W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-xg-webid@w3.org > April 2011

Re: getting past centralization of webid in DNSSec

From: Kingsley Idehen <kidehen@openlinksw.com>
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2011 12:42:48 -0400
Message-ID: <4DA32F88.1060809@openlinksw.com>
To: peter williams <home_pw@msn.com>
CC: 'WebID XG' <public-xg-webid@w3.org>
On 4/11/11 12:09 PM, peter williams wrote:
>
> One of the arguments I hear, is that CAs can be made irrelevant when 
> the DNS naming authority takes on the role of binding a name to a key. 
> This will help webid, therefore -- getting things beyond the assurance 
> limits being encountered today as browser-based trust anchoring 
> systems show their age, under the scale that https is used today.
>
> Poor arguments are made to support this point (based on conventions 
> like: CAs and trust anchoring as seen in browsers can only be used in 
> the piss-poor manner of today, and IETF's PKIX specified constraints 
> don't work). The poor arguments fail to take into consideration that 
> things are piss-poor because of the quality of implementation and 
> level of profile interoperability testing, by unmotivated vendors. 
> Constraints don't "work" mostly, because half the browser just don't 
> implement them. This is a world in which one fails the exam by not 
> turning up to the testing center before the door closes. Poor 
> rhetoricians then blame the exam system, itself!
>
> In Webid land, I see a political compromise coming about, in this 
> space. But, something has to give, as always.
>
> First, I don't mind DNSsec (or stuffing an old DER-encoded self-signed 
> cert in an RR, so DNSsec countersigns the blob). Its just a 
> counter-signature scheme, like 10 others. What I mind is the impact on 
> resilience, survivability, and control -- if one centralizes the 
> counter-signing apparatus. One simply has to shout "wikileaks" -- to 
> remember what happens when the DNS is manipulated by powers that be. 
> Things disappear, globally (until the resilience features are properly 
> used). With CAs being offline from naming authorities and DNS, this 
> doesnt happen with X.509 certs -- BY DESIGN. Obviously, some national 
> security authorities (working on 1960s assumptions about who should 
> have crypto) would like certs to disappear from the public space, just 
> like DNS records.
>
> If we endorse counter-signing by DNS, we need a political re-balancing 
> -- to disrupt the downsides of DNS on resilience metrics.
>
> I like what Kingsley your group is doing, in allowing resolvable 
> webids of the form "https://uriburner.com/?uri=<webid>. This 
> indirection allows uriburner to resolve the authority in the https 
> URI, within <webid>. uriburner may not bother with the DNS or DNSsec 
> as the basis for testing the name. It may use its own replicated store 
> of domain-name -> Ip address mappings. It's a counter-signing 
> authority, perhaps using the counter-signatures of DNSsec but deciding 
> for itself when (and when not) to project forward the naming 
> authorities opinion to the consumer.
>
> I can see webid resolvers working with a world of DNSsec and 
> specifically not DNSsec -- to retain survivability elements from the 
> CA world design for commodity-class browsers. I can imagine queries I 
> issue, as webid consuming resource server, that ask: tell me how the 
> webid validates in several validation models: (i) the assumption that 
> DNSsec is authoritative for domain-names, and (ii) tell me under non 
> DNS-Sec assumptions about the authoritiveness of domain-names.
>
> One might be tempted to say: well doesn't that centralize validation 
> (using n scheme) in the uriburners of the world- thus centralizing 
> (and making them easy subversion points, impacting huge populations a 
> la wikileaks)?
>
> Yes! until we recall that our self-signed certs have multiple SANs, 
> enabling the consuming relying party to be hint-directed to multiple 
> uriburners. Assuming some independence of these validation 
> authorities, it makes it hard to subvert all of them, on a subversion 
> directed at a particular record (a la wikileaks, and US orders on DNS 
> providers).
>
> This means giving up (for https webid) the notion that "only" direct 
> URIs are proper. We have to legitimatize proxy naming of webids, so as 
> to re-balance the downsides of DNS and DNSsec concerning the wider 
> goals of survivability, resilience and provider autonomy, that 
> motivated the design of the current browser-based CA system for 
> name/key bindings (and despite all the whining, works very well).
>

Very well stated!  Those proxy WebID/URIs are granular units of value 
that keep value provider in value chain. Biggest problem in our economic 
systems remains partial attribution i.e., value contributors are 
subjectively discovered since dislocation is happens so easily 
(deliberately or inadvertently). Making a literal Reference to a Subject 
ultimately diminishes Subject place in value networks :-)

Note how people have started to release how Celebs monopolize 
attribution links as retweet clusters develop etc..

I think this post will be a great item for future reference when the 
issue of WebIDs, Branding, Attribution, and Value Networks bubbles up a 
few attention layers.


Kingsley
>


-- 

Regards,

Kingsley Idehen	
President&  CEO
OpenLink Software
Web: http://www.openlinksw.com
Weblog: http://www.openlinksw.com/blog/~kidehen
Twitter/Identi.ca: kidehen
Received on Monday, 11 April 2011 16:43:13 UTC

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