[cryptography] Gmail and SSL

ianG iang at iang.org
Sun Dec 16 02:52:37 EST 2012

On 16/12/12 02:41 AM, Ben Laurie wrote:
> On Sat, Dec 15, 2012 at 10:01 PM, James A. Donald <jamesd at echeque.com> wrote:
>> On 2012-12-16 6:23 AM, Andy Steingruebl wrote:
>>> given some of the more recent attacks against Google (and Facebook's)
>>> customers they believe that active MiTM is actually a real threat, and would
>>> rather not pretend to protect you from it when they aren't, by using a
>>> self-signed certificate that they haven't verified in any way, even by you
>>> presenting it.
>> Recent MITM attacks have been by entities that are likely to be able to
>> coerce a CA.
> This is why you need Certificate Transparency.

Actually, we need a secure and private authentication system.  If I was 
reading that in Gmail I'd suppose that it would transparently link to here:


;)  As you say, that idea is a research idea.  We can only want it, we 
cannot need it.  I see several issues (4).

Just looking at CAcert, by way of counter example.  CAcert does not 
publish its certificates because of privacy.  That's actually quite a 
strong result, and hard to avoid [1].  If one looks at Bitcoin or the 
recent many efforts to track all certificates, this represents a gold 
mine of datamining opportunities.  Do our customers really want their 
security model to become a public spectacle?

Also (2), the notion that an auditor would be a fair arbiter of what the 
public wants is dead in the water.  It's a non-starter.  Also (3), as 
you acknowledge, getting the CAs to change anything is difficult, the 
OODA cycle is estimable at about a decade.

Which (thinking aloud) leaves cryptographic proofs that test the audit 
claim needed, without revealing the certificate body.  But that's a 
fairly tough burden.  Proving that my certificate is in the chain seems 
doable.  But what we are trying to prove is that every certificate is in 
the chain.  Without seeing every certificate.

Or more importantly, we want to prove that a certificate found in an 
MITM was in the chain or not.

But (4) we already have that, in a non-cryptographic way.  If we find a 
certificate that is apparently signed by say VeriSign root and was found 
in an MITM, we can simply publish it with the facts.  Verisign are then 
encouraged to disclose (a) it was ours, (b) it wasn't ours, or (c) 


[1] Byzantinely again, a CA has to avoid privacy to some extent as the 
PKI architecture is a privacy disaster.

More information about the cryptography mailing list