Ian Grigg wrote:

Cryptography is a special product, it may
appear to be working, but that isn't really
good enough.  Coincidence would lead us to
believe that clear text or ROT13 were good
enough, in the absence of any attackers.

For this reason, we have a process.  If the
process is not followed, then coincidence
doesn't help to save our bacon.

It has to follow, for it to be valuable.  If
it doesn't follow, to treat it as anything
other than a mere coincidence to be dismissed
out of hand is leading us on to make other

I think that Matt Blaze said it fairly well.
There are some security practices that in
the recent past are now considered appalling.

It's time to be a little bit appalled, and
to recognise SSL for what it is - a job that
survived not on its cryptographic merits, but
through market and structural conditions at
the time.

SSL/TLS is not a complete security solution. It is a building block. It is a protocol for communication between two end points. As such, its threat model deals with threats involving that communication. It does not deal with the security of the end point, because if you can compromise the machine that the software trying to communicate is running on, then no protocol can provide you with any level of security.

You might choose to argue that a communications protocol is not what we need, but that would have nothing to do with the threat model that SSL/TLS is designed around.

It seems what you're criticizing here is the Netscape and Microsoft client/server HTTPS-based security solutions for electronic commerce. These are certainly built using SSL/TLS as a building block, but criticisms of their design have very little relevance for SSL/TLS itself.

Here's specifically what the server does:  When
it is installed, it doesn't also install and
start up the SSL server.  You know that page
that has the feather on?  It should also start
up on the SSL side as well, perhaps with a
different colour.

Specifically, when you install the server, it
should create a self-signed certificate and use
it.  Straight away.  No questions asked.

Then, it becomes an administrator issue to
replace that with a custom signed one, if the
admin guy cares.

This really has nothing to do with TLS. If you don't like the installation process for Apache, you could fix it and send the patches back, or you could write your own web server.

There should be no dialogue at all.  Going from
HTTP to HTTPS/self signed is a mammoth increase
in security.  Why does the browser say it is
less/not secure?

Further, the popups are a bad way to tell the
user what the security level is. The user can't
grok them and easily mucks up on any complex
qeustions. There needs to be a security display
on the secured area that is more prominent and
also more graded (caching numbers) than the
current binary lock symbol.

The security UI for netscape/mozilla has always been terrible. IMHO, designing a user-friendly UI for crypto stuff that doesn't compromise security has been (and continues to be) the greatest obstacle to getting people to use this stuff.

Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set | Tom Weinstein
him on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life. | [EMAIL PROTECTED]

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