howto secure older keys after the recent attacks

David Shaw dshaw at
Fri Sep 11 04:23:43 CEST 2009

On Sep 10, 2009, at 8:38 PM, Daniel Kahn Gillmor wrote:

> On 09/10/2009 06:32 PM, Christoph Anton Mitterer wrote:
>> 3) One problem with such devices is,.. that one can never know  
>> (well at
>> least normal folks like me) how good they actually are.
>> If this company would be evil (subsidiary of NSA or so) they could  
>> just
>> sell bad devices that produce poor entropy thus rendering our  
>> (symmetric
>> and asymmetric) keys, signatures etc. "useless". Right?
> Worse than this: the devices could produce measurably "good" entropy
> that happens to be predictable to a malicious individual in control  
> of a
> special secret.

Sure, but your computer vendor "could" have a relationship with the  
NSA and put some special code in the BIOS to capture keyboard input  
and periodically send it to a central server.  Your disk drive vendor  
"could" keep a few extra sectors hidden from the reallocation pool,  
and use them to store copies of things that match the byte signature  
of a PGP key.  Your wifi AP vendor "could" have a hidden secret WPA  
key that makes your home network available to a malicious individual  
in control of the special secret.

"Could" is a very powerful word.  At some point, people have to buy  
and run the closed-source hardware they need to run their open-source  
software on :)


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