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Re: A novel (?) return address idea
Joe Thomas's proposal for anonymous return addresses is nice:
return_addr = printable_encoding( encrypt( K, (salt, userid) ) )
userid = substring( n, decrypt( K, print_to_binary( return_addr ) ) )
where userid is the remailer's pointer to the real email address / pubkey,
K is a secret key in the remailer, and salt is different for each message.
(printable encoding may need to be monocase for some mailers.)
If you used DES encryption, you could do 32 bits of UID and 32 bits of salt,
you can turn the 64 bits of cyphertext into 13 printable characters using
an obvious 5bit encoding; a good choice for a mailer is to prepend an x
x<13_char_encoding> ( e.g. xabcdefghijklm )
and not have any real UIDs starting with x, so your mail delivery program
can easily tell what to hand to the remailer-reply process and what to
deliver more normally.
Aside from being nice round numbers, this lets you support 4 billion users with
4 billion messages each, but is this really the right balance?
Many users, like x<13rand>@remailer.foo.com, will only send a few messages,
while a few others, like [email protected], will send lots.
Should we perhaps use a Class A - Class B - Class C approach like IP addresses,
with the bits broken up 16/48 - 32/32 - 48/16 or maybe 24/40 - 32/32 - 56/8?
Unlike IP, of course, these address spaces are local only, and the user
probably shouldn't know the userid number - the class is really just advisory.
could be used to request a new / reused userid of class C.
Ideas for the extra-secure implementations:
- it might be interesting to use a separate internal secret key to store
the mapping from (real-email, userid) -> email-publickey.
Hiding the mapping from real-email <-> userid is tougher.
- if you really want longer userid+salts much bigger than this,
you've got to handle email names noticably longer than 16 characters,
or play games with hashing to reduce the size of the email name.
The main motivation would be to use encryption other than DES,
such as a public-key system with blocks longer than 64 bits,
but hashing increases the amount of information you have to store,
and the annoyance of deciding how to age it, avoid overload, etc.
# Bill Stewart [email protected] +1-908-949-0705 Fax-4876
# AT&T Bell Labs, Room 4M-312, Crawfords Corner Rd, Holmdel, NJ 07733-3030