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WCF binding security mode in app config is confusing

Posted on 2010-08-21
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I am confused by some of the security settings in WCF, when you are making configuration settings in the host app config.  The issue centers on the following nodes:
<binding>
  <security mode = "" >
     <transport ...  />
     <message .... />

Learning WCF, by Bustamante, says that the defaults for wsHttpBinding and netTcpBinding are:

<binding>    <!-- for wsHttpBinding  -->
  <security mode = "Message" >
     <transport ...  />
     <message .... />

<binding>    <!-- netTcpBinding  -->
  <security mode = "Transport" >
     <transport ...  />
     <message .... />

What confuses me is why are both <transport> and <message> used?  For all the other standard bindings defaults the @mode value and the child element to <security> match up one-to-one.  (If mode=Message then they use security/message; if mode=transport, then they use security/trnasport)

I guess I dont understand the meaning of <security mode="" >   The text (and msdn) explains "mode" with statements like, "this configures the binding for transport security" or "this configures the binding for message security"

What are the meanings of security/@mode and security/transport and security/message; and how do the interact and/or depend on each other?
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Question by:pdschuller
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The "mode" is the controlling factor; it establishes how security is going to work.  Beyond that, additional configuration information will be read from child elements <transport> and <message>, if present, and as they pertain to the selected mode.

Depending on your selected mode, <transport> or <message> may not be applicable.  For instance, mode "None" disables security and anything else you put in there gets ignored.  Because some modes like TransportWithMessageCredential use both elements <transport> and <message>, these elements must both remain simultaneously permissible by the XML schema itself.  Whether they'll actually be used depends on the mode.

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