At 07:34 PM 12/22/2003 -0700, Ed Reed wrote:
Of course they do. Examples:

D&B and other credit reporting agencies.
SEC for fair reporting of financial results.
International Banking Letters of Credit when no shared root of trust
Errors and Ommissions Professional Liability insurance for consultants
you don't know.
Workman's Compensation insurance for independent contractors you don't

I don't think that trust checking was so much of the question .... a not uncommon scenario was

1) institution set up an account possibly that included checking with 3rd party trust agencies
2) did various kinds of online transactions where the actual transaction included account-only information
3) got an offer from a certification authority to move into the "modern world"
a) send the CA a copy of the institutions account database
b) the ca would convert the information in each account record into a certificate
c) each certificate would be digitally signed by the CA
d) the CA would returned each digitally signed transformed account record back to the
institution and only charge a $100/certificate
4) the institution was to convert from modern online transactions to archaic offline transactions based on information in the certificate
5) the certificate would be a x.509 identity certificate that contain all of the account entity's identification information which would flow around attached to every transaction


1) x.509 certificates broadcast all over the world attacked to every transaction were in serious violation of all sorts of privacy issues
2) certificates were fundamentally designed to address a trust issue in offline environments where a modicum of static, stale data was better than nothing
3) offline, certificate oriented static stale processing was a major step backward compared to online, timely, dynamic processing.
4) the traditional outsourced trust has the relying-party contracted with the trust agency so that there is some form of legal obligation, the traditional CA model has no such legal obligation existing between the relying-party and the trust/certifying agency (the contract is frequently between the trust agency and the key owner, not the relying-party).

In the mid to late 90s ... some financial institutions attempted to salvage some of the paradigm (because of the severe privacy and liability issues) by going to relying-party-only, certificates for online transactions. However, it is trivial to show that the static, stale information in the relying-party-only certificate was a trivial subset of the information that would be accessed in the real account record for the online transactions ... and therefor it was trivial to show that static, stale certificates were redundant and superfulous. misc. past posts regarding relying-party-only scenario:

I think that the current federal gov.PKI tries to address the legal obligation issue ... by creating a legal situation where essentially all the authorized CA operators are effectively agents of the federal PKI ... and all the relying parties have contracts with the federal PKI ... which simulates a legal obligation between the issuer of the certificate and the relying-parties.

In something like the D&B scenario ... the relying party contracts for some information with D&B about the entity that the relying party is interested in. In many of the traditional 3rd party CA-PKIs, there may be absolutely no legal relationship between the CA issuing the certificate (trust information) and any of the relying parties that are relying on the trust information i.e. the contract is between the CA issuing the certificate ... and the entity that the certificate is about. Since the entity (that the trust information is about) may be the party paying for the trust information ... they may have some motivation to shop around and get the most favorable report. Lets say I was applying for a loan and the loan institution needed a credit report. Rather than the loan institution contracting for the credit report, they rely on one supplied by the loan applicate. The loan applicant is free to choose from all the credit reporting agencies which credit report that they will buy for supplying to the loan institution.

random past threads on trust propagation: An attack on paypal Keyservers and Spam An attack on paypal SSL, client certs, and MITM (was WYTM?) VS: On-line signature standards VS: On-line signature standards VS: On-line signature standards PKI/KRB Self-Signed Certificate public key vs passwd authentication? Is this right? Question about SSL and PKI
Anne & Lynn Wheeler
Internet trivia 20th anv

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