Re: [Ietf-dkim] Thinking About DKIM and Surveillance

Damon <> Thu, 03 October 2019 01:57 UTC

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From: Damon <>
Date: Wed, 2 Oct 2019 21:56:52 -0400
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Subject: Re: [Ietf-dkim] Thinking About DKIM and Surveillance
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On 10/2/19 12:29 PM, Jon Callas wrote:

> >> When we designed DKIM, this was something we considered; it was a
> concern. It wasn't so big a concern that we thought it should derail DKIM,
> and it wasn't even a concern when it was taken over by the IETF.
> Nonetheless, it was an issue, is an issue, and becomes a bigger issue
> nearly every day. The most notorious failure here is the Podesta email
> dump, where the stolen emails were verified against the DKIM signatures.
> This is precisely what we didn't want to happen -- that DKIM was used for
> things beyond fighting inauthentic emails. We ought to do something, the
> question is what.
> On Wed, Oct 2, 2019 at 7:50 PM Jim Fenton <> wrote:

> > Yes, we definitely considered privacy with respect to DKIM. But my
> recollection is different: I don't remember discussion of the potential
> forensic use of DKIM signatures to provide unintended non-repudiation of
> leaked emails. I also wouldn't describe the presence of such signatures
> on email messages to be surveillance -- although it does contribute to
> the effectiveness of surveillance done by other means.
> > The type of surveillance we were discussing at the time was the
> potential that the verification of a DKIM signature might give the
> sender information on the location of the recipient (by observing the
> DNS requests at the point where the key record is hosted). Use of
> different selector names could also differentiate requests on behalf of
> a particular target. I believe this concern was addressed by the
> observation that the signature verification would typically be done by
> the recipient's mail provider, and not by the recipient themselves.
> There were a lot of smart people looking at it and working on it and I am
absolutely sure we didn't even consider the forensic use... or if we did (I
don't remember it) I don't think a scenario was constructed by anyone that
showed it. I am also certain that if we did J would have had a lot to say
about it. ;-) But back then, and even now, this case is pretty fringe.