# Email Updates

Email updates were the original method of updating the RIPE Database. They are still used by many people, although synchronous updates by the other methods now account for the majority of updates.

Email update messages must be in plain text and can be MIME-encoded. If encoded messages are multipart/signed, the signature part will be associated with the corresponding MIME text part. When an encoded message is received, the database software will take each valid MIME part (including any related signature part) and merge them into one update message. Please see section 'MIME Support' for more information.

Passwords needed for authorising the updates of all objects in the message must be included somewhere in the message. This is done with the pseudo-attribute “password:”, for example:

password: some clear text

This “password:” pseudo-attribute can be placed anywhere in the message. One attribute is needed for each required password. If the message is MIME-encoded the passwords can be in any MIME part. When it is all merged into a single update message, all passwords found will apply to all objects in the update. Passwords can also be contained within the text part of a signed update message and apply to objects outside the signed part. All credentials will be extracted before any authorisation checks are made. The “password:” pseudo-attributes will be removed before any of the objects are processed. This ensures that they will never be considered as part of any object.

Acknowledgements (ack) containing the result of the update are returned to the sender of the email based on the "Reply-to:" and "From:" fields in the email header. Notifications (notif) may also be sent based on email addresses found in the attributes within each object in the update message and the related mntner objects. See section on Notifications.

To submit an email update, send your email message to one of the following email addresses:

There is no limit on how many objects that can be included in an email update message, or MIME part. There is a maximum limit on the size of an email message, which is 40 MB.

Only one ack message is returned for each update message. However, there may be many notif messages generated for each object in the update. This can result in large numbers of emails sent out when an update contains many objects. The ack and all notifs are all sent out at the end of processing the whole update message. Your mail server needs to be able to handle large numbers of emails coming from a single source (@ripe.net), otherwise they may all get marked as spam. You should optimise the number of update messages and number of objects per update to suit your working practises.

# MIME Support

The database software supports MIME. This means that you can cryptographically sign an update message using email agents that attach the signature in a separate MIME part, not in the body of the message. However, encryption of the text is not allowed. All update messages must be sent in plain text.

Nested signing of messages is possible, allowing an update message to be signed by one user, sent to another user who signs it again and submits the update.

The database software does not allow any scoping of authorisation within the message (for example, MIME parts where different passwords apply).

It is strongly recommended to keep MIME encapsulation simple. Complex MIME structures are more likely to generate errors.

The following rules apply when submitting updates using MIME encapsulation:

The software will recognise the following headers and take the appropriate actions:

  • multipart/signed
  • multipart/alternative
  • multipart/mixed
  • multipart/unknown
  • application/pgp-signature
  • application/x-pkcs7-signature
  • application/pkcs7-signature
  • text/plain

All other content-types are treated as text/plain.

After extracting credentials and validating signatures, all MIME parts are merged together and treated as a single update message.

# Subject Line Keywords

The subject line can have a special meaning in email update messages by using keywords. The available keywords, which are case-insensitive, are:

  • NEW
  • HELP
  • HOWTO

One way to use a keyword is to put the single keyword in the subject line of an email message, with NO other words. If any other word is found (for example, Subject: NEW objects) then none of the words will be treated as keywords. All words in the subject line will be reported in the acknowledgement reply as invalid keywords, along with a WARNING message. In this context, it is impossible to know if a word is meant as a keyword or just part of a comment.

Many users often include their own references in the subject line. Using this method, it is not possible to also use a keyword. The user's references are reported in the WARNING message as invalid keywords.

Some examples: Subject: new

This is an accepted keyword. Subject: sending my new objects

None of these words are accepted as a keyword and all reported in the warning message.

Use the NEW keyword if you want the database to only accept new objects. In this case, all objects found in the update are assumed to be creation operations. If an object already exists in the database, that object will result in an error message in the acknowledgement. However, the remaining objects will still be processed.

The HELP keyword causes a piece of text to be returned in the acknowledgement that contains information about how to query and update the database. When this keyword is used the body of the update message, it is ignored. HOWTO performs the same action as the HELP keyword.

Last Updated: Monday, 11 July 2022