[linux-elitists] Casual Encryption

Aaron Lehmann aaronl@vitelus.com
Wed Jul 10 16:19:02 PDT 2002

On Wed, Jul 10, 2002 at 03:51:00PM -0700, Aaron T Porter wrote:
> 	I completely agree! My goal here is not true security, it's to
> make it non-trivial for the US Government or some other organization to
> sniff SMTP traffic off the network. A much better goal would certainly
> be to get users switched to GnuPG or similar, but that's a windmill I'm
> not ready to tilt with.

I wonder how complicated it would be to make a flag MUA's could pass
to an MTA advising it to *NOT* use TLS for a certain message. For
things like GPG-encrypted messages, TLS seems like a waste of cycles.

That said, it's not that drastic, and there would even be some
possible benefits of using TLS even on already-encrypted messages,
such as masking the address of the sender and the recipient.

However, there are several things I'd like to see in SMTP which IMHO
are far more valuable than point-to-point encryption:

- Compression. Most messages are just a few pages of ASCII text. So
  are their headers. Can you imagine what transparent compression as
  part of SMTP could do to reduce mail bandwidth? It would be very
  useful for mailing lists.

- Decent authentication. In today's harsh world, opening up your mail
  server to anybody on a large subnet is no longer acceptable. Has
  anybody tried SMTP AUTH? Is it a decent solution?

- XML. Just kidding.

Anyway, I'll probably end up going through the trouble of enabling TLS
under exim on my servers to protect my friends, family, and clients,
and also to give Ashcroft the finger.

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