SINP Certificates and redirects

Tuesday the 11th, we (Noud, Bram and I) had a meeting with some guys of the Security of Systems Group at the Radboud University. We discussed the security of the current SINP protocol. There hasn’t been a hard verdict on whether SINP is secure, because the SINP specification leaves a lot of details to implementations and SINP doesn’t make hard claims on its security yet (which can be either proved or disproved).

The meeting has yielded two new additions to SINP: document certificates1 and redirects.

First of, SINP document certificates. At the moment you can’t trust the information in a SINP document. I can forge my SINP document and claim that I’m Belgium, which I am not. To allow some trust which some people and services care about, we’ll allow certificates in your identity document. Basically you let someone sign a part of your SINP document and include that certificate.

Your goverment could sign your name in your SINP document for instance and you’d add that certificate into your document, which could be required by some services. These certificates are a bit tricky though to design, because they do need to be secure and they need to be a bit more dynamic than your usual certificate because of the way SINP documents are queried.

A second problem we encountered during the meeting was how to be able to trust your SINP server. I (and other tech savvy people) can set up their own SINP server, which we can fully trust because we set it up ourselves. Not so tech savvy people can’t — they need to rely on existing SINP servers. The problem is whether we can trust those servers with our secrets.

Cees (if I recall correctly) coined the idea that some of your secrets are already on the internet. If you’ve got a VISA creditcard number, then VISA obviously has that creditcard number, and you trust them with it. What if VISA would store the part of your SINP identity document with your creditcardnumber on its own SINP Server?

Basically I go to a big SINP provider (which I don’t trust), I create a SINP identity and put in my SINP document that you can find my creditcard number under the SINP identity This act of redirecting clients to other SINP identities is called a SINP Redirect. SINP Redirects could also proof very usefull when you change your SINP server. The only thing you’d have to do is to set up a SINP redirect in your old identity document to your new identitiy document.

Both SINP Certificates and SINP Redirects will require a lot of though to implement cleanly and simple, which is tricky.

Any thoughts would be welcome.

1: Actually, this certificates aren’t new, Bram came up with the idea quite a while ago.