GnuPG this Past Fall
wk at gnupg.org
Mon Jan 16 23:16:29 CET 2017
Here is a plain text copy of Neal's recent blog entry. The permanent
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January 6, 2017
Table of Contents
1 GnuPG this Past Fall
.. 1.1 Development
.. 1.2 Releases
.. 1.3 Public Appearances
.. 1.4 Ecosystem
.. 1.5 Press
.. 1.6 Donations
1 GnuPG this Past Fall
The focus of development the past few months has been on polishing the
GnuPG 2.1 code base so that we can release GnuPG 2.2. This is
particularly important to us, because we want the latest features to
be available in the next release of Debian stable, which is about to
freeze. All of the main developers have participated in this effort,
but I want to particularly point out Daniel Kahn Gillmor’s many
patches in this area. Even prior to this effort, Daniel has regularly
submitted patches for relatively minor, boring issues. But, it is
exactly these types of fixes that result in a polished product.
A relatively major change that went into the most recent release of
GnuPG is the replacement of ADNS with William Ahern’s [libdns].
Unfortunately, our patches for Tor support for ADNS have been in limbo
for such a long time, that [we decided to change to a different DNS
Daniel Kahn Gillmor also helped implement and debug GnuPG’s new
supervisor mode. This mode allows GnuPG’s daemons to be auto-started
and auto-stopped by systemd. If you are tracking Debian testing or
Debian unstable, you can try enabling this by following the
instructions in `/usr/share/doc/gnupg-agent/README.Debian'. This is
based on the [reference implementation for starting GnuPG’s daemons
from systemd] that Daniel also contributed and is included in GnuPG
proper. Linux distributions that use systemd are encouraged to base
their systemd unit files on this implementation.
Justus also made significant improvements to our relatively new
Scheme-based testing framework. He’s also written many new tests,
fixed bugs in [TinyScheme], the Scheme interpreter that we are using,
and radically improved TinyScheme’s debugging facilities.
Furthermore, TinyScheme used to spent about 75% of the execution time
in the garbage collector alone, now it typically spends less than 40%
of the time in the memory allocator. Unfortunately, although he
submitted some patches upstream, they have been mostly ignored. Thus,
if you are using TinyScheme, you might want to consider including our
We’ve decided to change the [default expiration time for new keys to 2
years]. (Previously, keys did not expire by default.) Using an
expiration provides an emergency break for users who lose access to
their secret key material and any revocation certificate. But note:
just because a key has expired does not mean that one has to create a
new key; it is entirely possible to extend a key’s expiration, even
after the key has expired.
Another minor, but notable improvement that Justus implemented is to
GnuPG’s search algorithm. Justus changed gpg’s behavior to [take the
best match instead of the first match].
Niibe has continued to polish the smart card support including
improving support for v3 of the [OpenPGPcard] specification, and
initial support for [multiple card readers]. He has also reviewed and
integrated a number of bugs fixes and small improvements contributed
by Arnaud Fontaine.
Andre has made significant progress on GPGOL, our plugin for Outlook.
He plans to release a beta in the coming week. Part of this work
included fleshing out [how the automatic encryption system should
work], and thinking about what it can and cannot protect against.
We’ve documented this in the wiki. Comments (to the mailing list) are
As usual, Jussi Kivilinna contributed a number of improvements to
libgcrypt. Alon Bar-Lev, a GnuPG maintainer for Gentoo, submitted a
number of patches. Mike Blumenkrantz contributed a new [EFL-based
pinentry]. And, Tobias Mueller provided a number of improvements to
the Python bindings.
After a [long discussion], we decided to change the Python GPGME
bindings to use the [`gpg'] namespace instead of the `pyme3'
namespace. This should make finding the bindings easier.
There was also a discussion about [the right way to deal with any
missing dependencies (in particular, a sufficiently new GPGME) for the
Python bindings] when they are installed from pip. Unfortunately, we
don’t have sufficient resources to properly package them so any users
will need to make sure they have a recent operating system or build
[we decided to change to a different DNS resolver]
[reference implementation for starting GnuPG’s daemons from systemd]
[default expiration time for new keys to 2 years]
[take the best match instead of the first match]
[multiple card readers]
[how the automatic encryption system should work]
[the right way to deal with any missing dependencies (in particular, a
sufficiently new GPGME) for the Python bindings]
We’ve released new versions of GPGME including [1.7.0] and [1.8.0].
1.7.0 includes our new [Python bindings for GPGME], and 1.8.0 includes
the renaming of the namespace from `pyme3' to `gpg'.
The GnuPG proper saw two releases: version [2.1.16] and version
[2.1.17]. The latter was released exactly [19 years after Werner
released version 0.0.0]!
We released version 1.7.5 of [Libgcrypt], which includes an important
bug fix for a [secure memory exhaustion regression] ([see also this
post]), which was introduced in 1.7.4.
