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Re: Certificate proposal & X509 clarifications
The Distinguished Name of X509 is NOT intended to be the
unique identifier of a person or a public key. In the X509 world
two different DNs can have the same public key, and a single
DN can have multiple certificates with possibly different
public keys. The same public key naturally appears in multiple
certificates when each certificate is only valid for a certain
period of time (e.g., weekly certificates have been proposed for
applications that do not want to implement revocation lists).
The unique identifier in an X509 certificate is the
DN of the issuer and the serial number that the issuer attached
to the certificate. Both of these fields appear in the version 1 X509
certificate. Of course, this assumes that issuers are
following the rule of not issuing two certificates with the same
The designers of version 1 of the X509 certificate format
have realized that they need to allow issuers to attach all kinds
of different attributes to a public key. This lead to version 3
of the X509 format, which provides for general extensions. Of course,
this means that there is more rope to hang yourself with when it
comes to designing an overall system, but with careful design,
lots of good things can be done.
For example, for the S/MIME secure mail effort, the certificates
include the email address of the owner, as certified by the company
that is providing the email post office (e.g., the employer or
service provider). Note that Netscape Navigator 2.x will support
Version 3 X509 certificates and S/MIME.
Question: what's a good way to have the existing PGP public
key infrastructure interoperate with the X509 infrastructure?