B2B – AS2 Best Practices for MDNs by Scott Haaland

An MDN (Message Disposition Notification) is a transmission level acknowledgment used in the AS2 standard, so that the sender knows that the receiver successfully acquired the message in a B2B scenario.  B2B (Business to Business) is an integration term used to describe the sending and receiving of business messages between business partners.  When the business messages are being sent over the internet via HTTP or SMTP, it is critical to business operators to know that the messages were transmitted successfully to the right party.   In order to give assurance to the business operators, specific B2B transmission standards have been developed.  We call these standards "Message Exchange Standards". These include AS1, AS2, AS4, ebMS and RNIF, to name a few.  AS2 is a very common standard for EDI messaging.  It is important for everyone using the standard to do so in the same way, or else inter-operation becomes very difficult or impossible.  Here is a diagram showing a typical EDI interaction over AS2 between two fictitious partners named OracleServices and MarketInc.

AS2 provides features such as Non-Repudiation of Origin, Non-Repudiation of Receipt, and Message Protection.  When sending a message, the sender includes a digital signature, and the receiver replies with an acknowledgement called an MDN (Message Disposition Notification) that includes the receiver's digital signature.  Because each message is signed digitally, the receiver can be sure that original message has really been sent by the sender, and that the message has not been tampered with, which we call Non-Repudiation of Origin.  When the receiver replies with the signed MDN, the sender can be sure that the receiver obtained the message successfully, and that it was the correct receiver, which we call Non-Repudiation of Receipt.  When message encryption is turned on, then the message can be protected in flight because it can only be decrypted by the receiver. Read the complete article here.

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