creating a distinct "facsimile
over the Internet" service. The semantics resulting from the profile
are designed to be compatible with facsimile operation over the
general switched telephone network, so that gateways between
facsimile and Internet mail can operate with very high fidelity.
The reason for developing this capability as an email profile is to
permit interworking amongst facsimile and email users. For example,
it is intended that existing email users be able to send normal
messages to lists of users, including facsimile-based recipients, and
that other email recipients shall be able to reply to the original
and continue to include facsimile recipients. Similarly, it is
intended that existing email software work without modification and
not be required to process new, or different data structures, beyond
what is normal for Internet mail users. Existing email service
standards are used, rather than replicating mechanisms which are more
tailored to existing facsimile standards, to ensure this
compatibility with existing email service.
A facsimile-capable device that uses T.4  and the general
switched telephone network (GSTN) is called a "G3Fax device" in this
specification. An "IFax device" is an Internet-accessible device
capable of sending, receiving or forwarding Internet faxes. A
message can be sent to an IFax device using an Internet mail
address. A message can be sent to a G3Fax device using an Internet
mail address; the message MAY be forwarded via an IFax offramp
This specification provides for communication between each of the
Internet mail => Network printer
Internet mail => Offramp gateway (forward to
Network scanner => Network printer
Network scanner => Offramp gateway (forward to
Network scanner => Internet mail
1.3. Key Words
The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
"SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this
document are to be interpreted as described in .
2. Communication Protocols
The set of conventions necessary to achieve facsimile-compatible
service covers basic data transport, document data formats, message
(document) addressing, delivery confirmation, and message security.
In this section, the first 4 are covered. The remainder are covered
in following sections, along with additional details for addressing
This section describes mechanisms involved in the transport between
Data transfer MAY be achieved using standard Internet mail transfer
mechanisms [1, 3]. The format of addresses MUST conform to the RFC
821 <addr-spec> and RFC 822 <mailbox> Internet mail standards [1, 2,
A gateway translates between dissimilar environments. For IFax, a
gateway connects between Internet mail and the T.4/GSTN facsimile.
Gateways can service multiple T.4/GSTN facsimile users or can service
only one. In the former case, they serve as a classic "mail transfer
agent" (MTA) and in the latter as a classic "mail user agent" (UA).
An onramp is a gateway which connects from T.4/GSTN facsimile to
Internet mail. An offramp is a gateway which connects from Internet
mail to T.4/GSTN facsimile. Behavior of onramps is out of scope for
This specification describes the Internet mail service portion of
offramp addressing, confirmation and failure notification. Details
are provided in later sections.
2.1.3. Mailbox protocols
An offramp gateway that operate as an MTA serving multiple users
SHOULD use SMTP; a gateway that operates as a UA serving a single
mail recipient MAY use a mailbox access protocol such as POP  or
similar mailbox access protocols.
NOTE: An offramp gateway that relays mail based on addressing
information needs to ensure that it uses addresses supplied in the
MTA envelope, rather than from elsewhere, such as addresses listed in
the message content headers.
IFax devices MUST be compliant with RFC 2822 and RFC 1123, which
define the format of mail headers. The header of an IFax message
SHOULD include Message-ID and MUST include all fields required by [2,
3], such as DATE and FROM.
IFax devices MUST be compliant with MIME , except as noted in
The data format of the facsimile image is based on the minimum set of
TIFF for Facsimile , also known as the S profile. Such facsimile
data are included in a MIME object by use of the image/TIFF sub-type
. Additional rules for the use of TIFF for Facsimile, for the
message-based Internet facsimile application, are defined later.
A single multi-page document SHOULD be sent as a single multi- page
TIFF file, even though recipients MUST process multipart/mixed
containing multiple TIFF files. If multipart content is present and
processing of any part fails, then processing for the entire message
is treated as failing, per [Processing failure] below.
2.3. Error Handling
2.3.1. Delivery failure
This section describes existing requirements for Internet mail,
rather than indicating special requirements for IFax devices.
