Posted Nov 8, 2007 17:32 UTC (Thu) by copsewood (subscriber, #199)
In reply to: Email privacy by NAR
Parent article: Email privacy
"So in the end it's still too terribly difficult to use. "
Indeed. I have found many applications of this technology to be too difficult to use routinely
in practice, even though I teach it. And in my view for this fact to change 3 developments
1. DNSSEC provides a certification forest with root keys at the domain roots - users can
choose between different certification standards and approaches based on the top-level domain
they choose their own registered domain to be within. Domain registration comes with
certification of a domain signing key as standard. I'll believe this one has occurred when
cryptographic services are provided alongside standard DNS domain registration and renewal as
standard practice. (I don't realistically see any non-DNS based approach to key authentication
taking off. If you already have the cost and hassle of renewing a domain every year or 2 you
might as well combine the possibility of key certification and rollover servicing at the same
2. Secret keys to be held by end users are mostly kept on cheap/small cryptographic hardware
used only to sign and encrypt documents. This possibility is getting closer. Today I saw a
brand new authentication device (small enough to attach to a set of physical keys) which
generates a six digit security code every minute for up to 5 years issued routinely for use
with a bank account.
3. Usable standards are developed for storing public keys within DNS and for cross-platform
APIs for networked applications requesting and obtaining encryption and signing services using
dedicated crypto hardware described in 2.
With the above 3 developments in place, all the end user should have to do to sign and encrypt
or decrypt an email or bank transfer request should be to see a dialog box which asks them to
press a button on their hardware security device, showing them a short digest of the message
on screen, which should be the same as the digest shown on the display of their device so they
can know what they are being asked to sign.