W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-webid@w3.org > June 2015

Re: a common understanding of profiles

From: Harry Halpin <hhalpin@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 22:58:26 +0200
Message-ID: <558DBCF2.6000900@w3.org>
To: Melvin Carvalho <melvincarvalho@gmail.com>, public-webid <public-webid@w3.org>
Again, I think http URIs and using #s to separate humans and documents
are in general good ideas and support that in RDF-based systems.

However, as the WebID+TLS community in the past has been unable or
unwilling to update or change their  authentication protocol in response
to noted and kinda well-known security/privacy issues with WebID+TLS, so
I'm not sure further discussion is productive on this mailing list.

Regardless of security/privacy issues, as TLS client negotiation is
being dropped in TLS 1.3 due to the triple handshake attack, it's pretty
obvious that WebID+TLS should not be used as a general purpose
authentication protocol in the future as browser support for even how it
works today will be phased out over time.

Rather, the WebID community I would suggest looking at the TLS Token
Binding discussion, or improving WebID+RSA or the FIDO work.

I'm happy to write these well-known issues up and send them to the WG.
If you doubt these points, you may wish to communicate with the TLS WG,
the IETF SAAG, or the W3C WebSec WG to get in touch with folks in
industry and academia who are working on these problems and may have
more time to discuss these issues with you.

Brief links below:

On 06/26/2015 10:25 PM, Melvin Carvalho wrote:
> FYI: I've moved this discussion to public-webid, I hope I can field some of
> the comments / criticisms.
> On 26 June 2015 at 21:51, Harry Halpin <hhalpin@w3.org> wrote:
>> On 06/26/2015 09:22 PM, Melvin Carvalho wrote:
>>> On 26 June 2015 at 19:25, Harry Halpin <hhalpin@w3.org> wrote:
>>>> On 06/26/2015 05:04 PM, Melvin Carvalho wrote:
>>>>> On 26 June 2015 at 14:23, Evan Prodromou <evan@e14n.com> wrote:
>>>>>> On 2015-06-26 07:37 AM, Melvin Carvalho wrote:
>>>>>>> Regarding the URI above.  It can become slightly problematic
>> attaching
>>>>>>> key value pairs to an HTTP document, also doubling as a Person.
>>>>>> I'm pretty sure I didn't do that in the example I gave.
>>>>> Well I thought you were tying (for example) the key "@type" and value
>>>>> "Person" to the http doc : https://evanprodmorou.example/profile
>>>>>>> So, how to get interoperable profiles?
>>>> Note this question was explicitly scoped to the Social Interest Group,
>>>> as obviously profiles are going to vary alot across systems and only the
>>>> most generic pieces of syntax. So, could we move this discussion there?
>>> Thanks, that's good to know.  However I dont think all members here are
>>> members of the IG (im not for example).  To the extent that a common
>>> understanding of profiles is a pre requisite for implementing a social
>> api,
>>> it would be good to get that understood.
>> Anyone can join the IG.
>> Again, the way to solve this is probably to look at Activity Vocabulary
>> carefully first, and then vCard, and then FOAF and see what is missing,
>> then pull requests with proposed modified changes/mapping to Activity
>> Vocabulary.
>>>>>> Pick a data standard, and a way to find the profiles. Then, everybody
>>>>>> implements that.
>>>> +1 good to re-use a well-known standard.  Typically, that would be VCard
>>>> (support across most of the ecosystem), which basically merged with a
>>>> good deal of PortableContacts in VCard 4.0. It's got an XML
>>>> serliazation, it maps to hCard for microformat users, and there's a RDF
>>>> serialization for RDF users (not sure why FOAF didn't closely align
>>>> more, but that could fixed).
>>>> For things that aren't part of core vCard, the IG is empowered to create
>>>> and maintain vocabularies (published as Interest Group Notes), and we
>>>> imagined there would be lots of activity and iterations and maintenance
>>>> of these vocabularies might go beyond the lifetime of the WG. The W3C is
>>>> happy also co-ordinate as needed with schema.org and IETF on these
>> issues.
>>> -1 to vcard, I dont think everyone can be expected to implement that,
>> does
>>> anyone here do that so far?
>>> In general, I think it's unrealistic to propose "one profile standard to
>>> rule them all", unless there's a very strong reason to do so -- but if
>> the
>>> WG wants to go in that direction I would say a stand out candidate is
>> WebID
>>> because
>>> - It's already a documented spec
>>> - It is already based on standards, and is 5 star linked data
>>> - It is already implemented by SoLiD
>>> - It is already implemented by facebook
>>> - It already has about 1 billion profiles, out there
>>> - It provides a discovery mechanism for feeds, followers, friends etc.
>>> Once again, I dont advocate this as being the single choice, I would
>> rather
>>> look for common ground for interop.
>> If by WebID you mean what TimBL means, i.e. identify people using URIs,
>> I am sure almost everyone agrees that using URIs is the way to go. I
>> think there's wide agreement there. I believe Facebook and most sites
>> indeed do that.
>> If by WebID you mean FOAF, see above re mapping FOAF into vCard 4 and
>> Activity Vocabulary and seeing what the diff is. Most of the known world
>> implements vCard and there are very mature libraries for almost all
>> platforms. Convergence between FOAF/ActivityVocabulary/vCard would be
>> great, but should be done in IG. FOAF is not supported natively by
>> Facebook to my knowledge and has very little developer take-up outside
>> the RDF community, although Matt Rowe had some excellent export tools.
> FOAF is not part of webid, but it is used in the examples.  Do you have a
> pointer to the tools you mention?


