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In reply to STARTTLS Considered Harmful

Reader Gary Mort on 2015-05-05 at 16:06:

There is an invalid premise, you have assumed that using TLS means the communication is secure. Due to the root certificate structure, in the real world TLS security is situational. Since a certificate issued by ANY root CA is considered just as valid as any other root CA, it is simple to compromise[implementation may or may not be difficult, but the technical process itself is simple]. The long running CNNIC controversy shows that the root process is flawed and it took 5 years to reach the point where they got sloppy and were exposed. [Since they control much of the TCP/IP infrastructure in their country, it is trivial for them to provide redirect traffic to their own proxies and provide fake certificates only for targeted individuals - something they have already been caught doing in the past]

As such, using the word "secure" when referring to any central authority registration scheme is demonstrably false. What so called security experts mean is "it is secure, assuming that...." and their long standing avoidance of mentioning the assumptions they based it on makes most security professionals opinions worthless.

Starttls is an interesting protocol in that it gives the end user simple access to make a choice of how "secure" they want their communications to be, Always use, Prefer to use, or Do not use.

Most of the other "options" built into TLS and other protocols are not provided in any meaningful way for the end user[who is the one who should be making the decisions about what they want].


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