E-Mail Encryption: Why Isn't Everyone Doing It?
David Picón Álvarez
Sat Oct 26 01:25:02 2002
I remember having come up with an idea of the sort and posted here and most
people thought it wasn't very useful because it was far too weak. If people
think it's still a useful thing to have then I'd like to make a couple of
> The basic idea was a web form where a user could paste their key or an
> email address to send it the key to. The program would then email a
> challenge string to each email address on the key. If the challenge
> came back signed by the user's key, then the program would sign that
> user ID with its own key.
There's a program that does something close enough to this at hushmail, for
free. Unfortunately, hushmail's certification key is not on the keyservers
so it's not streight forward to verify the signature. I suppose it would be
possible to a) extract the key from hushmail and send it to a keyserver
though that would be rude or 2) convince hushmail to send its key.
As well, biglumber.com has a similar mechanism for account creation though
it doesn't culminate with a certifying signature, but just with the
validation of the account.
I've been thinking that if there would be a trojan or something on the
machine of the user most security would still be lost anyway, but I've been
thinking of ways to de-automatize the process just enough to ensure human
intervention. Among what I have thought of are to ask for a number which is
contained on a graphic (the graphic would have to be noisified a bit), to
ask for a number contained in a sound sample, or to ask for easy questions
(ideally one-time) that anyone should know or at least could find out in
google in 1 min like who's the president of the US or what country is Berlin
> One gotcha we can avoid, if there are multiple levels of certification
> in the future, is to use a different signing key for each. That way
> users can trust the signing key for the exact service they want. I
> understand Thawte got this detail wrong when they set up their PGP
> signing service.
BTW, why is it so that we can't use thawte?
At least I've been told so.
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