W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-wsc-wg@w3.org > January 2008

RE: Is the padlock a page security score?

From: William Eburn <weburn@hisoftware.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 15:14:02 -0500
Message-ID: <971382EDCC4412499881ACB0740B84219CFBFE@BE20.exg3.exghost.com>
To: "Serge Egelman" <egelman@cs.cmu.edu>, "Anil Saldhana" <Anil.Saldhana@redhat.com>
Cc: <michael.mccormick@wellsfargo.com>, <ifette@google.com>, <hahnt@us.ibm.com>, <public-wsc-wg@w3.org>

Hello all,

As related to the padlock, everyone I know (which shouldn't be the gauge
for any decision) knows what the padlock means.  This is probably (and
this is a guess) due to the number of years that it's been out there.
So, with this in mind I just walked around my company and I asked if
everyone knew what the big show was in Vegas this week.  One person
knew.  I used this example because CES is being advertised worldwide in
every venue.  So everyone isn't aware of it when it is happening.  To
get rid of the padlock in its entirety, you would run for a period of
time where people didn't know there was a change.  You would also be
wasting, lots of years of education.  So I would vote that we keep the
padlock, there is nothing wrong with augmenting it (As long as it's not
some security score).

Bill 



-----Original Message-----
From: public-wsc-wg-request@w3.org [mailto:public-wsc-wg-request@w3.org]
On Behalf Of Serge Egelman
Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2008 2:55 PM
To: Anil Saldhana
Cc: michael.mccormick@wellsfargo.com; ifette@google.com;
hahnt@us.ibm.com; public-wsc-wg@w3.org
Subject: Re: Is the padlock a page security score?


No, what I'm saying is that any passive indicator for this purpose will 
have the same fate as the SSL padlock: 99% of users will not notice it, 
distrust it, or misunderstand it.  That 1% who does look for it will 
generally be savvy users who are in a lower risk group to begin with.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, my point is that this indicator is 
not something for the masses.

I would opt for recommending this icon to replace the SSL indicator. 
It'll be useful for the savvy users.  And when it hits a certain risk 
threshold, use that data to throw up a full-screen warning, which will 
be useful to the other 99%.  Of course, these warnings should only 
appear when there really is certain danger, otherwise users get 
habituated and begin ignoring them in the future.


serge

Anil Saldhana wrote:
> Serge, what you say makes perfect sense from usability
perspective(also 
> drawing inspiration from the recent discussion on pop-up dialog boxes 
> between Ian and me) - people will tend to ignore when there are 
> indicators that consistently show their favorite sites to have low
scores.
> 
> But does that mean that we should not recommend additional indicators?
> 
> I do not agree on the throwing up of danger warnings once in a while 
> without an associated (passive) indicator. At least the user will have

> an opportunity to figure out the danger warning emanated from this 
> indicator that was dormant but has suddenly woken up to throw this
warning.
> 
> Serge Egelman wrote:
>>
>> In that case the best scenario for a website is that it gets a medium

>> setting?  I can tell you right now that's a nonstarter.  Based on 
>> empirical evidence we know that users will become habituated and stop

>> paying attention to the indicator when it constantly tells them that 
>> websites they frequent "might not be trustworthy."
>>
>>  From a practical standpoint, if the scores range from "danger" to 
>> "unknown," why show the passive indicator at all?  Instead, when it 
>> hits "danger," throw up a warning.  This is far more effective in 
>> practice.
>>
>> serge
>>
>> michael.mccormick@wellsfargo.com wrote:
>>> If you feel the available variables only give half the security 
>>> picture, I suppose your UA could define a scoring algorithm that 
>>> never returns a value higher than 50.
>>>
>>>
------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> *From:* Ian Fette [mailto:ifette@google.com]
>>> *Sent:* Thursday, January 10, 2008 1:09 PM
>>> *To:* McCormick, Mike
>>> *Cc:* hahnt@us.ibm.com; public-wsc-wg@w3.org
>>> *Subject:* Re: Is the padlock a page security score?
>>>
>>> I don't know about useless, but I worry a *lot* about giving a false

>>> sense of security. There could be a site using DNSSEC and an
EV-cert, 
>>> that is hosted on some crappy shared server that uses a MySQL 3 
>>> database and we would give it a 100. That's disturbing to me because

