[whatwg] A few comments on the <keygen> tag
anders.rundgren at telia.com
Wed Apr 15 12:13:02 PDT 2009
I may indeed be biased since I run a private standardization effort coined KeyGen2 which is designed to replace <keygen>.
Anyway, it might be of some general interest knowing why I have started this thing.
Microsoft does not support <keygen>. If I were Microsoft I wouldn't bother since all CAs have adapted themselves to Microsoft's scheme. Microsoft's scheme (CertEnroll) is more flexible than <keygen>, albeit much more complex as well.
Now to the really problematic stuff: <keygen> is not really an HTML tag, it is actually 2 phases of a 3-phase key provisioning protocol. I don't see why a protocol should be plugged into a page GUI. The alternatives all use APIs or specific plugins that indeed may be spawned from an HTML page but that's something completely different.
Just as a comparison I would like to mention the fact that the KeyGen2 schema is about 25 times the size of the <keygen> specification. Although that could indicate a major design error in KeyGen2, the truth (according to me of course...) is that <keygen> is way too limited to be used by serious issuers like banks and governments.
I would also consider the "market" for <keygen>. For PCs, physical token distribution is the standard, that's why there has been so little interest in on-line provisioning. However, for mobile phones, on-line provisioning is really the only good method unless you are a government and buy into $200+ solutions like the following:
A difference with mobile phones is that when the phone=token you can do much cooler things than you can on a PC, including trusted execution and provisioning. It seems a bit short-sighted to build on a 15 year old design without at least having investigated what is possible.
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