[tor-dev] Of CA-signed certs and .onion URIs

George Kadianakis desnacked at riseup.net
Tue Nov 18 17:55:29 UTC 2014

Tom Ritter <tom at ritter.vg> writes:

> There's been a spirited debate on irc, so I thought I would try and
> capture my thoughts in long form. I think it's important to look at
> the long-term goals rather than how to get there, so that's where I'm
> going to start, and then at each item maybe talk a little bit about
> how to get there.  So I think the Tor Project and Tor Browser should:
> a) Eliminate self-signed certificate errors when browsing https:// on
> an onion site
> b) Consider how Mixed Content should interact with .onion browsing
> c) Get .onion IANA reserved
> d) Address the problems that Facebook is/was concerned about when
> deploying a .onion
> e) Consider how EV treatment could be used to improve poor .onion readability

Thanks for all the thoughts Tom!

This is hard topic and I don't really have strong opinions on this.

Some notes:

- Allowing self-signed certs sounds like a potentially good idea to
  me.  However, I can hear grarpamp's concerns and it's not obviously
  clear to me that it's something we should do.

  In general, the whole user education part of this is quite hard to
  evaluate, and I don't think I understand the problem well enough to
  take a stance.

- In general, having CAs sign onion certificates seems like a good
  thing for now. There are threat models that would really benefit
  from this, so we should make it a possibility and work with CAs to
  get the best out of it.

- I'm not very afraid of CA certificates getting out of control, that
  is the community evolving to a point that if an HS doesn't have a CA
  certificate it's not considered secure.

  This doesn't seem like something that will happen any time soon, and
  if it ever happens and we really want to stop it, well it's good we
  have a Firefox fork ;)

Personally, I would let this issue develop organically:

In the short-term future, we should help CAs make their certs useful
for the onionspace, and we should also make some trac tickets and
plans for any Tor modifications we want to do (for example, trusting
self-signed certs signed by the HS identity key seem like a generally
good idea).

I encourage anyone with good ideas and opinions to get involved with
the CA community and help them make this useful. As I understand it,
part of the discussion is happening here:

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