>>> it would be very misleading and provide a very false sense of
security.
>>>
>>> On Jan 10, 2008 11:04 AM, <michael.mccormick@wellsfargo.com 
>>> <mailto:michael.mccormick@wellsfargo.com>> wrote:
>>>
>>>     I agree.  I like the weather analogy.  There's no perfect
security
>>>     indicator.  But the more variables an indicator takes into
account
>>>     the more it approaches the asymptote.
>>>          I guess the alternative would be to throw up our hands and 
>>> say all
>>>     security context indicators are useless.
>>>
>>>     
>>>
------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>     *From:* public-wsc-wg-request@w3.org
>>>     <mailto:public-wsc-wg-request@w3.org>
>>>     [mailto:public-wsc-wg-request@w3.org
>>>     <mailto:public-wsc-wg-request@w3.org>] *On Behalf Of *Timothy
Hahn
>>>     *Sent:* Thursday, January 10, 2008 12:54 PM
>>>
>>>     *To:* public-wsc-wg@w3.org <mailto:public-wsc-wg@w3.org>
>>>     *Subject:* RE: Is the padlock a page security score?
>>>
>>>
>>>     Hi all,
>>>
>>>     This whole discussion is subjective.  What is useful for one
person
>>>     could very well be useless to someone else.
>>>
>>>     An analogy - weather forecasts about the possibility of rain
today.
>>>      Does such a score indicate whether I will get rained on?  No.
Does
>>>     it help me decide whether or not to wear a hat or carry an
umbrella?
>>>      Yes.  There is no way that people other than meteorologists
(and
>>>     some would argue, even them) will accurately interpret isobars,
>>>     cloud patterns, and doppler radar to determine whether it will
rain.
>>>      But people can get a feeling for the chances of rain based on a
>>>     0-100% estimate.
>>>
>>>     I think the same is true for the notion of a page security
score.
>>>      Does it imply that the user will definitely, without a doubt,
not
>>>     get "taken"?  No.  Does it give the user something with which to
>>>     make a choice?  Yes.  In this light, I still feel that page
security
>>>     scores are good things to consider.
>>>
>>>     Regards,
>>>     Tim Hahn
>>>     IBM Distinguished Engineer
>>>
>>>     Internet: hahnt@us.ibm.com <mailto:hahnt@us.ibm.com>
>>>     Internal: Timothy Hahn/Durham/IBM@IBMUS
>>>     phone: 919.224.1565     tie-line: 8/687.1565
>>>     fax: 919.224.2530
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>     From:     <michael.mccormick@wellsfargo.com
>>>     <mailto:michael.mccormick@wellsfargo.com>>
>>>     To:     <ifette@google.com <mailto:ifette@google.com>>,
>>>     <Anil.Saldhana@redhat.com <mailto:Anil.Saldhana@redhat.com>>
>>>     Cc:     Timothy Hahn/Durham/IBM@IBMUS, <public-wsc-wg@w3.org
>>>     <mailto:public-wsc-wg@w3.org>>,
<Mary_Ellen_Zurko@notesdev.ibm.com
>>>     <mailto:Mary_Ellen_Zurko@notesdev.ibm.com>>
>>>     Date:     01/10/2008 01:34 PM
>>>     Subject:     RE: Is the padlock a page security score?
>>>
>>>
>>>     
>>>
------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>     I would ask the same question about a binary indicator.  The
padlock
>>>     does not mean it's safe to enter a credit card.
>>>
>>>     
>>>
------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>     *From:* Ian Fette [mailto:ifette@google.com] *
>>>     Sent:* Thursday, January 10, 2008 12:26 PM*
>>>     To:* Anil Saldhana*
>>>     Cc:* McCormick, Mike; hahnt@us.ibm.com
<mailto:hahnt@us.ibm.com>;
>>>     public-wsc-wg@w3.org <mailto:public-wsc-wg@w3.org>;
>>>     Mary_Ellen_Zurko@notesdev.ibm.com
>>>     <mailto:Mary_Ellen_Zurko@notesdev.ibm.com>*
>>>     Subject:* Re: Is the padlock a page security score?
>>>
>>>     I still don't understand what anything beyond a binary result is
>>>     supposed to tell a user. I'm on a site with "Medium" security -
what
