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let's torture and kill virus writers

   Date: Thu, 04 May 2000 16:14:02 -0400
   From: Jerry Callen <jcallen at>

   The solution, as I see it, is strong authentication and encryption.
   If I am SURE (thanks to a digital signature) that an attachment comes
   from someone I trust, then I can open the document in confidence. But
   there is a convenience cost here; it just won't do to have the 
   signature generated automatically on outgoing message, because then 
   a rogue program can forge the signature. The user HAS to type in a
   passphrase FOR EVERY OUTGOING ATTACHMENT. Are people willing to do this?
   Maybe they are, after they've lost their files once to a virus.

No, that won't do it either!  Just because someone signs an attachment
doesn't mean that they know what it actually contains.

Look at all these macro viruses.  A macro virus insinuates itself into
the actual document.  Does the user know it's there?  No.  So he signs
the document and mails it to his friend.  Does his friend know what it
is, either?  No, it must be trustworthy...

Or maybe the virus captures the passphrase (trusted path?  What's a
trusted path?).  Or maybe it adds some other addresses to the outbound
address list, so the document goes to more people than the sender

It isn't that easy, I'm afraid...

Robert Krawitz <rlk at>

Tall Clubs International  -- or 1-888-IM-TALL-2
Member of the League for Programming Freedom -- mail lpf at
Project lead for The Gimp Print --

"Linux doesn't dictate how I work, I dictate how Linux works."
--Eric Crampton
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