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Re: Is meaning important?

(Bill Sommerfeld responding to Ben Laurie):
>   Could we not make useful progress by ignoring the question of CRLs, trust
>   models and so on, and concentrating on the interchange aspects of
>   the system?
>We might make progress by ignoring the hard problems, but I think the
>end result wouldn't be enough of an improvement over the "x.509 for
>the internet" approach of the pkix group.
>   I'm not saying that these issues do not need to be addressed, just that
>   are many uses for certificates, and many different models for verifying
>   all of which could be built on a single interchange methodology
>   (maybe).
>I disagree.
>If you build something with no understanding of how it will be used,
>it won't work very well.
>Certificates need to certify something which is meaningful to an
>application in a way which the application can trust.  If the base
>certificate encoding has a flaw which prevents us from doing that, I'd
>rather know sooner rather than later..
>                                        - Bill

It is the detection of such a "flaw" (by which I assume you mean an
unrecognized encoding, structure, or inappropriate semantic content)
that I hoped to address by suggesting a "Cert-Spec" header, minimal
in size and coded in a lowest-common-denominator representation.
It would convey, at the outset, both the type of encodings used within,
but also semantic "facts" such as...

() validation of this cert utilizes:
    (a CRL lookup) vs (short-term-cert Validity Period)
() this cert contains:
    (a complete signed public key) vs (hash of key, separate lookup needed)

The Cert-Spec is exactly intended to let you know "sooner rather than later."


Tony Bartoletti                                             LL
SPI Project Leader                                       LL LL
Computer Security Technology Center                   LL LL LL
Lawrence Livermore National Lab                       LL LL LL
PO Box 808, L - 303                                   LL LL LLLLLLLL
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