CFP: PKI research workshop

Perry E. Metzger perry at
Wed Dec 26 17:45:58 EST 2001

"Phillip Hallam-Baker" <hallam at> writes:
> Methinks you complain too much.
> PKI is in widespread use, it is just not that noticeable when you use it.
> This is how it should be. SSL is widely used to secure internet payment
> transactions.

HTTPS SSL does not use PKI. SSL at best has this weird system in which
Verisign has somehow managed to charge web sites a toll for the use of
SSL even though for the most part the certificates assure the users of
nothing whatsoever. (If you don't believe me about the assurance
levels, read a Verisign cert practice statement sometime.)

Of course, client side certificates barely even exist, although people
made substantial preparation for them early on in the history of all
of this.

Were it not for historical accident no one would care about "PKI" in
this context.

> S/MIME use is significant and growing.

I get PGP encrypted mail a few times a week. I've never received a
request from any counterparty to set myself up to receive S/MIME. Your
mileage may vary.

> The financial industry is not looking at offline PKI models in
> general.

When I was still doing security consulting, nearly every firm I worked
for had installed Entrust or something similar -- and none of them
used the systems for anything.

PKI and the Emperor's New Clothes have a bunch in common.

> As for what PKI vendors have been up to, the sucessful ones have been
> supporting private label certification hierarchies from the start.

The PKI vendors are, I think, largely surprised by what has
happened. They were expecting things like lots of mutual
authentication using PKI to be in place, and in fact, there's almost
none in use at all.

I think many of the PKI vendors haven't been doing too well -- some of
them that I used to have dealings with barely exist any longer. The
one business that seems to make money is charging a toll for running
an e-commerce site. I wonder who they might be.

Of course, none of this should be surprising in the least. Commerce
and the PKI model have nearly nothing to do with each other. Some of
us were writing about this years ago.

Perry E. Metzger		perry at
NetBSD Development, Support & CDs.

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