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Re: Non-English Domain Names Likely Delayed

  • From: Iljitsch van Beijnum
  • Date: Tue Jul 19 04:35:04 2005

On 19-jul-2005, at 1:43, Crist Clark wrote:

If you make a bunch of assumptions

Plus, you have to trust DNS, which means you have to trust:

  1) the root
  2) the gTLD
  3) the authorative servers for the domain

And for 99% of the users out there,

  4) the caching servers for their ISP/employer/other access
Actually, you don't. If the DNS provides false information, the public key crypto will catch this. Sure, you won't be able to communicate, but you can't be fished that way.

you can be sure that when it says https:// in your browser, you're actually communicating with the entity holding the name in a secure way. So when something
that looks exactly like is in fact different from, that's a pretty big deal because it breaks the whole system.

Assuming the system works. SSL doesn't really work now since
so many users reflexively click through warnings about bad
There is no cure for stupidity... And I'm not even sure it's really stupidity: in their own twisted way, these users behave rationally because the energy to stay safe isn't worth keeping away the bad consequences to them. This of course changes when their online banking account is raided.

And while we're at it, does any of this fix whether any of
the following,

Might trick a user into thinking he's connected to the same
entity that owns
I don't see why this would need to be "fixed". We're not talking about 5 year olds, people need to be able to cross the road without someone holding their hand.

> So how would fixing this make things worse?

Wrong question. How will fixing this one problem make things any
Simple: the system then performs as designed again. All the other problems are more or less under the user's control.

If almost none of the phishing emails I get now bother
to play these kinds of games today, how much does this really help?
And burglars also manage to get inside your house even though you lock the door. So better not lock the door then?

Yeah, if it's easy, go ahead, but as the mere existence of this
thread seems to indicate this is not an easy problem. I worry that
like many of the other spam-related problems while we have a lot of
very smart people like yourself thinking hard about how to prevent
abuse, we may just be rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
That is such crap, and it's exactly this attitude that makes it possible for spam to persist. When confronted by an apparently intractable problem, in very many cases it helps to solve the parts that can be solved and then have another look at the remaining problem. More often than not it doesn't look as intractable any more.

should we be doing instead?

Many things, perhaps the two most important "we" can do:

  1) Pounding it into the users that you don't ever trust what it
    says in the navigation bar unless you typed it there yourself.
    Corrorlaries: (a) When following links on webpages, your level
    of trust should only be that of the least trusted page in the
    chain of links.
If this is true, it means a failure on the part of the browser. I don't think we should live with that but get ourself better browsers.

(b) NEVER EVER, EVER, EVER trust a link in an
    unsigned email.
Haha. I talked to a CERT guy a while ago. They had a service where they send out dumbed down warnings to regular users (not sysadmins or whatever). I asked him why they didn't use S/MIME to sign their mail. "That confuses people." Ok then. If people in the security business (how I hate the fact that it's a business these days!) don't even want to use the tools that are available, rational thought breaks down. (Although I have to admit that it DOES look confusing in popular Windows email clients.)

  2) Pounding it into merchants, banks, etc., to make sure they never
    ask their customers to violate (1).
Expansion of 1: don't trust any unsollicited communication. This includes all incoming email (unless it's signed but it never is) and phone calls. (Law enforcement at your door? How do I know those badges are real?) Never give out your password to ANYONE, EVER.

But sorry, I do not have all of the answers either.

[0] Perhaps a better analogy is that by "cleaning up" DNS, we are
trying to prevent the iceburgs. We should be letting the indvidual
merchants, banks, and other secure sites, the ships, make their
own schemes for avoiding them. We could be helping them build stronger
ships, something better than today's SSL, and mapping out where the
iceburgs are, figuring out where they need to balance convenience
versus security, than trying to clear the seas of all possible hazards.
No, what's needed is that systems don't have glaring holes. Email is a joke, anyone can send messages with any "From" line that they want. Credit cards are a joke, anyone who works in a store can copy numbers and then use those online. The trouble with these two is that people have been using them as-is for so long that they don't want to give up the convenience of the insecurity. So at some level this is working for people, or they wouldn't be using it.