MIME or inline signature ?

Daniel Kahn Gillmor dkg at fifthhorseman.net
Sun Feb 15 21:26:24 CET 2015

On Sat 2015-02-14 16:36:08 -0500, Doug Barton wrote:
> FWIW, I hate this debate, and try hard to stay out of it. But it really 
> bothers me when people spread factually incorrect information, 
> especially when they try to use that as the basis of their arguments 
> for/against one method or the other.

I feel the same way.

>> * AFAIK, inline gpg has issues with non-ascii characters. 😞 Correct me if I'm
>>    wrong.
> This hasn't been true for almost a decade, assuming that the person 
> using the non-ASCII characters has correctly set up their environment. 
> And FWIW, it's also not true that PGP/MIME will be 100% successful when 
> one of the communicants has not correctly set up their environment.

if we're talking about signed messages with the possibility of an
adversary who can modify the messages, then the the fact is that inline
PGP messages have no way of securely indicating the character encoding
in use.  This means that an attacker can actually modify how the
cleartext message is interpreted by fiddling with data *outside* the
message body.

If we're talking about encrypted messages, the same problem holds.

I demonstrate this in the "Message tampering through header
substitution" section here:


the lesson here is: if you care about getting the intended textual
message through to your peer, you need to embed some information about
the formatting *within* the signature.  PGP/MIME provides a clear,
well-defined way to provide that information.

> It's also not true that PGP/MIME protects you from metadata analysis. 
> The messages are not "one big blob," they are actually separated into 
> parts, including the attachments. It's trivial to see how many 
> attachments are in a message just by analyzing the MIME headers, whether 
> the message/attachments are encrypted or not.

If we're talking about PGP/MIME encrypted messages, this is not correct.

When having this debate, some people are talking about encrypted
messages; others are talking about signed messages.  there are lots of
ways to talk past one another with this stuff, so please be clear about
whether you're talking about encrypted or signed messages.


-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 948 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: </pipermail/attachments/20150215/a1de7bd0/attachment.sig>

More information about the Gnupg-users mailing list