In the event of relay failure, the sending relay MUST generate a
failure message, which SHOULD be in the format of a DSN .
NOTE: Internet mail transported via SMTP MUST contain a MAIL FROM
address appropriate for delivery of return notices. (See
2.3.2. Processing Failure
IFax devices with limited capabilities might be unable to process the
content of a message. If this occurs it is important to ensure that
the message is not lost without any notice. Notice MAY be provided
in any appropriate fashion, and the exact handling is a local matter.
(See Appendix A, second bullet.)
3.1. Classic Email Destinations
Messages being sent to normal Internet mail recipients will use
standard Internet mail addresses, without additional constraints.
3.2. G3Fax Devices
G3Fax devices are accessed via an IFAX offramp gateway, which
performs any authorized telephone dial-up.
3.3. Address Formats Used by Offramps
When a G3Fax device is identified by a telephone number, the entire
address used for the G3fax device, including the number and offramp
host reference MUST be contained within standard Internet mail
transport fields, such as RCPT TO and MAIL FROM [1, 3]. The address
MAY be contained within message content fields, such as <authentic>
and <destination> [2, 3], as appropriate.
As for all Internet mail addresses, the left-hand-side (local-part)
of an address is not to be interpreted except by the MTA that is
named on the right-hand-side (domain).
The telephone number format SHOULD conform to [7, 8]. Other formats
MUST be syntactically distinct from [7, 8].
4. Image File Format
Sending IFax devices MUST be able to write minimum set TIFF files,
per the rules for creating minimum set TIFF files defined in TIFF for
Facsimile (the S profile) , which is also compatible with the
specification for the minimum subset of TIFF-F in . Receiving
IFax devices MUST be able to read minimum set TIFF files.
A sender SHOULD NOT use TIFF fields and values beyond the minimum
subset of TIFF for Facsimile unless the sender has prior knowledge of
other TIFF fields or values supported by the recipient. The
mechanism for determining capabilities of recipients is beyond the
scope of this document.
5. Security Considerations
5.1. General Directive
This specification is based on use of existing Internet mail. To
maintain interoperability with Internet mail, any security to be
provided should be part of the of the Internet security
infrastructure, rather than a new mechanism or some other mechanism
outside of the Internet infrastructure.
5.2. Threats and Problems
Both Internet mail and G3Fax standards and operational services have
their own set of threats and countermeasures. This section attends
only to the set of additional threats which ensue from integrating
the two services. This section reviews relevant concerns about
Internet mail for IFax environments, as well as considering the
potential problems which can result of integrating the existing G3Fax
service with Internet mail.
5.2.1. Spoofed Sender
The actual sender of the message might not be the same as that
specified in the Sender or From fields of the message content headers
or the MAIL FROM address from the SMTP envelope.
In a tightly constrained environment, sufficient physical and
software controls may be able to ensure prevention of this problem.
The usual solution is through encryption-based authentication, either
for the channel or associated with the object, as discussed below.
It should be recognized that SMTP implementations do not provide
inherent authentication of the senders of messages, nor are sites
under obligation to provide such authentication. End-to-end
approaches such as S/MIME and PGP/MIME are currently being developed
within the IETF. These technologies can provide such authentication.
5.2.2. Resources Consumed by Dialout
In addition to the resources normally consumed for email (CPU cycles
and disk), offramp facsimile causes an outdial which often imposes
significant resource consumption, such as financial cost. Techniques
for establishing authorization of the sender are essential to those
offramp facsimile services that need to manage such consumption.
Due to the consumption of these resources by dialout, unsolicited
bulk email which causes an outdial is undesirable.
Offramp gateways SHOULD provide the ability to authorize senders in
some manner to prevent unauthorized use of the offramp. There are no
standard techniques for authorization using Internet protocols.
Typical solutions use simple authentication of the originator to
establish and verify their identity and then check the identity
against a private authorization table.
