The Thawte Web of Trust

Several years ago, while I was working at Xcert International, I became a notary for the Thawte Web of Trust, making identity assertions for Thawte’s free Personal Digital Certificates. The Thawte Web of Trust is a digital certificate trust assertion system that has some similar characteristics to the PGP Web of Trust, except that it uses X.509-based keys. To use an X.509 key for email authentication or encryption (S/MIME), you need a compatible email client such as Mozilla.

So a couple of years have passed since I last was involved in this, and then somebody contacted me out of the blue to get their identity asserted. Christ – two years later and I forgot how to do everything! What the hell was my password? It had been so long since I last bothered – I thought for sure that this service had completely gone the way of the dodo.

And then I remembered, this was an very cool way to authenticate messages and encrypt your email. Since it is built in to some of the major email clients such as Outlook/Outlook Express and Mozilla/Netscape, it is fairly convenient to use. Trust can be asserted by a major root certificate authority such as Verisign or Thawte. If everyone used this, email privacy and user authentication would be greatly improved in the email world.

Now if only there were more S/MIME-compatible email clients out there. Eudora doesn’t support it as far as I know. Mac versions of Apple Mail, Microsoft Outlook Express, and Microsoft Entourage also leave out X.509 compatabilty. The main limiting factor to widespread adoption, besides a general lack of awareness in the public, is that there are so many incompatible email clients out there.

At any rate, if you would like me to notarize your Thawte Personal Email Certificate and are or will be in the San Francisco Bay Area, then please feel free to contact me.

Obsession and Greed

Bush says that an Iraqi attack could cripple the U.S. economy.

News flash for you Dubyah: the U.S. economy is already pretty much crippled, and has pretty much been on a downward spiral since the day you bumbled your way in to office. Making statements such as this will make the U.S. economy even more fragile by instilling a further sense of fear about the issue into the public. The cost of such a war would bring the U.S. economy down even further, as Bush’s own budget team was predicting that a war with Iraq would cost at least $50 billion!

This transparent obfuscation from the White House to attempt getting the public to buy in to Bush’s desire to carry out his personal vendetta. The U.S. has far more urgent situations arising from continued al Qaida terrorists and North Korean nukes at the moment. Bush is fixated on Iraq and needs to take a step back to reassess national priorities.

When asking oneself why Bush is so enfatuated with invading Iraq, to the point of weakening the pursuit of al Qaida terrorists and slighting the situation with North Korean nuclear arms development, one only has to look as far as Bush and Cheney’s energy backgrounds and the vast untapped oil reserves beneath Iraq’s soil.