GSM eavesdropping

Nicolas Williams Nicolas.Williams at
Mon Aug 2 16:46:24 EDT 2010

On Mon, Aug 02, 2010 at 04:19:38PM -0400, Paul Wouters wrote:
> On Mon, 2 Aug 2010, Nicolas Williams wrote:
> >How should we measure success?
> "The default mode for any internet communication is encrypted"

That's... extreme.  There are many things that will not be encrypted,
starting with the DNS itself, and also most public contents (because
their purveyors won't want to pay for the crypto; sad but true).

> >By that measure TLS has been so much more successful than IPsec as to
> >prove the point.
> I never claimed IPsec was more successful....It was not.

No, but you claimed that APIs weren't a major issue.  I believe they are.

> >But note that the one bit you're talking about is necessarily a part of
> >a resolver API, thus proving my point :)
> Yes, but in some the API is pretty much done. If you trust your (local)
> resolver, the one bit is the only thing you need to check. You let the
> resolver do most of the bootstrap crypto. One you have that, your app
> can rip out most of the X.509 nonsense and use the public key obtained
> from DNS for its further crypto needs.

You missed the point.  The point was: do not design security solutions
without designing their interfaces.

IPsec has no user-/sysadmin-/developer-friendly interfaces -> IPsec is
not used.  DNS has interfaces -> when DNSSEC comes along we can extend
those intefaces.

Note that IPsec could have had trivial APIs -- trivial by comparison to
the IPsec configuration interfaces that operating systems typically
have.  For example, there's a proposal in the IETF apps area for an API
that creates connections to named servers, hiding all the details of
name resolution, IPv4/v6/v4-mapped-v6 addressing.  Such an API could
trivially have a bit by which the app can request cryptographic
protection (via IPsec, TLS, whatever can be negotiated).  Optional
complexity could be added to deal with subtleties of the secure
transport (e.g., what cipher suites do you want, if not the default).
But back in the day APIs were seen as not really in scope, so IPsec
never got them, so IPsec has been underused (and rightly so).

> >...but we grow technologies organically, therefore we'll never have a
> >situation where the necessary infrastructure gets deployed in a secure
> >mode from the get-go.  This necessarily means that applications need
> >APIs by which to cause and/or determine whether secure modes are in
> >effect.
> But by now, upgrades happen more automatic and more quickly. Adding something
> new to DNS won't take 10 years to get deployed. We've come a long way. It's
> time to reap the benefits from our new infrastructure.

No objection there.


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