PGP/MIME considered harmful for mobile

Ben McGinnes ben at
Mon Feb 28 04:19:49 CET 2011

On 28/02/11 12:35 PM, Robert J. Hansen wrote:
> On Feb 27, 2011, at 5:17 PM, David Shaw wrote:
>> Can I see the HCI study that MIME attachments confuse people? ;)
> I would love to see such a study.  However, I never made that claim.  :)
> Someone else made the claim PGP/MIME is superior because inline
> OpenPGP signatures confuse people.  Okay, I'll stipulate the latter:
> but to argue that inline OpenPGP signatures confuse people but
> PGP/MIME signatures don't (or that they confuse people much less)
> seems to me to be kind of a stretch.

I've seen both confuse people.  In-line generally produced general
confusion about what it was, PGP/MIME produced either "I couldn't open
that attachment" or "careful, you might have a virus."  At which point
I usually responded with a pre-written explanation of what it was, why
I used it and why their (usually Microsoft) MUA couldn't handle it.

I haven't received a panicked or confused response like that in a few
years, but I do occasionally get questions as to what it is that are
more just people being curious.  I see this gradual shift in reactions
as a good thing.


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