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Protect email with digital certificates
Authored by: tonygoulding on Jun 24, '06 12:10:12PM

Digital signatures offer a strong trust mechanism for things like email messages and (as has been stated) validating the signature against the public key of the sender is a good security step to help ensure the integrity of the message (i.e. it hasn't been tampered with) and authenticity of the sender. However, there is a further step if you want to fully leverage this trust model.

If my private (signing) key has been compromised allowing a baddie to masquerade as me by signing mails with my private key, then I would want to revoke that certificate with the Certificate Authority (CA) that issued it. If your application (such as Mail) doesn't take the next step of performing a REVOCATION check of the certificate with the issuing CA, you might have a false sense of trust in the signature.

Some applications have this revocation checking ability built-in; some do not. Not sure about Apple Mail (although requirements for CRL/OCSP checking can be switched on/off I believe in the Keychain).

Agreed, that this might be an unlikely situation and overkill for Joe Average, but worth noting nontheless.

Tony.



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