[Python bindings for GPGME]
[19 years after Werner released version 0.0.0]
[secure memory exhaustion regression]
[see also this post]
1.3 Public Appearances
In October and November, I traveled a fair amount. Before leaving, I
contacted a few local groups about giving my "An Advanced Introduction
to GnuPG" presentation. In the end, I held it in New York City at the
[NYLUG meetup] ([recording]), in Baltimore at [JHU’s ACM chapter], and
in San Francisco at [OpenLate], at [NoiseBridge], ([recording]) and at
the [Intercept]. The interest in GnuPG in New York is impressive: we
filled the 150 person room and there was a waiting list. The audience
was also very engaged and asked many questions. Joe Nelson’s
[recording at NoiseBridge] is probably the best recording so far (I
had a lapel mic and the slides were recorded separately). If you are
interested in seeing the presentation, that is the recording that I
While traveling, I also interviewed a number of GnuPG users
(journalists, lawyers, activists, and companies) for our upcoming
donation campaign. If you or your company/organization are willing to
talk about how you use GnuPG on camera, [please get in touch with me].
At the end of December, I attended the [CCC’s annual congress]. I
participated in a [panel discussion] with Volker Birk from [pEp] and
Holger Krekel from [Autocrypt]. Unfortunately, we only had half an
hour, which made the discussion rather superficial. Other talks more
or less related to GnuPG were presented in the [#wefixthenet session].
A few GnuPG team members will be present at this year’s [FOSDEM].
And, I, Daniel, and some of the Autocrypt people attend the Internet
Freedom Festival in March in Valencia, Spain.
[NYLUG meetup] https://www.meetup.com/nylug-meetings/events/234083247/
[JHU’s ACM chapter] https://www.acm.jhu.edu/
[recording at NoiseBridge]
[please get in touch with me]
[CCC’s annual congress] https://events.ccc.de/tag/33c3/
[K9] had a major release (5.2) with significantly better OpenPGP
support. Of particular note is support for PGP/MIME.
The developers of GPGTools have released a [beta version of GPGTools
for macOSX Sierra].
[Autocrypt] is a new, loose knit group working on a new key discovery
protocol for opportunistic encryption. Autocrypt is different from
WKD in that it transmits keys via email, and, as such, doesn’t require
any new third-party infrastructure, but is more susceptible to attacks
than WKD. This approach is complementary to WKD, and similar to what
pEp is doing.
pEp has also begun to [document their protocols]. Their intent
appears to be to submit them as IETF internet drafts.
[beta version of GPGTools for macOSX Sierra]
[document their protocols]
[The EFF expects surveillance and censorship to increase] under
President Trump. And, the same appears to be inevitable in Great
Britain with their recently introduced [Snoopers’ Charter]. The EFF
encourages technology companies to, among other things, improve their
support for end-to-end encryption. We agree, and add that even
individuals can help: start using encryption tools, and, if you know
how, volunteer at a local [CryptoParty].
Filippo Valsorda wrote an article about [why he is giving up on PGP],
which got picked up by Ars Technica, and endorsed by [Matthew Green]
and [Bruce Schneier] ([again]). [I composed a response], which Ars
Technica also carried. In short, one of the major reasons that
Filippo is giving up on PGP in favor of Signal and WhatsApp is due to
the lack of forward secrecy. It’s true that OpenPGP doesn’t support
forward secrecy (although it can be approximated with a bit of work).
But, it’s not clear to us whether that should be the most important
consideration. We know from Snowden, that when properly implemented,
"[encryption … really is one of the few things that we can rely on]."
In other words, when nation states crack encryption, they aren’t
breaking the actual encryption, they are circumventing it. Thus, if
you are like Filippo and are really worried about something like an
[evil maid attack], then you are probably better off storing your
encryption keys on a smart card, which is something that GnuPG
supports, but Signal does not. Another major problem with Signal,
which Filippo does not address, is its use of telephone numbers as
identifiers. This seriously undermines anonymity, and makes
harassment easier, which is a particular problem for women who post on
the Internet. There are been other responses including those from
[Bjarni Rúnar] (Mailpile), [Perry Donham] (BU), and [Alexandre
Dulaunoy] ([HN comments]).
Tobias Müller recently wrote a blog post about his [impressions of the
[Micah Lee was interviewed about his project about GPG Sync] by the
Heise published an article with [tips for encrypting emails] (in
LinuxFR published a primer covering [key validity and trust models],
including TOFU (in French). And, NextInpact published an article with
[a brief history of PGP and GnuPG, a number of tips for using GnuPG,
and some tradeoffs] (in French).
[The EFF expects surveillance and censorship to increase]
[why he is giving up on PGP]
[I composed a response]
[encryption … really is one of the few things that we can rely on]
[evil maid attack]
[Alexandre Dulaunoy] https://www.foo.be/2016/12/OpenPGP-really-works
[HN comments] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id%3D13301307
[impressions of the OpenPGP conference]
[Micah Lee was interviewed about his project about GPG Sync]
[tips for encrypting emails]
[key validity and trust models]
[a brief history of PGP and GnuPG, a number of tips for using GnuPG,
and some tradeoffs]
We recently received [an account statement] from the Wau Holland
foundation on the GnuPG account that they manage for us.
[an account statement]
Die Gedanken sind frei. Ausnahmen regelt ein Bundesgesetz.
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