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Re: Requesting comments on draft-cheney-safe-02.txt

2009-07-31 03:25:00

Cheney, Edward A SSG RES USAR USARC wrote:
The idea is that security vulnerabilities on the internet occur most 
significantly as a result of client-side scripting [...]  Client-side scripting 
cannot be removed unless an alternative convention is proposed.

[...] The idea is that interactivity from client-side scripting can be replaced 
by transaction interactivity.  Since mail servers are intermediate agents [...]

Apparently, moving scripts execution to mail servers would also transfer vulnerability issues along the same path. Is it difficult to state whether a compromised server is better than a compromised client, but it is certainly better if at least one of them is not compromised. (Considering that many mail server also function as http servers, for handling email via web forms, it seems unlikely that the vulnerability added to the servers would thus be removed from the clients.)

In addition, it may be overly difficult to obtain real interactivity without local scripting. Indeed, the draft defines what minimal code a client has to be allowed to execute. Allowing some more seems likely to come as an optional feature...

Finally, if the model is meant for widespread use, it shouldn't rely on users' ability to obtain and maintain CA certificates on their clients, or similar requirements, whose fulfillment doesn't seem more likely than S/MIME or PGP deployment. IMHO, ensuring that the server who has relayed the message is vouched for sending transactions by a trusted authority may be more viable (see RFC 5518). I would additionally provide for an SMTP extension whereby that relaying server grants that it knows where the message has originated from, and takes accountability for its content.

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