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Re: Semantics of HTTPS

From: Adrien W. de Croy <adrien@qbik.com>
Date: Mon, 06 Aug 2012 22:39:09 +0000
To: "Mark Nottingham" <mnot@mnot.net>, "Willy Tarreau" <w@1wt.eu>
Cc: "ietf-http-wg@w3.org Group" <ietf-http-wg@w3.org>
Message-Id: <em41c9c24e-0dfd-4d37-822b-96bfe2fb7ebb@bombed>

I think we need to be clear what we are doing when we apply logic such 

1. TLS / HTTPS was not designed for inspection
2. therefore any inspection is a hack
3. therefore we should not allow/sanitise it

One could argue that 1. was a design failure (failure to cover all 
requirements), and that it should just be fixed.  

One could also argue that hacks have as much right to be accepted as 
anything else.  They exist for a purpose.

The real world REQUIRES inspection capability, for various reasons.

We can either ignore that requirement, and carry on with our arms race, 
or come to some mutual agreement on how to deal with the very real and 
in many (if not most) cases entirely legitimate requirement.

At the moment, it's starting to look uglier and uglier.  Major sites 
such as FB / Google move to TLS (maybe just to reduce blockage at 
corporate firewalls?).

I can't count how many customers ask me a week how to block https sites 
esp FB, gmail, youtube and twitter.  It's pointless arguing whether 
someone should do this or not, we don't pay for their staff down-time.

So we have MITM code in the lab.  Many others have deployed already.

Next step if a site wants to do something about that is maybe start to 
use client certificates.  

Anyone here from the TLS WG able to comment on whether there are plans 
to combat MITM in this respect?  It's interesting to see the comment 
about recent TLS WG rejection of support for inspection.

At the end of the day, the requirement is not going away, and it's only 
my opinion, but I think we'd get something that 

a) works a lot better (more reliably)
b) better reflects reality and allows users to make informed choices

if we actually accepted the reality of this requirement and designed 
for it.  IMO b actually results in more security.  

As for the issue of trust, this results in a requirement to trust the 
proxy.  We don't have a system that does not require any trust in any 
party.  We trust the bank with our money, we trust the CA to properly 
issue certificates and to ensure safe keeping of their private keys.  
Most people IME are quite happy to have their web surfing scanned for 
viruses.  I don't see a problem with some real estate on a browser 
showing that they are required to trust the proxy they are using, or 
don't go to the site. 

Otherwise you have to inspect the certificate of every secure and 
sensitive site you go to in order to check if it's signed by who you 
expect (e.g. a CA instead of your proxy).  It's completely unrealistic 
to expect users to do that, and history has shown that educating 
end-users about the finer points of security is not easily done.


------ Original Message ------
From: "Mark Nottingham" <mnot@mnot.net>
To: "Willy Tarreau" <w@1wt.eu>
Cc: "ietf-http-wg@w3.org Group" <ietf-http-wg@w3.org>
Sent: 7/08/2012 9:16:48 a.m.
Subject: Re: Semantics of HTTPS
>On 06/08/2012, at 4:14 PM, Willy Tarreau <w@1wt.eu> wrote:
>>>Right. That's a big change from the semantics of HTTPS today, though; right
>>>now, when I see that, I know that I have end-to-end TLS.
>>No, you *believe* you do, you really don't know. That's clearly the problem
>>with the way it works, man-in-the middle proxies are still able to intercept
>>it and to forge certs they sign with their own CA and you have no way to know
>>if your communications are snooped or not.
>It's a really big logical leap from the existence of an attack to changing the fundamental semantics of the URI scheme. And, that's what a MITM proxy is -- it's not legitimate, it's not a recognised role, it's an attack. We shouldn't legitimise it.
>Mark Nottingham
Received on Monday, 6 August 2012 22:39:33 UTC

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