Originator authentication entails the use of weak or strong
mechanisms, such as cleartext keywords or encryption-based
data-signing, respectively, to determine and validate the identify
of the sender and assess permissions accordingly.
Other control mechanisms which are common include source filtering
and originator authentication. Source filtering entails offramp
gateway verification of the host or network originating the message
and permitting or prohibiting relaying accordingly.
5.2.3. GSTN Authorization Information
Confidential information about the sender necessary to dial a G3Fax
recipient, such as sender's calling card authorization number, might
be disclosed to the G3Fax recipient (on the cover page), such as
through parameters encoded in the G3Fax recipients address in the To:
or CC: fields.
Senders SHOULD be provided with a method of preventing such
disclosure. As with mechanisms for handling unsolicited faxes, there
are not yet standard mechanisms for protecting such information.
Out-of-band communication of authorization information or use of
encrypted data in special fields are the available non-standard
Typically authorization needs to be associated to specific senders
and specific messages, in order to prevent a "replay" attack which
causes and earlier authorization to enable a later dial-out by a
different (and unauthorized) sender. A non-malicious example of such
a replay would be to have an email recipient reply to all original
recipients -- including an offramp IFax recipient -- and have the
original sender's authorization cause the reply to be sent.
5.2.4. Sender Accountability
In many countries, there is a legal requirement that the "sender" be
disclosed on a facsimile message. Email From addresses are trivial
to fake, so that using only the MAIL FROM [1, 3] or From [2, 3]
header is not sufficient.
Offramps SHOULD ensure that the recipient is provided contact
information about the offramp, in the event of problems.
The G3Fax recipient SHOULD be provided with sufficient information
which permits tracing the originator of the IFax message. Such
information might include the contents of the MAIL FROM, From, Sender
and Reply-To headers, as well as Message-Id and Received headers.
5.2.5. Message Disclosure
Users of G3Fax devices have an expectation of a level of message
privacy which is higher than the level provided by Internet mail
without security enhancements.
This expectation of privacy by G3Fax users SHOULD be preserved as
much as possible.
Sufficient physical and software control may be acceptable in
constrained environments. The usual mechanism for ensuring data
confidentially entail encryption, as discussed below.
5.2.6. Non Private Mailboxes
With email, bounces (delivery failures) are typically returned to the
sender and not to a publicly-accessible email account or printer.
With facsimile, bounces do not typically occur. However, with IFax,
a bounce could be sent elsewhere (see section [Delivery Failure]),
such as a local system administrator's account, publicly-accessible
account, or an IFax printer (see also [Traffic Analysis]).
5.2.7. Traffic Analysis
Eavesdropping of senders and recipients is easier on the Internet
than GSTN. Note that message object encryption does not prevent
traffic analysis, but channel security can help to frustrate attempts
at traffic analysis.
5.3. Security Techniques
There are two basic approaches to encryption-based security which
support authentication and privacy:
5.3.1. Channel Security
As with all email, an IFax message can be viewed as it traverses
internal networks or the Internet itself.
Virtual Private Networks (VPN), encrypted tunnels, or transport layer
security can be used to prevent eavesdropping of a message as it
traverses such networks. It also provides some protection against
traffic analysis, as described above.
At the current time various protocols exist for performing the above
functions, and are only mentioned here for information. Such
protocols are IPSec  and TLS .
5.3.2. Object Security
As with all email, an IFax message can be viewed while it resides on,
or while it is relayed through, an intermediate Mail Transfer Agent.
Message encryption can be used to provide end-to-end encryption.
At the current time two protocols are commonly used for message
encryption and are only mentioned here for information. The two
protocols are PGP-MIME  and S/MIME .
6.1. Normative References
 Klensin, J., Editor, "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol", RFC 2821,
 Resnick, P., Editor, "Internet Message Format", RFC 2822, April
 Braden, R., "Requirements for Internet hosts - application and
support", STD 3, RFC 1123, October 1989.
 Borenstein, N. and N. Freed, "Multipurpose Internet Mail
Extensions (MIME) Part Five: Conformance Criteria and Examples",
RFC 2049, November 1996.
