[Ach] [cryptography] Better Crypto

Peter Gutmann pgut001 at cs.auckland.ac.nz
Tue Jan 7 02:34:21 CET 2014

"L. Aaron Kaplan" <kaplan at cert.at> writes:

>> As a general observation, it also promotes the thinking that all we need to do
>> is choose magic algorithm A instead of magic algorithm B and everything is
>> fixed. 
>No, if we created that impression then we failed.

The problem is that as you read through the text you see, again and again, a
large amount of material telling you how to configure algorithms for OpenSSL
(and then to a lesser extent OpenSSH and others).  It seems to be the
overriding theme throughout the document.  A better option would be to refer
to a single location for this (in an appendix) and then give users a choice: a
generic safe config (disable null, export ciphers, short keys, known-weak,
etc), a maximum-interoperability config (3DES and others), and a super-
paranoid config (AES-GCM-256, Curve25519, etc), with warnings that that's
going to break lots of things.

>That's what we state in the abstract as well as in the disclaimer.

That assumes that people will read all of that, as well as the theory chapter
that follows.  Since the document is laid out as a cookbook, I have the
feeling that most people who just want to get a server up and running will
flip through until they find the bit corresponding to the software they'll be
running and then cut&paste the config lines they find there.  Or at least
that's been my experience in maintaining an open-source crypto library for
nearly two decades, the documentation isn't an instruction manual in the usual
sense but a set of code templates ready to cut&paste into a finished app.
Look at the popularity of HOWTOs for any number of how-to-set-up-XYZ issues,
most people just want a cookbook and won't read long, detailed discussions.  
Or for that matter any discussion that goes beyond "do this to get it 


More information about the Ach mailing list