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[Discuss] Why the dislike of X.509?

On Mon, Aug 25, 2014 at 1:22 PM, Richard Pieri <richard.pieri at> wrote:
> It's not that I hate OpenVPN. It's that I hate key escrow systems. Hated
> them since the early 1990s. I hate them because they're single points of
> compromise for entire systems. I hate them because compromise is
> undetectable by users.

It's not that X.509 file format is the problem per se, it's the
browser Root CA infrastructure that has been built upon it, that is
used by most non-browser SSL apps too.

In the Public CA infrastructure,  most any sub-CA cert signed by any
cert traceable to any browser Root CA can issue a MITM cert to
impersonate any specific FQDN or *.someone.TLD .  If the system was
fit for purpose, should the Hong Kong Postal Authority or the
stolen/compromised CA key be able to issue * certs that are
trusted?  No. As is, would you know if they did? Not immediately,
maybe never.

Combine that with the weak nature of DNS and BGP security and any
sufficiently advanced opponent -- either state-sponsored or
organized-crime -- can beat SSL, at least against targeted or regional

[ Add in how we like URL shorteners with cutely irrelevant 2L national
TLDs like .LY .IE .US .CO .NU .TV that are property of governments
that might be either amenable to official or corrupt requests, and
it's only easier to divert traffic. ]

Unpatched systems might still accept cancelled compromised-CA-key
signed forgeries today.
(The CRL won't save them, it can be blocked by an aggressive adversary
with local or regional DNS/BGP poisoning ability, which is needed for
most MITM anyway ! )

Bill Ricker
bill.n1vux at

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