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Re: Making it more difficult to forge cancels (was: Re: FORGED CANCELS of posts on n.a.n-a.m)

In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] (Lars Wirzenius) writes:
>[email protected] (Dr. Dimitri Vulis) suggests that cancels be authenticated
>so that only the actual poster could cancel them.  He notes that this
>would make it impossible for moderators to cancel forgeries, but says
>they could use NoCeM notices instead.
>Speaking as the moderator of comp.os.linux.announce: No way!
>NoCeM doesn't work, since most people have never even heard of it.
[Valid criticisms of NoCeM skipped]
>(Approval forging can fairly easily be made very difficult: the moderator
>digitally signs the articles, and all major news servers are fixed to
>drop all other articles on the floor.  The problems with this approach
>are that on the one hand, upgrading a lot of news servers to the new
>software is a bit of work, and on the other hand, even digital signatures
>may be, or become illegal in parts of the world.  But that just might
>be a reason to implement it now.  There's work being done on it, as a
>matter of fact.)

Sorry for the belated follow-up -- I was far away, and now have a backlog to
sort out.

I've discussed the Hujskonen-Franz proposal some time ago with the beautiful
Simona Nass from Panix and the Society for Electronic Access, and she made the
following suggestion: let each party that wants to be able to authorize cancels
add their own separate Cancel-lock: headers. The cancel/supersede should be
honored if its Cancel-key header matches any one of the Cancel-lock challenges.

I think adding multiple Cancel-lock: headers, any single one of which needs to
be matched, to the Hujskonen-Franz proposal will address _some of the concerns
expressed by Bill Stewart last week, by Lars Wirzenius, and by CancelMoose
him/herself in http://www.cm.org/about-cancels.html about the ability of
moderators to cancel postings in their own newsgroups.

Scenario 1.

Alice posts an article from a computer owned by Bob, an Internet provider.
Bob wants to reserve the right to cancel Alice's account and Alice's Usenet
postings without Alice's permission if Alice misbehaves (e.g., spams).

Alice posts:
]From: [email protected]'s.box
]Newsgroups: alt.sex
]Subject: Call me at 1-800-xxx-xxxx for a good time
]Message-id: X ([email protected]'s.box)
]Cancel-Lock: M2_a

where M2_a is the one-way H(X + M1_a), and M1_a is H of the article and of
Alice's secret passphrase.

Bob, being the sysadmin and the owner of his box, configures his news-posting
software to add automatically a second challege, in addition to Alice's:

]Cancel-Lock: M2_b

where M2_b is the one-way H(X + M1_b), and M1_b is H of Alice's article and of
_Bob's secret passphrase.

Bob asks Alice nicely to cancel the article, since such ads are not appropriate
on alt.sex. Alice may comply and issue a cancel with the header

]Cancel-Key: M1_a

which will be honored. But if Alice refuses, Bob can issue a cancel/supersede
with the header:

]Cancel-Key: M1_b

which should likewise be honored because H(X + M1_b) matches one of the two
challenges in the posted article.

Note 1: If Alice doesn't add a Cancel-Lock, and Bob does, then Alice won't be
able to cancel her own article.

Note 2: It may be a good idea to put comments on the challenges:

]From: [email protected]'s.box
]Newsgroups: alt.sex
]Subject: Call me at 1-800-xxx-xxxx for a good time
]Message-id: X
]Cancel-Lock: M2_a ; [email protected]'s.box
]Cancel-Lock: M2_b ; [email protected]'s.box

Scenario 2.

Alice submits an article to Bob, a moderator of a moderated newsgroup:

]Newsgroups: rec.food.cannibalism
]Subject: How to cook elementary school children
]Message-id: X
]Cancel-Lock: M2_a

where M2_a again is H(X + M1_a), and M1_a is H of the article and of Alice's
secret passphrase.

Bob, being either the sole moderator, or a team member, adds an approval and a
second challege, in addition to Alice's:

]Approved: Bob
]Cancel-Lock: M2_b

where M2_b is the one-way H(X + M1_b), and M1_b is H of Alice's article and of
a secret passphrase used by Bob or by the entire moderating team.

Later Bob can cancel this article by specifying
]Cancel-Key: M1_b
Alice too can cancel this article by specifying
]Cancel-Key: M1_a
(unless Bob has stripped Alice's challenge before posting her submission)
and Alice's sysadmin can cancel it too if he added his own challenge (third).

I personally don't think that Bob should be allowed to cancel Alice's article
after he approved it, but that's between Alice and Bob; if she doesn't like it
either, she can post her articles elsewhere.

Now, if Alice injects an article with "Approved:" and entirely bypasses Bob,
(Lars Wirzenius's main conern), then Bob should post a PGP-signed NoCeM notice
and try to yank Alice's feed, or have the site that continues to permit Alice
to do this to be widely aliased. IMVHO, when this happens, the problem is
much deeper than just having the unauthorized article removed.

If and when NoCeM becomes widely accepted, most sites can be expected to honor
signed 'Action: hide' requests from newsgroup moderators in their groups.

Scenario 3.

Alice provides dial-up Usenet feed to/from several small sites run by Bob,
Charles, and Dan. Their domains point to Alice via MX. Alice knows that if one
of them spams Usenet, she'll be flamed and mailbombed. Alice adds her own
"Cancel-Lock:" to each article she receives from these sites before feeding
them to the rest of Usenet. Later she can cancel whatever articles have
originated at B, C, D, and passed through her site.

If Bob, Charles, and Dan don't want Alice to be able to cancel their articles,
or if Alice adds other headers in the articles that pass through her site that
they don't like, then they can look for another feed.

Please note that I don't claim credit for these proposals: I'm just repeating
others' ideas which I happen to like a lot. I hope some civic-minded person(s)
will write patches for the common posting/server software, and compose an RFC
for the Cancel-Lock:/Cancel-Key: headers. One nice feature about the Hujskonen-
Franz proposal that it can be adopted gradually: some sites can continue to
honor all cancels, while others can choose to start honoring only authenticated
cancels, and to help track down forged cancels that fail authentication.

P.S. I saw a NoCeM notice from Chris Lewis with Action:hide/Type: copyright,
for someone's Usenet article that, I think, quoted his private e-mail (?).
I wonder if CancelPoodle's NoCeM's for the Top $ekret $ientology $tuff will
follow soon. :) (And the NoCeM documents should probably be updated to
support new types: copyright, libel, flame, inappropriate, ... :) :)

:-) ObMoosePoem: :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)
Moose, Moose, wonderful Moose!
Gets rid of nasty spam.
So fond of the Moose I am.
Hooray for the wonderful Moose!


<a href="mailto:[email protected]">Dr. Dimitri Vulis</a>
Brighton Beach Boardwalk BBS, Forest Hills, N.Y.: +1-718-261-2013, 14.4Kbps