[p2p-hackers] how do I tell these Chinese people "You're doing it wrong!" ?
zooko at zooko.com
Wed Nov 10 08:19:53 PST 2010
Dear people of p2p-hackers, tahoe-dev, and liberationtech:
I think I confused the issue when I said in  "some people in China
might be relying on using the Tahoe-LAFS public demo over unencrypted
HTTP and thinking that it provides security properties like they would
get if they ran their own copy of Tahoe-LAFS locally".
Encryption of the HTTP connection isn't very important, so it was
confusing when I mentioned "over unencrypted HTTP". I should have just
said "some people in China might be relying on using the Tahoe-LAFS
public demo and thinking that it provides security properties like
they would get if they ran their own copy of Tahoe-LAFS
Look at this diagram:
Using an unencrypted connection (HTTP or FTP) between the Tahoe-LAFS
client and the Tahoe-LAFS gateway means that the link between those
two objects on the diagram is red, meaning that you are vulnerable to
anyone who controls that link. If you instead used an encrypted
connection (HTTPS or SFTP) between those two objects then that link
would be black, meaning that you are not vulnerable to someone just
because they control that link. But you are still vulnerable to
whoever controls the Tahoe-LAFS gateway which the link goes to!
The right way to do it is to run the Tahoe-LAFS gateway yourself on a
computer that you control. The Tahoe-LAFS gateway object is red on
that diagram, meaning that you rely on it for your security, which is
why you should run it on a computer that you control.
You could run it on the same laptop or desktop that you are running
your web browser (which is acting as the Tahoe-LAFS client), in which
case it doesn't matter whether you use HTTP or HTTPS because the
connection is only running over the loopback interface anyway.
Or you could run it on some other computer that you control, in which
case you need to use HTTPS so that you aren't vulnerable to anyone who
controls the link between your local computer running your web browser
on and your remote computer running your Tahoe-LAFS gateway.
So, how do we explain to these Chinese users (and everyone else) that
if they want good security, they must run a Tahoe-LAFS gateway (which
is a web server) on a computer they control? Perhaps it would help to
draw one variant of this diagram showing a user using a gateway on a
remote server and being vulnerable to the people who control that
server (which may include more people than the server's legal owner
thinks), and another picture showing a user using a gateway on his
local machine and being safe against the threat of the server operator
Does anyone have design skills (and Chinese!) and could try to explain this?
Here is the source code for the current version of the diagram:
p2p-hackers mailing list
p2p-hackers at lists.zooko.com
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