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Re: NetScape's dependence upon RSA down for the count!

In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] (Bill Stewart) writes:
> Or hack the Web of Trust used to verify the server's identity.
> It _is_ still a Web of Trust even if it's a fascistly-hierarchical tree;
> as long as it's possible to get a certificate without heavy contractual
> obligations, you can hack it, since the software has no way to check,
> now that Netscape is being nice and open and allowing non-Verisign certs.
> Remember that anybody can be a CA, and keys can be signed by multiple CAs.
>         Verisign Business CA signs Carol's Certification Consultants' key.
>         Carol signs Bob's Better Browser Business's key.  
>         Bob runs a server, selling really cool web tools.
>         Verisign Business CA signs Moriarty's Mallet Makers' key.
>         Moriarty signs Mr. X's personna key (trust us.)
>         Mr. X makes a key called Bob's Better Browser Business,
>         looking suspiciously like the real thing, only it's
>         signed by Mr. X, and nobody bothered telling Bob about it.
>         Alice, using Netscape, encounter's http://www.Bob'sBetterBrowser.com/,
>         and decides to order a Better Browser.  She gets Bob's public key
>         and X.509 certificates by pressing a button, and receives a key
>         and a pile of certs.  Since it's not a secure session yet, is Mr. X
>         intercepting them and sending her _his_ key and cert for "Bob" and his
>         personna key with cert from Moriarty and his key and cert from Verisign?
>         So Mr. X rips off Alice and/or Bob somewhere here, and Alice decides to sue
>         Bob, who says "Hey, that's not my key, see my real set of certs",
>         so they go off after Mr. X, who they can't find, and then go after
>         Moriarty, who says "Hey, it's just a personna certificate; all I
>         guaranteed was that I didn't sign more than one with the same name on it",
>         which in fact appears to be true, and while after one case you can't 
>         be sure that there really wasn't a Mr. X somewhere, if three or four
>         people start walking in saying Mr. X ripped them off using a key
>         that Moriarty signed, maybe somebody'll think it's a movement...

  You are making a lot of assumptions here.  Lets say that the browser
software is allowing certificate chaining (browser traverses certificate
issuers until it finds one it trusts, then accepts the entire chain).
There could be an attribute in the certificate that indicates whether
the issuer is certifying it to be a subordinate CA.  Presumably when
Moriarty signs a persona certificate, it does not have this attribute.

> Now, X.509 certs don't limit themselves to hierarchical or Web use, and most
> advice on using them recommends limiting the depth of a tree/web that you're
> willing to trust.  Unfortunately, X.509 certs don't even have a comment field,
> much less a standardized "how much do you trust this person you're signing"
> field,
> though I suppose you can cram a bit into the X.400/500-style name formats.

  X509 version 3 does support arbitrary extensions.  We are making use of
this feature in Netscape Navigator 2.0.  Giving certificates attributes
such as "how was their identity verified" and "what operations are they
certified for" is an obvious application of this.


Jeff Weinstein - Electronic Munitions Specialist
Netscape Communication Corporation
[email protected] - http://home.netscape.com/people/jsw
Any opinions expressed above are mine.