certificate chain depth

david david at gbenet.com
Sat Apr 25 22:31:45 CEST 2009

Hash: SHA1

Robert J. Hansen wrote:
>> Hi, I don't wish to be over-simplistic, but I had thought that the web
>> of trust was a people thing rather than a mathematical model.
> Honestly, it's a little of one and a lot of the other.  The questions of
> "whom do I trust and why?" is purely a human factor; the questions of
> "... and given I trust them, what can I deduce to be true?" is a
> mathematical question.
>> What is trust anyway?
> Generally, trust is the ability to break someone's security policy.
> E.g., I've given a friend of mine from college, John Hawley, a trusted
> signature.  John can now screw over my local security policy.  If I see
> a key which John has signed, I'm going to assume that key is valid.  If
> John signs keys that aren't valid, he can break my security policy.
> This is why most uses of the phrase "trusted system" give security geeks
> the heebie-jeebies.  A trusted system is, ironically, more dangerous
> than an untrusted system.  An untrusted system has no capability to
> break your security policy; a trusted system can.  That means trusted
> systems often need to be watched like hawks.
> In a similar vein, many Wall Street brokers were trusted with billions
> of client money -- and they should have been watched closely as a result
> of that trust.
I appreciate secure systems - being rigid are apt to get broken or
people break out of them :) just as equally friendships based on common
interests and concerns dissolve - may be there's no trust in keys at
all. it's a value judgement - that over time, changing conditions may
not reflect the "trust" one had in regard to the person. I'm not likely
to put trust into systems.

I appreciate the security of transmitted data and a requirement it's not
going to leak out the edges or that some one's going to compromise
oneself or others - or (it just struck me) that I may want to compromise
some one (shudder) but then we are still making value judgements about
people and who we trust and why we trust them.

It was philosophical - radical politics - enabling people to protect
their privacy - as a driving principle - where are we now then? a small
group of people that's fairly secure - but the principle is for public
world wide use of pgp to safeguard their privacy - with a fair few
intent on breaking it. It's still a people thing - conflicts of
interest, politics, philosophy the ethics or mores that govern how
people interact. What they share - are we to become closed and only open
if a key is trusted by so many? That in itself is a weakness.

Must be the Med sea and the coffee ............

Happy Days


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