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Re: The case against redundancy and isolation

1997-11-21 11:17:25

Thomas Roessler writes:
On November 19 1997, Jeremey Barrett wrote:

With MIME, it is immediately obvious to the recipient that
the message was signed or encrypted, whether or not they
may have a PGP-capable mail reader.  It is also trivial to
use this non-PGP-aware software to handle PGP/MIME signed
messages correctly when replying.  

It is equally obvious to the non-MIME mail reader that this ASCII
armored mail message was signed. However, it is not obvious that
a PGP/MIME signed message has anything but gibberish in it. Ever 
used 'mail' to read a MIME message? :-)

I'm not saying MIME is bad, I'm saying that eliminating ASCII armor
is a step in the wrong direction.

I want to be able to send secure email to people who don't
use MIME, that is a very useful feature of PGP in the
context of email, and I don't see any reason at all to not
include ASCII armoring in the draft.

I want to be able to send PGP-signed email to mailing
lists where not everybody has PGP at hand.  Nevertheless,
everybody should be able to properly handle my messages
(which might quite well include diff(1) output and similar
things).  Separating the cryptographic signature from the
message's content proper is one of the most useful
features of multipart/signed messages.

In some cases, it is useful. In other cases, it's the wrong policy.
As Jon pointed out, PGP is not email software, there are a host
of other applications for PGP, which might well benefit (and do)
from ASCII armor.

Yes, PGP is about security, and requiring PGP users to use
MIME mail readers does not result in an increase in
security. Quite the opposite.

How do you come to this conclusion?  I'm actually quite
glad to use a MIME and PGP capable Mail User Agent.  And
yes, I'm using it from my Unix shell.  And yes, it's
freely available.

My point is that _requiring_ MIME eliminates a set of users. That's
all. Eliminating users decreases the security of the system, because
less people have the necessary tools. If security is the goal (and
as I read the wg charter, "The whole purpose of Open-PGP is to provide
security services") then the elimination of ASCII armor is 
contradictory to the goals of the wg, IMO. It should be a MUST.

IMO ASCII-armored PGP is not a competing standard on encoding
techniques, rather it is an integral part of PGP and security.

I beg your pardon - PGP just works fine with binaryly
transmitted packet files.

Yes, but ASCII armor has quite alot of use, both in email and other
applications. It's crazy to require MIME _and_ eliminate ASCII armor.

- -- 
Jeremey Barrett                                BlueMoney Software Corp.
Crypto, Ecash, Commerce Systems     
PGP key fingerprint =  3B 42 1E D4 4B 17 0D 80  DC 59 6F 59 04 C3 83 64

Version: 2.6.2
Comment: Processed by Mailcrypt 3.4, an Emacs/PGP interface