Why would I want S/MIME?

Aaron Toponce aaron.toponce at gmail.com
Mon Sep 12 23:49:12 CEST 2016

On Mon, Sep 12, 2016 at 01:31:38PM -0500, Anthony Papillion wrote:
> I understand what S/MIME is and that it's probably the easiest crypto
> solution for most email users. But why would someone comfortable with
> GnuPG use it? Does it offer any advantages over traditional PGP keys? If
> I understand correctly, it's a certificate that much like a SSL
> certificate. If that's the case, doesn't it suffer from the same
> weaknesses that SSL certs currently suffer from (like double issuance, etc)?
> Why would I want to use S/MIME?

Are you comparing S/MIME to PGP/MIME and PGP/Inline? I assume so, with your
question regarding GnuPG. As such, S/MIME provides some advantages over

    * S/MIME ships the entire public key as part of the email.
    * S/MIME certificates are usually created and managed by the organization.
    * There as wide-spread MUA support for S/MIME (EG: Outlook).

PGP/MIME and PGP/Inline generally mean getting the public key separately.
Because PGP and OpenPGP are decentralized, trust is manual (versus CAs with SSL
certificates in S/MIME). There is not widespread support for OpenPGP public
keys in MUAs, such as Outlook and most web-based MUAs. OpenPGP keys must be
managed independently, and this has shown to be more work than most people are
willing to put in.

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