1994-03-30 - Re: Very funny, Polyanna :-( [namespace pollution]

Header Data

From: Graham Toal <gtoal@an-teallach.com>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 3fa0e5e35c5e09b4750f56241603773842ae1895811e4d5e0dacbd4b113ecdd7
Message ID: <199403301844.TAA19801@an-teallach.com>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1994-03-30 20:14:50 UTC
Raw Date: Wed, 30 Mar 94 12:14:50 PST

Raw message

From: Graham Toal <gtoal@an-teallach.com>
Date: Wed, 30 Mar 94 12:14:50 PST
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: Very funny, Polyanna :-( [namespace pollution]
Message-ID: <199403301844.TAA19801@an-teallach.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

	From: Eric Hughes <hughes@ah.com>

	contracting and for authentication.  The current systems don't support
	this, and will, I suspect, not support this any time soon.  In the
	meanwhile such policies will have to be created manually, even if
	their operation is transparent.

	>Whatever solution we can find will have to involve active support
	>from the keyservers I suspect.  

	The key servers are just serving data.  To add policy criteria to the
	key servers is to extend their functionality beyond their original

So?  It has to be done *sometime* by someone.  The point I was making
was that for pgp (or any equivalent cyphered mail system) to work *en
masse*, it has to be completely automatic and idiot-proof.  I'm not
talking about *us* here, I'm talking about your old mother, or Mac
users, or the company technophobic managing director etc.  What I see
as desirable for such people is that their mail is encrypted whenever
possible, but they don't have to do anything to make it happen.  This
means that the current web of trust scheme is not an applicable model,
because these people have defined *no* trusted paths at all.

We need some relatively trustworthy mechanism for getting pgp keys
that will foil a denial-of-service attack - either the one I suggested
where someone sets up a key for a mailing list or mail2news gateway
(either maliciously or accidentally as with our friend Paulie-Anna)
- or where someone creates a key for a specific person (as one joker
did for Sternlight last year (this was a second one; Sternlight had
one of his own first which he never revoked before he deleted his
private key...)) which means that person won't be able to receive
mail - if auto-pgp mechanisms become common.

To me it looks like this has to be done by heavy-handed control
coming from the keyserver admins, though I'd prefer that there
was a more democratic way.  Please suggest anything you think is

For the moment, I think that an auto-pgp mechanism will have to
use a relatively secure server like SLED that can't have arbitrary
keys added to it by all and sundry.  If this is sufficiently
different to the current key server mechanism that Eric doesn't
object, then fine :-)  Actually, the mechanism I forsee for doing
this sort of thing is the tcp/ip interface to a keyserver that
Ben Cox suggested last november.  It *could* be bolted on to the
finger server at wasabi, but I think the whole concept needs us
to stand back a bit and think of what we really want before we
start hacking.

One mechanism that crossed my mind - when a new key is added, the
keyserver that gets it first might hold on to the new key until
after it had mailed the key owner and requested confirmation.  This
ought to be possible to automate.  This would also block the cases
where someone bulk uploads their keyring with keys on it which
they'd been given in confidence, by people who didn't want their
employers or government to know they were using pgp...


PS cc'd to alt.security.pgp - would the cypherpunks interested
in this thread follow it there with me please?