W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-webappsec@w3.org > February 2016

Re: Using client certificates for signing

From: Anders Rundgren <anders.rundgren.net@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 2016 05:45:41 +0100
To: Mitar <mmitar@gmail.com>, "public-webappsec@w3.org" <public-webappsec@w3.org>
Message-ID: <56CBE3F5.70505@gmail.com>
Hi Mitar,

The W3C (or rather Google and Facebook), have unilaterally decided that the
eID use case (using a single certificate/key to login and sign to unrelated
parties/domains) is in conflict with the Web security and privacy model and
are therefore removing support for this feature step by step.

The first step was removing the support for plugins. The "<keygen>" tag you
mention is also considered "evil" and is now about to go:

Microsoft have already removed their counterpart from the "Edge" browser.

Nowadays the browser vendors recommend using FIDO alliance schemes which were
explicitly designed for the Web: https://fidoalliance.org/

However, the eID use-case is alive and kicking, it has only moved to the "App" world
where it (through the use of rather slimy OOB-schemes) continues to provide valuable
services to millions of users on a daily basis.  In the latest incarnation of the
Swedish "Mobile BankID", you cannot only login (and sign) to hordes of public sector
e-services and a bunch of banks, but transfer money to 40-50% of the population
using a phone number only. All powered by a single mobile eID.

We have probably not yet got the entire story; when Google needed a way to extend
the Web in Android they just added it and without any opposition whatsoever so it
is provably doable :-)


On 2016-02-23 00:27, Mitar wrote:
> Hi!
> I tried some more information about the lack of APIs to access client
> certificates from the web applications, and found this position paper:
> https://www.w3.org/2012/webcrypto/webcrypto-next-workshop/papers/Using_the_W3C_WebCrypto_API_for_Document_Signing.html
> But not much more. I wonder why there is no API to really do something
> useful with those certificates inside web applications. There is
> <keygen> HTML tag to generate it, but there is no <keysign> for
> example that one could sign the content of the form.
> I know that some European countries use state provided certificates to
> their citizens, but the lack of APIs in browsers require them to use
> special extensions, which complicate their use even more. Is it
> possible that the lack of relevant APIs is because client side
> certificates have not found mainstream use in industry?
> What should be done to move this further? Maybe create <keysign> tag,
> maybe allow getting key for signing to be used by web crypto API?
> Mitar
Received on Tuesday, 23 February 2016 04:46:29 UTC

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