auto-key-retrieve considered harmful

Robert Schiele robert.schiele at
Sun Dec 7 09:56:05 CET 2003

On Sun, Dec 07, 2003 at 06:55:36AM +0100, Christian Biere wrote:
> Hi,
> unfortunately there are many tools which don't differ between
> trusted and untrusted keys e.g., the mail clients Sylpheed,
> Mulberry and probably hundreds of tools more. [Actually, it's
> beyond me how they can dare to implement OpenPGP support in 
> such a way. Either, do it the right way or just don't do it at 
> all.]
> Let me imagine a world in which people are rather lazy. In this
> world people would turn put the line
> 	keyserver-option auto-key-retrieve
> into their gpg.conf. Now, everytime they get a signed mail
> with a key they don't have in their keyring, the key will
> be automatically retrieved from the keyserver. As they
> can't remember their buddies' key IDs they just believe in
> their mail clients' message "Good signature".
> IMO, the documentation should at least contain a *big* *fat*
> *scary* warning about using that option. In the long run,

I disagree, the warning should not be about using that option, but about using
such broken applications that cannot handle gpg in a correct way.

This is somewhat like in that Dilbert comic (sorry, can't find the original

   Dilbert talking to Dogbert: I got fired from my job at the restaurant.
      Every time I carried hot soup my thumb would slip in and I'd scream and
      spray the whole dining room.  I blame the soup.
   Dogbert: Stupid soup.


Robert Schiele			Tel.: +49-621-181-2517
Dipl.-Wirtsch.informatiker	mailto:rschiele at
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