[Cryptography] How to solve the hen-and-egg problem

Ralf Senderek crypto at senderek.ie
Wed Jul 29 08:07:04 EDT 2015

It is usually being believed that the hen-and-egg problem cannot
be solved, but I need a solution for my particular version now.

The Crypto Bone has reached a state that it actually can be used
in practice, but it hasn't been subject to thorough code review, yet.
A code review has to focus on two programs (secrets and openpgp)
that I have written in C, which make use of Peter Gutmann's cryptlib.
And in a wider context a handful of ksh scripts.

People I've asked for advice, how to get code review, seem to say that
unless the Crypto Bone isn't used widely, nobody will have any reason
to look at the source code. In order to increase the user base
considerably, I've developed a software-only version of the Crypto
Bone that people can use who have no Beagle Bone.

One might think that this all-in-one version will be more vulnerable
to attack as it lacks the isolated, minimalist environment that the
real thing provides. And in a way that's true.
But it turns out, that it is still pretty safe unless an attacker has got
the ability to run arbitrary code as root on the computer that hosts
the all-in-on version. And although this is more likely to happen on
the user's machine than on the bone, it means the all-in-one Crypto Bone
may be safe to use, too.

I'd like to know if you think this is the right way to approach the
usability dilemma or if you have any idea how to approach my
hen-and-egg problem from a different angle.


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