Might not work any more due to bit rot.

>> Authentication mechanisms such as WebID+TLS is *out of scope* for this
>> WG. Even if it was, the necessary cryptographic and security expertise
>> is clearly not here as well. WebID+TLS is not implemented by Facebook or
>> any other user-facing vendors to my knowledge (Facebook implements, as
>> is widely known, a variant of OpenID Connect i.e. Facebook Connect and
>> my guess will likely support FIDO). People at Facebook, such as Brad
>> Hill and chair of the W3C WebAppSec WG, have come out quite strongly
>> against WebID+TLS.
> Pointer to Brad Hill's comments?


It's been forwarded before without adequate response or change in
protocol about four years ago :(

See Ryan Sleevi (Google) in WebCrypto on cleartext/privacy issues:


More datapoints:


>> To summarize the well-known arguments about why WebID+TLS is considered
>> harmful and thus unlikely to be standardized: From a privacy perspective
>> client certificates send personal data (i.e the URI in the SAN for their
>> WebID profile) in the cleartext, unlike even usernames and passwords
>> over TLS. From a security perspective (see triplehandshake attack) there
>> are so many security bugs in client certificate authentication that it
>> is being deprecated by the IETF in TLS 1.3.
> This comment sounds like flame bait, and is IMHO damaging.  I think, in
> general your hostility towards WebID + TLS is not shared by all at the
> W3C.

It's not hostility, its requests for corrections so you should
fix/change the protocol. WebID+RSA may make more sense (although you
should use a different signing and privacy key - and you may need
key-wrapping, which has some issues in WebCrypto in terms of attack
surfaces) in the long-run if you want a lightweight key authentication

In terms of authentication protocols, for passwords SRP makes a lot of
sense, w/o passowords there is also HOBA at the IETF:

> More than 50% of the population of Estonia use TLS with X.509 to vote, do
> banking and identify themselves.  The system is now being rolled out to
> Finland.
> Does this also fail your personal litmus test?

They do not use TLS client certs or negotiation, they use X.509 certs
transmitted over an already established TLS connection. I've discussed
this with them, and they are actively monitoring WebCrypto and FIDO as
they plan to upgrade their infrastructure when the newer standards are

>> That being said, the general concepts behind something like WebID+TLS
>> (use of proof of key material for authentication) is of interest, and
>> should be discussed in the W3C Web Security Interest Group and the
>> Security Area (SAAG) at the IETF for further evolution, rather than in
>> this WG. In detail, a privacy-preserving technique known as channel
>> binding (i.e. binding authentication to a TLS channel without revealing
>> personal information) is being worked on actively in the TLS Token
>> Binding at the IETF. User-centric authentication with
>> proof-of-possession of key material done using the same-origin policy is
>> currently being developed by the FIDO Alliance, with the backing of
>> Google, Microsoft, Paypal, and others. I suspect authentication without
>> passwords be a solved problem shortly.
>> So, let's remain on topic and focus on what is chartered for the WG.
>> Thanks!
>>    cheers,
>>       harry
>>>>    cheers,
>>>>       harry
>>>>>> It would be wrong to assume that the point of this working group is to
>>>>>> make Melvin's site implemented in FOAF with Turtle talk to Aaron's
>> site
>>>>>> implemented in HTML with microformats.
>>>>> I guess Im not quite seeing it how to implement an interoperable social
>>>> API
>>>>> without interoperable social profiles.  However, Kingley's reply seems
>> to
>>>>> make sense. I'll fwd them to the public list.
>>>>>> We're here for the important goals of defining a social syntax, and
>>>> social
>>>>>> API, and a federation protocol for the seven billion people on the
>>>> entire
>>>>>> planet -- not to build ad hoc bridges for the few dozen people
>>>>>> participating in this group.
>>>>>> Ultimately, that means some people here are going to have to
>> compromise,
>>>>>> hold their nose, and implement a data standard that they don't usually
>>>> use
>>>>>> or like.
>>>>>> -Evan
Received on Friday, 26 June 2015 20:58:30 UTC

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