At 12:09 PM 7/28/2004, Adam Back wrote:
The difference is if the CA does not generate private keys, there
should be only one certificate per email address, so if two are
discovered in the wild the user has a transferable proof that the CA
is up-to-no-good.  Ie the difference is it is detectable and provable.

If the CA in normal operation generates and keeps (or claims to
delete) the user private key, then CA misbehavior is _undetectable_.

Anyway if you take the WoT view, anyone who may have a conflict of
interest with the CA, or if the CA or it's employees or CPS is of
dubious quality; or who may be a target of CA cooperation with law
enforcement, secrete service etc would be crazy to rely on a CA.  WoT
is the answer so that the trust maps directly to the real world trust.
(Outsourcing trust management seems like a dubious practice, which in
my view is for example why banks do their own security,
thank-you-very-much, and don't use 3rd party CA services).

In this view you use the CA as another link in the WoT but if you have
high security requirements you do not rely much on the CA link.

in the case of SSL domain name certificates ... it may just mean that somebody has been able to hijack the domain name ... and produce enuf material that convinces the CA to issue a certificate for that domain name. recent thread in sci.crypt Convince me that SSL certificates are not a big scam

the common verification used for email address certificates (by certification authorities) ... is to send something to that email address with some sort of "secret" instructions. so the threat model is some sort of attack on email from the CA ... snarf the user's ISP/webmail password and intercept the CA verification email. (it simply falls within all the various forms of identity theft ... and probably significantly simpler than getting a fraudulent driver's license). with the defense that it is possibly another form of identity theft .... say you ever actually stumbled across such a fraudulently issued certificate .... it would probably be difficult to prove whether or not the certification authority was actually involved in any collusion. even discounting that there is no inter-CA certificate duplicate issuing verification .... there are enuf failure scenarios for public/private keys .... that somebody could even convince the same CA to issue a new certificate for the same email address (even assuming that they bothered to check)

Anne & Lynn Wheeler

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