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Re: The CA system is spectacularly broken - can the TAG help?

From: Thomas Roessler <tlr@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2011 11:21:59 +0100
Cc: Thomas Roessler <tlr@w3.org>, www-tag@w3.org
Message-Id: <09F39863-43B9-4996-804A-125943AC7B47@w3.org>
To: Graham Klyne <GK@ninebynine.org>
On 2011-12-20, at 10:25 +0100, Graham Klyne wrote:

> I'm offline as I reply, so I can't offer a link (*), but it's probably worth noting that the IETF currently has a web application security activity with some strong security experts engaged.  IIRC, the group tag is "WebSec".

websec is a group that works closely with the W3C Web Application Security WG.

While things like cert pinning are plausibly in scope for websec, the CA system issue is significantly broader.


--
Thomas Roessler, W3C  <tlr@w3.org>  (@roessler)









> #g
> --
> 
> (*) The following message excerpt should point a path to the right places
> 
> [[
> List-Id: Web Application Security Minus Authentication and Transport
> 	<websec.ietf.org>
> List-Archive: <http://www.ietf.org/mail-archive/web/websec>
> List-Post: <mailto:websec@ietf.org>
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> List-Subscribe: <https://www.ietf.org/mailman/listinfo/websec>,
> 	<mailto:websec-request@ietf.org?subject=subscribe>
> 
> Sorry for delay, I now uploaded minutes from Taipei:
> 
> <http://www.ietf.org/proceedings/82/minutes/websec.txt>
> ]]
> 
> 
> On 19/12/2011 23:44, Harry Halpin wrote:
>> While I understand the CA system is somewhat outside your usual remit,
>> let me add this to your pile of woes. I'm doing this because 1) the
>> system has so stunningly came apart at the seams last year that it
>> seems all parties involved in the Web (ISOC, W3C, etc.) should be
>> actively looking at this issue and 2) there are now three different
>> proposals for fixing this.
>> 
>> There's currently a giant gaping security issue on the Web, namely
>> that the it's quite easy to fake the root certificates of a CA and so
>> compromise  TLS connections - and thus most high-value transactions on
>> the Web in a way that is *very* hard to detect. For a detailed
>> explanation of the problem, Moxie of Whisper Systems has an excellent
>> video [1]. There's been a number of very high-profile compromises,
>> such as the Diginotar [2] and Comodo attacks [3]. Overall, probably
>> problem #1 for security on the Web. It undermines all financial
>> transactions on the Web - I'd bet money Paypal stays awake at night
>> thinking about this. It's also a life and death situation for human
>> rights activists in Syria, Iran, and elsewhere - who may not stay
>> awake another night if the cert for their Gmail or Facebook account is
>> faked.
>> 
>> Now, over the last weeks I've seen about 3 different proposals that
>> are quite serious:
>> 
>> 1) Google's Proposal (Ben Laurie and Adam Langsley): Basically make a
>> public audit log of registered certs, and then the client/domain
>> owners can check their certs versus that log. That probably has some
>> browser component for checking all of this [5].
>> 
>> 2) Sovereign Key proposal from EFF (Peter Eckersley): Similar to
>> Google's proposal but more complex, uses an audit log of a "Sovereign
>> Key" rather than certs [4]
>> 
>> 3) Convergence Proposal from Whisper Systems/Twitter (Moxie
>> Marlinspike): Features a more decentralized CA-like system with
>> user-based "trust agility" where users can choose which CA-like
>> "notary" to trust via browser [6]
>> 
>> At TPAC, I talked to some of the browser team folks about this,
>> everyone agreed the CA/Browser Forum is dysfunctional (i.e. a front
>> for the current broken CA system) and they would be happy to see W3C
>> or someone move in this space [6]. Google notes "We now have an
>> outline of the basic idea and will be continuing to flesh it out in
>> the coming months, hopefully in conjunction with other browser
>> vendors." [5]
>> 
>> So maybe time for W3C to move? While I understand the TAG only makes
>> "findings", I suggest that given the overlap between the Google and
>> EFF proposal, I'm pretty sure there's a solution space going on here
>> even if it's outside of the TAG's expertise, and that solution space
>> will probably involve - browsers, and interaction with the CA/Browser
>> Forum.. Sounds like it's time for W3C to make a move. I'd do an
>> analysis of the topic, but also suggest that this problem is big
>> enough to warrant getting folks together on ASAP.
>> 
>> Who: I'd suggest that we return to the idea of hosting a workshop on
>> this topic, and since it's a large topic, I suggest W3C co-host with
>> the CA/Browser forum and maybe ISOC/IAB.
>> When: Soon as possible.
>> 
>> [1]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7Wl2FW2TcA
>> [2]http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/sep/05/diginotar-certificate-hack-cyberwar
>> [3]http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-20050503-83.html
>> [4]https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/11/sovereign-keys-proposal-make-https-and-email-more-secure
>> [5]http://www.imperialviolet.org/2011/11/29/certtransparency.html
>> [6]http://convergence.io/
>> 
> 
> 
> 
Received on Tuesday, 20 December 2011 10:31:04 GMT

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