riseup.net OpenPGP Best Practices article

Paul R. Ramer free10pro at gmail.com
Thu Jun 26 22:28:22 CEST 2014

On June 26, 2014 8:26:16 AM PDT, Daniel Kahn Gillmor <dkg at fifthhorseman.net> wrote:

>As for arguments about use on smartcards -- if you plan to get a
>smartcard, and you have a primary key that is too large for it, you can
>always generate and publish new subkeys that will fit in your
>If that's the tradeoff that seems the most secure for you, that's fine,
>and the fact that you were using stronger keys in your non-smartcard
>implementation doesn't hurt you at all.  Smartcards are not a good
>reason to object to larger keysizes for people who don't use

Actually, it is for those of us who prefer smartcards.  I was once newbie trying to use a smartcard. Repeated emphasis on having only a 4k key can create the impression that a smartcard is not strong enough, that it is weaker because it can only go up to 3072 bits (depending on the card).

The reason for me to have a smartcard was to physically separate the key from the computer.  Using a key that is too large for the smartcard does not fit my purpose for having one.

>The pushback of "don't bother using stronger crypto, something else
>be your problem" seems silly to me.  It's like saying "don't bother
>fighting sexism, people are going hungry!"  We can (and should) push on
>all of these fronts concurrently.

On the contrary, shouting, "Bigger! Larger! Greater!" without a justification based on actual threats posed to that user when the defaults will suffice creates the impression that only the most heavy duty crypto will keep their communications private, and the user will eschew the defaults simply because they aren't "big enough." It's bad education. Or worse--the lack thereof.



PGP: 3DB6D884

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