[linux-elitists] SWOT (formerly "Phil Zimmermann on key exchange")

Paul Holman pablos@kadrevis.com
Fri Dec 14 00:38:50 PST 2001


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All, please forgive the cross-posting, I haven't been following any of 
these lists recently, but have a vested interest in this conversation 
and would like to be CC'd on this thread in the future.

First, can somebody please send me a reference for this alleged "Robot 
CA" article so I can read it.

Second, since there appears to be some interest in addressing "informal 
key exchange," I'd like to propose a simple and effective solution - The 
Semiautomatic Web of Trust (SWOT).

SWOT extends the existing PGP Web of Trust by making keysigning far more 
promiscuous.  Based on the tenet that we build trust in keys by using 
them, SWOT calls for PGP implementations to track the usage of a key, 
and at some user-defined threshold, sign the key (with an attribute that 
indicates it was signed in this manner).  At some other user-defined 
threshold, my client can upload this signed key to the keyservers.  In 
this way, the web of trust will be expanded extensively without 
requiring much if any user intervention.  The existing key-exchange 
protocols (reading fingerprints) are always available to those who need 
them.

I also look forward to redeployment of Stuart Stubblebine's PGP 
Pathfinder or equivalent.  A graphical representation of the degrees of 
separation in PGP goes a long way toward increasing usability of this 
lossy web of trust.

I support the standardization of a X-My-PGP-Key type mail header, though 
clients should be able to go find keys based on signatures anyway.

On Fri, Dec 07, 2001 at 11:42:26PM -0800, Seth David Schoen wrote:
> (1) What's the best design for an "informal key exchange" scheme in
> which active MITM attacks may be permitted, but privacy against
> passive wiretapping (as well as trivial impersonation attacks) is
> maintained?  How can this be implemented with the smaller amount of
> user interface, while maintaining the largest amount of compatibility
> in both directions with existing e-mail privacy systems for
> sophisticated users?

The Semiautomatic Web of Trust is the solution you seek!  If you don't 
agree, please tell me why.

> (2) What's the best way to get such a system designed and deployed to
> the general public?  How can an organization like EFF best help
> accomplish this?  Whose help do we need?

My goal is to produce a best practices RFP that defines an attribute in 
OpenPGP for this purpose, and then seek support from the various 
implementers of OpenPGP.  I think the EFF is well situated to garner 
support from these developers by supporting SWOT as a means of improving 
PGP usability.

Let the flames begin, but don't forget to CC me directly.

Thanks, pablos.
- --
Paul Holman
Kadrevian Nonlinear Accelerator
pablos@kadrevis.com
415.420.3806
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