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RFC2850

1998 Statements on Cryptography, Mail Message, December 1998.

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1998 Statements on Cryptography

Subject: Harmful changes to Wassenaar Arrangement
Date: Fri, 18 Dec 1998
From: The IAB

The IAB and the IESG deplore the recent changes to the Wassenaar
Arrangement (http://www.wassenaar.org) that further limit the
availability of encryption software by including it in the Wassenaar
agreement’s list of export controlled software (section 5.A.2.a.1
of the list of dual-use goods, WA LIST 98 (1)). As discussed in
RFC 1984, strong cryptography is essential to the security of the
Internet; restrictions on its use or availability will leave us
with a weak, vulnerable network, endanger the privacy of users and
businesses, and slow the growth of electronic commerce.

The new restrictions will have a particularly deleterious effect
on smaller countries, where there may not be enough of a local
market or local expertise to support the development of indigenous
cryptographic products. But everyone is adversely affected by
this; the Internet is used world-wide, and even sites with access
to strong cryptographic products must be able to talk to those who
do not. This in turn endangers their own security.

We are happy that the key size limit has been raised in some cases
from 40 bits to 64; however, this is still too small to provide
real security. We estimate that after a modest capital investment,
a company or criminal organization could crack a 64-bit cipher in less
than a day for about $2500 per solution. This cost will only drop
in coming years. A report released about three years ago suggested
that 90-bit keys are the minimum for long-term security.

We are happy that the key size limit has been raised in some cases
from 40 bits to 64; however, this is still too small to provide
real security. We estimate that after a modest capital investment,
a company or criminal organization could crack a 64-bit cipher in less
than a day for about $2500 per solution. This cost will only drop
in coming years. A report released about three years ago suggested
that 90-bit keys are the minimum for long-term security.

    Brian Carpenter (IAB Chair) 

    Fred Baker (IESG and IETF Chair)


Subject: IAB statement on “private doorbell” encryption
Date: Thu, 15 Oct 1998
From: The IAB

The IAB and IESG are concerned by published descriptions of the
“private doorbell” approach to resolving the encryption controversy.
Essentially, the private doorbell requires that encryption and
decryption be done at a gateway, rather than at an end system; see

http://www.cisco.com/warp/public/779/govtaff/policy/paper/paper_index.html

for one description. This is in conflict with the “end-to-end”
principle, a fundamental tenet of the Internet architecture. While
there is certainly a place for gateway-based encryption in some
circumstances, to require it in all places (and to exclude end-to-end
encryption) would warp the protocol structure. Furthermore, it
offers a significantly lower level of security, in that there is
no longer protection against inside attacks, which by all accounts
are a serious threat.

In addition, putting all security at the gateway ignores the need
for different levels of protection in different situations. For
some applications, encryption to the gateway may suffice. Others
may require encryption and cryptographic authentication of the
individual machine or even user. Should a strong encryption
algorithm be used, or a very efficient one? It is very difficult
to make these decisions anywhere but the end-system. But the
“private doorbell” scheme would block deployment of such fine-grained
protection.