[whatwg] Browser Signature Standards Proposal

Alexey Feldgendler alexey at feldgendler.ru
Thu Nov 2 01:23:30 PST 2006

On Thu, 02 Nov 2006 14:27:33 +0600, Anders Rundgren <anders.rundgren at telia.com> wrote:

>> The purpose of a digital signature is to certify that the data submitted by
>> the client were not forged by an attacker. HTTPS with a
>> client-side certificate ensures the same.

> Digital signatures is as you say just a variation of authentication.  The
> things that the DS people wants to add are:
> - A "process" that differs from authentication from the user's point of view

This is a problem of browser UI design, not of web standards.

> - A persistent trace of the authenticated operation.  This is what the
> signature adds to the picture.  HTTPS with client-side certificates have no
> connection to content data since it occurs at the transport level.  Digital
> signatures are created at the application-level in the schemes that Channy
> and I talk about.

This is a valid argument, though most of the typical applications where custom ActiveX signing objects are used don't need this property -- they just need secure authentication.

> But it is a fact that strong authentication is an alternative to digital
> signatures but some of use are trying to change that, not only for legal
> reasons but for making a difference between "login" and "accept".

As I say above, this should be solved at browser UI level. The browsers should make it clear to the user that presenting a client-side certificate to a website is effectively an act of disclosing and proving the user's identity, and that every piece of information he sends to the server (every user action) is non-repudiable. (And, of course, presentation of any client-side certificates to the server should be optional, easily switchable, and obviously indicated.)

Alexey Feldgendler <alexey at feldgendler.ru>
[ICQ: 115226275] http://feldgendler.livejournal.com

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