>>>     does that mean? Does that mean that I should give them my credit
>>>     card or not?
>>>
>>>     On Jan 10, 2008 10:00 AM, Anil Saldhana
<_Anil.Saldhana@redhat.com_
>>>     <mailto:Anil.Saldhana@redhat.com>> wrote:
>>>
>>>     Maybe there is an opportunity to associate "High/Medium/Low" or
>>>     "Strong/Medium/Low" based on page security score with the
padlock.
>>>     _
>>>     __michael.mccormick@wellsfargo.com_
>>>     <mailto:michael.mccormick@wellsfargo.com> wrote:
>>>      > Sure, I agree the padlock is a binary representation of a
boolean
>>>     security
>>>      > score formula based on a single security variable (SSL on
main
>>>     page).  A
>>>      > degenerate case IMHO - but still technically a page security 
>>> score.
>>>      >
>>>      > A security score algorithm should take into account most (if
not
>>>     all) of the
>>>      > variables we enumerated under "What is a Secure Page?"
Perhaps
>>>     the note
>>>      > should state that explicitly.  Then padlocks wouldn't
qualify.
>>>      >
>>>      >   _____
>>>      >
>>>      > From: _public-wsc-wg-request@w3.org_
>>>     <mailto:public-wsc-wg-request@w3.org>
>>>     [mailto:_public-wsc-wg-request@w3.org_
>>>     <mailto:public-wsc-wg-request@w3.org>] On
>>>      > Behalf Of Timothy Hahn
>>>      > Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2008 10:40 AM
>>>      > To: _public-wsc-wg@w3.org_ <mailto:public-wsc-wg@w3.org>
>>>      > Subject: Re: Is the padlock a page security score?
>>>      >
>>>      >
>>>      >
>>>      > Mez,
>>>      >
>>>      > I'll toss in my view that the padlock is an example of a page
>>>     security
>>>      > score.  In most user agents, this seems to be pretty much
>>>     "binary" (on or
>>>      > off) though I think we've heard from some folks that there
are 
>>> some
>>>      > "embellishments" on their display of the icon which would
provide
>>>     more
>>>      > gradations based on information received.
>>>      >
>>>      > On the bright side of such a visible item - it is relatively 
>>> easy to
>>>      > describe and for people to grasp the meaning of.
>>>      >
>>>      > On the down side of the padlock -  ... well, we've had lots
of 
>>> that
>>>      > discussion on this list already - see the archives.
>>>      >
>>>      > Regards,
>>>      > Tim Hahn
>>>      > IBM Distinguished Engineer
>>>      >
>>>      > Internet: _hahnt@us.ibm.com_ <mailto:hahnt@us.ibm.com>
>>>      > Internal: Timothy Hahn/Durham/IBM@IBMUS
>>>      > phone: 919.224.1565     tie-line: 8/687.1565
>>>      > fax: 919.224.2530
>>>      >
>>>      >
>>>      >
>>>      >
>>>      > From:         "Mary Ellen Zurko"
>>>     <_Mary_Ellen_Zurko@notesdev.ibm.com_
>>>     <mailto:Mary_Ellen_Zurko@notesdev.ibm.com>>
>>>      >
>>>      > To:   _public-wsc-wg@w3.org_ <mailto:public-wsc-wg@w3.org>
>>>      >
>>>      > Date:         01/10/2008 11:10 AM
>>>      >
>>>      > Subject:      Is the padlock a page security score?
>>>      >
>>>      >   _____
>>>      >
>>>      >
>>>      >
>>>      >
>>>      >
>>>      > If not, why not?
>>>      >
>>>      >          Mez
>>>      >
>>>      >
>>>      >
>>>      >
>>>      >
>>>
>>>     --
>>>     Anil Saldhana
>>>     Project/Technical Lead,
>>>     JBoss Security & Identity Management
>>>     JBoss, A division of Red Hat Inc._
>>>     __http://labs.jboss.com/portal/jbosssecurity/_
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
> 

-- 
/*
PhD Candidate
Vice President for External Affairs, Graduate Student Assembly
Carnegie Mellon University

Legislative Concerns Chair
National Association of Graduate-Professional Students
*/




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Received on Thursday, 10 January 2008 20:14:52 UTC

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