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Re: which to implement?

From: Taher Elgamal <elgamal@netscape.com>
Date: Fri, 10 May 1996 09:05:00 -0700
Message-Id: <3193692C.70D9@netscape.com>
To: Barb Fox <bfox@microsoft.com>
Cc: "'Bennet Yee'" <bsy@cs.ucsd.edu>, "'Phil Karlton'" <karlton@netscape.com>, Tom Stephens <tomste@microsoft.com>, "'Rodney Thayer'" <rodney@sabletech.com>, "'pcttalk@ftp.com'" <pcttalk@ftp.com>, "'ietf-tls@w3.org'" <ietf-tls@w3.org>

Of course we did put in the comments that interested people seemed to agree 
on. However, when you receive conflicting comments from different groups of 
people, it is really hard to go one way or the other and somehow a decision 
needs to be made.

I hope that through our discussions in the next meeting and in the IETF that 
we can resolve those differences that are actually hard to accomodate 
together in a single spec. It is and was always our objective to generate the 
best solutions that meet the fucntionality, security and efficiency (perhaps 
in that order) for the community and we actually did take the initiative to 
go to the IETF to get to the point where we have an industry standard. 
However, as you know the better standards are the ones that have actually 
been implemented and used.

I am expecting that the IETF will actually produce a different protocol from 
the current SSLv3, and always committed to supporting the effort, however, we 
actually have quite a bit of experience in implementing SSL both ourselves 
and by helping others resolve spec ambiguities and we hope that the IETF 
group will take that into consideration. I actually wished that you had 
forwarded the PCT objectives and comments to us before coming out with PCT -- 
perhaps you would have been surprised with our reaction.

The one thing I still do not like is separation of algorithms in defining 
cipherspec. I hope we can come to some agreement.



Barb Fox wrote:
> Phil:
> Well, at least this list is getting lively!  Let me try to address the
> points you made in both your recent posts.
> First:  I know for a fact that Netscape solicited comments on SSLv3
> pre-publication, as an Internet Draft, and moderated SSL-talk.  There
> were plenty of comments and many of these along with some of the work
> we did with PCT are reflected in SSLv3.  ( I point specifically to
> separation of MAC and encryption key lengths and a shorter, more
> efficient handshake message flow which showed up in SSL after PCT was
> published.)  But my real point is that what went in and what didn't was
> primarily a Netscape decision.   As Taher said earlier, you chose from
> the comments you received.  Understandable - SSL is your protocol and
> you've got code to write, after all.
> But now we're at a different stage in the standards-setting process.
>  We're talking about an Internet Standard, and comments/contributions
> should come from the whole Internet community.  Frankly, only a small
> subset really cares, but from what we've seen so far, there are more
> than a few who want to show up in person to work on what will become
> TLS.   We all seem to agree that SSLv3 is a good starting point, but
> the robust discussions on the TLS list point out the need for some
> modifications/improvements before we call it TLSv1.
> This kind of collaboration has got to be the best way to get a
> widely-endorsed (and implemented!) standard quickly.  That's the whole
> reason we're coming and why we're not building a bunker around PCT and
> just defending it.  Why should we all go to the trouble of submitting
> anything to the IETF on the standards track if it isn't better than
> what's already out there - and more important, we all get to choose
> what gets in it?   Interoperability and open change control says it
> all.
> You're also right that we cannot expect a one or two day meeting to
> resolve all of the complex issues raised on the TLS list.  But what we
> can do in this meeting  - and in subsequent discussions on this list -
> is to get more people thinking and commenting. The working group should
> take full ownership of the protocol, and this is a great time to start.
> The meeting is at the Garden Court in Palo Alto on May 29th.  I hope
> you and Taher can be there.
> Barbara Fox
> Microsoft
> ----------
> From:  Phil Karlton[SMTP:karlton@netscape.com]
> Sent:  Thursday, May 09, 1996 2:37 PM
> To:  Bennet Yee
> Cc:  Tom Stephens; 'Rodney Thayer'; 'pcttalk@ftp.com';
> 'ietf-tls@w3.org'
> Subject:  Re: which to implement?
> Bennet Yee wrote:
> >
> > In message <3191A44E.167E@netscape.com>, Phil Karlton writes:
> > >
> > > In what way is SSL 3 not open?
> >
> > AFAIK, the feature set was determined almost solely by Netscape.
> Let me correct that assumption. Features are in SSL 3 that Netscape has
> no plans to use. They are there because those that involved themselves
> in the early design asked for them. (For instance, the anonymous
> Diffie-Helman key exchange is in there to support protocols where MITM
> attacks are not an issue.)
> Public responses to the initial sketches for SSL 3 were coming in as
> early as August, 1995.
> Microsoft has had copies of the spec since at least November, 1995.
> There was been no feedback from Microsoft (asking questions or making
> suggestions) until a completely rewritten spec showed up the month
> after
> final SSL 3.0 spec went out.
> > Certainly, we
> > need to decide how much attention we, as an IETF working group rather
> > than as workers for some particular company or as academics, should
> be
> > pay to the (cost of the) effort already spent.  If we pay too much
> > attention to it, then we might as well disband the working group and
> > just adopt SSLv2.  (Or 3.  Or PCTv1 or 2.  Pick your own poison.)
> I disagree. The output of this working group will not be a protocol
> that
> gets picked once in 1996 and never changes. Even before the March draft
> was finished, consideration was being given as to what was needed for
> 3.1. (Support for attribute certificates was high on that list.) It
> would be good if this group was driving that process.
> What I am arguing for is to take SSL 3.0 as a base and to grow it with
> the features that are needed. Dropping a 35 page counter-proposal onto
> the table containing changes ranging from UDP support to password
> authentication means that efforts will not be focused on the respective
> ideas.
> > Please be careful about your terminology.  A "covert channel" has a
> > very specific meaning to people working in security, and I don't
> think
> > that meaning is what you intended.
> I apologize for using the wrong word at 1:00 am.
> PK
> --
> Philip L. Karlton               karlton@netscape.com
> Principal Curmudgeon            http://home.netscape.com/people/karlton
> Netscape Communications
>      They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little
>      temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
>                 - Benjamin Franklin

Taher Elgamal	    elgamal@netscape.com
Chief Scientist, Netscape Communications
(T) 415 937 2898, (F) 415 428 4054
Received on Friday, 10 May 1996 12:02:16 UTC

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