OpenPGP vs inline PGP

Ben Finney
Tue Jul 8 04:31:02 2003

On Mon 07-Jul-2003 17:27 -0700, Robin Lynn Frank wrote:
> On Monday 07 July 2003 04:40 pm, Ingo Kl?cker wrote:
> > It's looking for the OpenPGP plugin which is necessary for PGP/MIME
> > support.
> Although I thank you for that info, I have to say I am astounded by
> the human mind's ability to create complex solutions to simple
> problems.

What simple problem has been made complex, in your view?

OpenPGP is an attempt to use a flexible, common attachment method,
instead of the domain-specific, inflexible attachment method of inline
signatures.  This seems like a simplification, not a complication.

> It will be easier to tell those few of our business clients who use
> MUAs that put the sig in an attachment that we won't be accepting
> those sigs anymore.

I don't see a good reason to reject them.  Your choice, of course.

> At least it will allow me to go back to our standard of rejecting mail
> that isn't plain text.

A signed PGP message isn't "plain text"; it has an attached signature.
Whether tha signature is attached by the MIME attachment standard or by
the PGP-specific attachment method, it's still an attachment.

If it's attached by MIME, any MIME processing software can recognise
that, and can even determine what type of attachment it is, without
needing to know anything about PGP or GPG.  The plain text can be
extracted by any MIME-aware program, without needing to know anything
but MIME.

If it's attached by PGP's own method, it isn't recognised by anything
that hasn't been specifically told about PGP's way of attaching
signatures.  This means the plain text cannot be extracted without this
domain-specific knowledge.

You can choose to reject MIME signature attachments and allow only PGP
signature attachments, but by doing so you'll miss a growing segment of
the crypto-using community: those attempting to conform to mail

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