It's fashionable in some circles (including, it seems, this one) to bash IPsec (particularly IKE) and tout SSL VPNs (particularly OpenVPN) on what are basically user interface grounds.
I cannot help repeatedly noting that -- I believe more so than with actual IPsec deployments, whether with or without IKE -- OpenVPN deployments are often configured in hideously insecure ways. This is no more the fault of OpenVPN's designers, of course, than the ghastly configuration interfaces imposed by many IKE impledmentations are the fault of IPsec's designers. See, for example, http://doc.pfsense.org/index.php/VPN_Capability_OpenVPN which is the official documentation from the popular "pfsense" firewall/NAT/VPN package on configuring OpenVPN for use with clients. Of particular note: 1) It is not possible to configure a list of expected identities of users; rather, just a CA which must sign for all users. 2) No CRL is configured, nor do the instructions say to do so, though it is possible. 3) The client and server certificates come from the same CA, and both client and server get configured with *only the CA certificate*, not the subject name of the expected peer. This is, of course, a serious security hole all of its own, since it allows any client to conduct an MITM attack and impersonate the server. 4) Instructions are given for using a package called "EasyRSA" to set up a CA and create and sign keys. These instructions have several severe flaws of their own: a) They generate client public and private keys *on the CA* rather than using client generation and proper certificate signing requests. This poses a needless risk of private key compromise, which is, in fact, particularly likely, since b) The instructions mention only in passing that oh, by the way, one might want to encrypt the client's new private key, and that one _could_ do so -- but the example does not, in fact, encrypt the key. Anecdotally I have heard of a few users of this combination of software packages (OpenVPN/pfsense/ EasyRSA) who bother to encrypt the private keys they send to users -- but quite a few more who just ship them around plaintext, since the example does so. c) No documentation at all is given of how to revoke a key, nor why one would want to do so. 5) No explanation whatsoever is given of the compromises made in the process of "simplifying" the configuration of this VPN software -- which are significant and have major security consequences. The upshot is that, indeed, at least as shown here, this particular configuration frontend to OpenVPN is very easy to configure -- if you are willing to settle for much less security than OpenVPN was designed to provide, and much less than, if you're naive about cryptography, you probably think you're getting. Gee, that's funny, that's one of the problems with IPsec implementations that people always cite when they tout SSL VPNs (the other is that some firewalls can't be configured to pass IP protocol 50 for ESP -- but, of course, ESP can be tunneled in UDP, in a standard way, and that's been true for years now). I am left with the strong suspicion that SSL VPNs are "easier to configure and use" because a large percentage of their user population simply is not very sensitive to how much security is actually provided. Someone said "have a firewall", they set up a firewall. Someone says "I can't get in through the firewall, set up a VPN", they set up a VPN. For their purposes IP over DNS might serve just as well -- and if enough other people said it was secure, they'd probably get all defensive if you said it wasn't, at least not how they'd configured it. One could think of it, I suppose, as a combination of drinking the Kool Aid and buying the snake oil -- drinking the snake oil? Whatever one calls it one should be very careful of its effects on the popular consciousness when trying to understand what user preferences for this security product over that one actually mean. Thor --------------------------------------------------------------------- The Cryptography Mailing List Unsubscribe by sending "unsubscribe cryptography" to [EMAIL PROTECTED]