1993-10-28 - Re: Signing our keys

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From: paul@poboy.b17c.ingr.com (Paul Robichaux)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 27ceac64b16f60b645397d47562a9e1831f3453e4ab52f68264959d019c4f146
Message ID: <199310281806.AA13209@poboy.b17c.ingr.com>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1993-10-28 18:08:08 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 28 Oct 93 11:08:08 PDT

Raw message

From: paul@poboy.b17c.ingr.com (Paul Robichaux)
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 93 11:08:08 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re:  Signing our keys
Message-ID: <199310281806.AA13209@poboy.b17c.ingr.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain


In an interesting list message, Wonderer wrote:
>It seems to me that we have an interesting dilemma
>here. If we are willing to sign a key based on an
>entity that we KNOW does not really exist, then what
>does a signature mean? 

Here's a terrific example of one of the interesting differences
between the PEM-style key hierarchy and the PGP web.

Consider that any entity (real or spoofed) can own a key pair in
either model. A PEM key is bound to a particular identity by a
certificate. Right now, you can only get these certificates from
entities that want some concrete evidence of your True Name; this
makes sense, since the certificate establishes that key X belongs to
True Name Y.

PGP, OTOH, doesn't have any direct equivalent of a certificate. If I
get Wonderer's key with no signatures, I can't guarantee anything
about the association between that entity and the key I get. 

If I get that same PGP key with signatures from Phil Karn and L. Detwiler,
I know that they're willing to certify the assocation. Does that mean
anything? Well, it depends on who the signers are :)

A set of PGP signatures can be equivalent to a PEM-style certificate;
that is, the set of signatures on a key, establishing that a
particular key belongs to a particular entity, can potentially be as
trustworthy as a certificate from Dun & Bradstreet or RSA.

The PGP feature that a key doesn't have to belong to the True Name of
an entity is a big plus in my book; otherwise, we'd have no Wonderer,
no deadbeat, and no S. Boxx.

- -Paul

- -- 
Paul Robichaux, KD4JZG     | Caution: cutting edge is sharp. Avoid contact.
Intergraph Federal Systems | Be a cryptography user - ask me how.
	    ** Of course I don't speak for Intergraph. **

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