I am very much enjoying the discussion about threat models, web stores, etc. I'm interested to see a continual influx of spoofed e-mail from e-gold.com in my inbox, instructing me to click here to verify the safety of my account.
Here is a good rant from Schneier's "Secrets and Lies". From Chapter 15, "Certificates and Credentials", section "PKIs On The Internet" (page 238). I will quote here the entire section. The first couple of paragraphs are old hat to this audience, but if you haven't read this before then read it now. Regards, Zooko """ PKIS ON THE INTERNET Most people's only interaction with a PKI is using SSL. SSL secures web transactions, and sometimes PKI vendors point to it as enabling technology for electronic commerce. This argument is disingenuous; no one is turned away at an online merchant for not using SSL. SSL does encrypt credit card transactions on the Internet, but it is not the source of security for the participants. That security comes from credit card company procedures, allowing a consumer to repudiate any line item charge before paying the bill. SSL protects the consumer from eavesdroppers, it does not protect against someone breaking into the Web site and stealing a file full of credit card numbers, nor does it protect against a rogue employee at the merchant harvesting credit card numbers. Credit card company procedures protest against those threats. PKIs are supposed to provide authentication, but they don't even do that. Example one: the company F-Secure (formerly Data Fellows) sells software from its Web site at www.datafellows.com. If you click to buy software, you are redirected to the Web site www.netsales.net, which makes an SSL connection with you. The SSL certificate was issued to "NetSales, Inc., Software Review LLC" in Kansas. F-Secure is headquartered in Helsinki and San Jose. By any PKI rules, no one should do business with this site. The certificate received is not from the same company that sells the software. This is exactly what a man-in-the-middle attack looks like, and exactly what PKI is supposed to prevent. Example two: I visited www.palm.com to purchase something for my PalmPilot. When I went to the online checkout, I was redirected to https://palmorder.modusmedia.com/asp/store.asp. The SSL certificate was registered to Modus Media International; clearly a flagrant attempt to defraud Web customers, which I deftly uncovered because I carefully checked the SSL certificate. Not. Has anyone ever sounded the alarm in these cases? Has anyone not bought online products because the name of the certificate didn't match the name on the Web site? Has anyone but me even noticed? I doubt it. It's true that VeriSign has certified this man-in-the-middle attack, but no one cares. I made my purchases anyway, because the security comes from credit card rules, not from the SSL. My maximum liability from a stolen card is $50, and I can repudiate a transaction if a fraudulent merchant tries to cheat me. As it is used, with the average used not bothering to verify the certificates exchanged and no revocation mechanism, SSL is just simply a (very slow) Diffie-Hellman key-exchange method. Digital certificates provide no actual security for electronic commerce; it's a complete sham. """ --------------------------------------------------------------------- The Cryptography Mailing List Unsubscribe by sending "unsubscribe cryptography" to [EMAIL PROTECTED]