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Re: Draft finding - "Transitioning the Web to HTTPS"

From: Anne van Kesteren <annevk@annevk.nl>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2015 11:15:55 +0100
Message-ID: <CADnb78gNkE+K74b7nariLPiPXB8m4vRyq=wrFPefQFoqr6d1kg@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Henry S. Thompson" <ht@inf.ed.ac.uk>
Cc: Mark Nottingham <mnot@mnot.net>, Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@hsivonen.fi>, Chris Palmer <palmer@google.com>, Noah Mendelsohn <nrm@arcanedomain.com>, "Michael[tm] Smith" <mike@w3.org>, Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>, Public TAG List <www-tag@w3.org>
On Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 10:56 AM, Henry S. Thompson <ht@inf.ed.ac.uk> wrote:
> I'll bite -- what _should_ the UX say?  That is, what _is_ the risk
> (and what is the alternative that MIT should be using)?

You're giving an entity that is not vetted by browsers (see
https://wiki.mozilla.org/CA for what Mozilla requires) full control
over signing certificates for domain names. So e.g. MIT employees with
access can create certificates for your bank and spoof you while
you're on a network under their control (or a network of their

(An extra problem here is that MIT hosts this information on a page
that itself can easily be man-in-the-middled putting those who trust
MIT in danger of downloading the wrong certificate. That the
certificate itself is hosted over TLS does not much as the link to it
can easily be adjusted to point elsewhere.)

> The alternative an entity not a million miles away from my desk
> uses is to just self-sign and expect us to click through the resulting
> warnings. . .

That has the risk of getting man-in-the-middled for that particular
service and might lead to users clicking through such warnings when
they absolutely shouldn't, but at least you're not giving an unvetted
entity control.

Received on Monday, 19 January 2015 10:16:19 UTC

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