RE: Passwords in the Clear

I think that the prevalence of server-side authenticated HTTPS sites for
B2C commerce is so great as to indicate that users can handle it. I
don't know what proportion of the internet's users in countries with
high banking penetration have bought a good, booked a flight, or managed
an account using such technology in the past year, but it must exceed
the number of geeks in the world by a fair few orders of magnitude.

Certificates don't give you high protection from fraudulent endpoints, I
agree, but they give some, and they do give you protection from
observation of data in motion. 

Digest Auth does not require any infrastructure other than implementing
endpoints. Last I checked this would apply for mass-market browsers and
web servers. NTLM is also easily available. Both are non-intrusive from
a user perspective.

Given this, it would be useful to see a more precise description of
additional circumstances (beyond the "stop the bot" in the document)
where P in the C is in fact applicable. 


-----Original Message-----
From: John Cowan [] 
Sent: 13 December 2006 14:17
To: Green, Alastair: IT (LDN)
Subject: Re: Passwords in the Clear scripsit:

> Contrariwise,  a ukase against passwords in the clear seems 
> appropriate because a) it's a gross and inarguable security violation,

> and b) everyone has the equipment to implement the solution, even when

> using free software. Cost = 0, benefit > 0 => no-brainer.

I continue to disagree.  Sometimes passwords in the clear provide just
enough security to be useful without being intrusive, in which case the
benefit of stronger security = 0.  And the cost of HTTPS is still
greater than zero: server operators must either pay for certificates or
use self-certification and deal with nervous customers who worry about
unknown-certifier popups in their browsers, though typical certificates
are about as reliable as self-certificates, that is to say, not at all.

Even the best of friends cannot                 John Cowan
attend each others' funeral.          
        --Kehlog Albran, The Profit
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Received on Thursday, 14 December 2006 12:09:49 UTC