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Why am I still using certificate authorities in $CURRENT_YEAR? πŸ”—
1645057792  

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Much hay has been made of late about how everyone's favorite CAs, including LetsEncrypt are worse than useless for their stated purpose of identity verification. The entire idea that this "chain of trust" prevents man-in-the middle attacks is completely nonsense, as the issuers are all capable of easily being fooled or coerced by state power on a routine basis.

I remember the good old days of self-signed certs. All the anti-self-signed hysteria was about the fact nobody read the certs, just like today. We could in fact have it much better nowadays via DNSSEC, DANE, CAA Records and CT Headers. The closest thing anyone has to identity verification is WHOIS (and anyone who opts for WHOIS privacy is a fool opening themself up to arbitrary seizure). The credit card companies are infinitely better at KYC than all the Certificate Authorities thrown together, so don't fight the system.

There's still one thing missing to completely remove the possibility of MITMs from any source other than smacking your registrar and host with a rubber hose. Post your self-signed CABundle as a TXT record. If you did so, you could implement the ultimate countermeasure to MITM attacks. Issuing a unique cert per session. Talk about perfect forward secrecy! I sure as heck would prefer to pay for a crypto accelerator card than send a dime to Certificate Authorities, being as they're little better than scams. This would also make a lot of things go whir at your friendly neighborhood gestapo agency. I wish I were shilling for $NVDA here, but alas I hold no position as of this writing.

Why nobody's thought of this incredibly simple solution is for the same reason as all my other "Why am I..." articles. It's easy to be dense when your livelihood depends on using your cranium to store old rags. Thankfully LetsEncrypt has almost totally put the CAs out of business at this point. It shouldn't be much of a step to put them out of business too.

The bigger question is how to get the browsers to reverse their scaremongering about self-signing. It will likely take dedicated lobbying to get them to support mechanisms for feeling good about self-signed CAs. LetsEncrypt is unfortunately "good enough" and has taken away the enthusiasm for further reform. I consider it unlikely that server operators and domain owners will fight for control being in their hands (where it ought to have been all along) until a major and prolonged LetsEncrypt outage.

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