Frank Siebenlist wrote:

Why do the browser companies not care?

I spent a few years trying to interest (at least) one browser vendor with looking at new security problems (phishing) and using the knowledge that we had to solve this (opportunistic cryptography). No luck whatsoever. My view of why it is impractical / impossible to interest the browser vendors in new ideas and new security might be summed as this:

* Browser vendors operate a closed security shop. I think this is because of a combination of things. Mostly, all security shops are closed, and there aren't any good examples of open security shops (at least that I can think of). We see some outreach in the last few years (blogs or lists by some) but they are very ... protected, the moat is still there.

* Browser vendors are influenced heavily by companies, which have strong agendas. Security programmers at the open browsers are often employed by big companies who want their security in. They are not interested in user security. Security programmers need jobs, they don't do this stuff for fun. So it is not as if you can blame them.

* Browser vendors don't employ security people as we know them on this mailgroup, they employ cryptoplumbers. Completely different layer. These people are mostly good (and often very good) at fixing security bugs. We thank them for that! But they are completely at sea when it comes to systemic security failings or designing new systems.

* Which also means it is rather difficult to have a conversation with them. For example, programmers don't know what governance is, so they don't know how to deal with PKI (which is governance with some certificate sugar), and they can't readily map a multi-party failure. OTOH, they know what code is, so if you code it up you can have a conversation. But if your conversation needs non-code elements ... glug glug...

* Browser vendors work to a limited subset of the old PKI book. Unfortunately, the book itself isn't written, with consequent problems. So certain myths (like "all CAs must be the same") have arisen which are out of sync with the original PKI thinking ... and out of sync with reality ... but there is no easy way to deal with this because of the previous points.

* Browser vendors may be on the hook for phishing. When you start to talk in terms like that, legal considerations make people go gooey and vague. Nobody in a browser vendor can have that conversation.

Which is all to say ... it's not the people! It's the assumptions and history and finance and all other structural issues. That won't change until they are ready to change, and there are only limited things that outsiders can do.

Just a personal opinion.


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