I have to chime in on a number of points. I'll try to keep commercial plugs to a minimum.

* An awful lot of this discussion is some combination of outdated and true but irrelevant. For example, it is true that usability of all computers is not what it could be. But a lot of what has cruised by here is similar to someone saying, "Yes, usability is atrocious -- here, look at this screenshot of Windows 3.1." Someone else pipes up, "You think that's bad, let me show you this example from the Xerox Alto. What*ever* were they thinking?" And then someone else says, "Yeah, and if you think that's bad, look at what 'ls' did in Unix V6!" Then when someone else says, "Y'know, I'm using the latest version of Firefox, and it's actually pretty good" the next message says, "But what about the Y2K issues, and what happens when in 2038?" I swear, guys, this thread is the crypto version of the Monty Python "Luxury" sketch.

* Whitten and Tygar is a great paper, but it was written ages ago on software that was released in 1997. Things aren't perfect now, but let's talk about what's out there now. Even at the time, one of Whitten's main points is how hard it is to apply usability to security, because of how odd it is. As a very quick example, in most forms of user design, you let exploration take a prominent place. But it doesn't work in security because you can't click undo when you do something you didn't intend.

* There are new generations of crypto software out there. I produce the PGP products, and PGP Desktop and PGP Universal are automatic systems that look up certs use them, automatically encrypt, and even does both OpenPGP and S/MIME.

They're not perfect, and lead to other amusing issues. For example, an hour ago, I was coordinating with someone that I'm meeting at a conference. I got a reply saying, "I'm at the airport and can't decrypt your message from my phone." I hadn't realized that I *had* encrypted my message, because my system and my colleague's system had been doing things for us.

I habitually send most of my email securely, but I don't think about it. My robots take care of it for me. I tune policies, I don't encrypt messages.

If you don't want to use my products, as Ben Laurie pointed out, there's a very nice plugin for Thunderbird called Enigmail that makes doing crypto painless.

* There are also new generations of keyservers out there that work on the issues of the old servers to trim defunct keys, and manage other issues. I have out there the PGP Global Directory. Think of it as a mash-up of a keyserver along with Robot CA concepts and user management goodness adapted from modern mailing list servers like Mailman.

* A number of us are also re-thinking other concepts such as using short-lived certificates based on the "freshness" model to constrain lifecycle management issues.

* There are many challenges remaining. Heck, the fact that people here apparently have not updated their knowledge any time this century is part of the problem. But let me tell you that email encryption is growing, and growing strongly. However, most of the successes are not happening where you see them. They're happening in business, where communities of partners decide they need to do secure email, and then they do. This is another place where things have changed radically. A decade ago, we thought that security would be a grass-roots phenomenon where end-users and consumers would push security into those stodgy businesses. What's happening now is the exact opposite -- savvy businesses are putting together sophisticated security systems, and that's slowly starting to get end-users to wake up.

I'd be happy to discuss at length where things are getting better, where they aren't, and where some issues have been shuffled around. But we do need to talk about what's going on now, not ten years ago.

        Jon






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