 Buckley, R., Venable, D., McIntyre, L., Parsons, G., and J.
Rafferty, "File Format for Internet Fax", RFC 3949, November
 Myers, J. and M. Rose, "Post Office Protocol - Version 3", STD
53, RFC 1939, May 1996.
 Allocchio, C., "Minimal GSTN address format for Internet mail",
RFC 3191, October 2001.
 Allocchio, C., "Minimal fax address format for Internet mail",
RFC 3192, October 2001.
 Moore, K., and G. Vaudreuil, "An Extensible Message Format for
Delivery Status Notifications", RFC 3464, January 2003.
 Freed, N. and N. Borenstein, "Multipurpose Internet Mail
Extensions (MIME) Part Two: Media Types", RFC 2046, November
 Moore, K. "MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) Part
Three: Message Header Extensions for Non-ASCII Text", RFC 2047,
 Parsons, G. and J. Rafferty, "Tag Image File Format (TIFF) -
image/tiff MIME Sub-type Registration", RFC 3302, September
 Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement
Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.
6.2. Informative References
 Parsons, G. and J. Rafferty, "Tag Image File Format (TIFF) -- F
Profile for Facsimile", RFC 2306, March 1998.
 ITU-T (CCITT), "Standardization of Group 3 facsimile apparatus
for document transmission", ITU-T (CCITT), Recommendation T.4.
 Callas, J., Donnerhacke, L., Finney, H., and R. Thayer, "OpenPGP
Message Format", RFC 2440, November 1998.
 Kent, S. and R. Atkinson, "Security Architecture for the
Internet Protocol", RFC 2401, November 1998.
 Hoffman, P., "SMTP Service Extension for Secure SMTP over
Transport Layer Security", RFC 3207, February 2002.
 Ramsdell, B., "S/MIME Version 3 Message Specification", RFC
2633, June 1999.
This specification was produced by the Internet Engineering Task
Force Fax Working Group, over the course of more than one year's
online and face-to-face discussions. As with all IETF efforts, many
people contributed to the final product.
Active for this document were: Steve Huston, Jeffrey Perry, Greg
Vaudreuil, Richard Shockey, Charles Wu, Graham Klyne, Robert A.
Rosenberg, Larry Masinter, Dave Crocker, Herman Silbiger, James
Appendix A: Exceptions to MIME
* IFax senders are not required to be able to send text/plain
messages (RFC 2049 requirement 4), although IFax recipients are
required to accept such messages, and to process them.
* IFax recipients are not required to offer to put results in a file.
(Also see 2.3.2.)
* IFax recipients MAY directly print/fax the received message rather
than "display" it, as indicated in RFC 2049.
Appendix B: List of edits to RFC 2305
| No.| Section | Edit July 27, 2001 |
| 1. |Copyright | Updated copyright from "1998" to "1999,2000" |
| |Notice | |
| 2. |SUMMARY | Changed the phrase "over the Internet" to |
| | | "using Internet mail" |
| 3. |5 | Changed the paragraphs regarding to the |
| | | following references to make them very |
| | | non-normative. |
| | | "OpenPGP Message Format", RFC 2440 |
| | | "Security Architecture for the IP", RFC 2401 |
| | | "SMTP Service Extensions for Secure SMTP over |
| | | TLS", RFC 2487 |
| | | "S/MIME Version 2 Message Specification", |
| | | RFC 2311 |
| 4. |REFERENCES| Removed the following references because they |
| | | are non-normative |
| | | "SMTP Service Extensions for Delivery Status |
| | | Notifications", RFC 1891 |
| | | "Internet Message Access Protocol", RFC 2060 |
| 5. |REFERENCES| Separated REFERENCES to the normative and |
| | | non-normative |
| 6. |Appendix | Changed the phrase from "NOT REQUIRED" to |
| | A | "not required" |
| 7. |Appendix | Added "Appendix B List of edits to RFC 2305" |
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