On Fri, Feb 24, 2006 at 01:44:14PM +0000, Ben Laurie wrote:

> Ed Gerck wrote:
> > Paul,
> > 
> > Usability should by now be recognized as the key issue for security -
> > namely, if users can't use it, it doesn't actually work.
> > 
> > And what I heard in the story is that even savvy users such as Phil Z
> > (who'd have no problem with key management) don't use it often.
> > 
> > BTW, just to show that usability is king, could you please send me an
> > encrypted email -- I even let you choose any secure method that you want.
> Sure I can, but if you want it to be encrypted to you, then you need to
> publish a key.

More strongly, if we've never met, and you are not in the habit of
routinely signing email, thereby tying a key to your e-persona, it
makes no sense to speak of *secure* communication to *you*. Which "you"
would that be, the one who sent me all those exciting zip files of W32
executables, or the one I think is posting to this list?

The only identity you (who hypothetically do not garnish each message
with a signature) have is your mailbox. I can bootstrap that (with
questionable initial security) to a key via a "private" unencrypted
email message, and over a time as the key is consistently used grow to
associate the key with an on-line persona.

Is such a virtual persona what most people look for in "secure" email? I
think not, rather I think they are looking for secure email for the
eyes of real-world people, and so, in a strong sense ubiquitous secure
mail for the digital world in unattainable, because the underlying human
relationships do not exist. The world of digital relationships is much
broader than the world of personal real-world relationships...

I think that key management (while quite difficult) is not even the real
problem, the more intractable problem appears to be trust management:
how to distinguish a con from the real-thing... This problem is also
applicable to the real-world, but the digital manifestation is more


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