Re: The TCP and UDP checksum algorithm may soon need updating

Nick Hilliard <nick@foobar.org> Mon, 08 June 2020 18:12 UTC

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Subject: Re: The TCP and UDP checksum algorithm may soon need updating
To: Michael Thomas <mike@mtcc.com>
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From: Nick Hilliard <nick@foobar.org>
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Date: Mon, 8 Jun 2020 19:12:10 +0100
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Michael Thomas wrote on 08/06/2020 18:37:
> Uh, why are you selling apps so short? An app is capable of making 
> library calls for TLS but incapable of making the OS calls for IPsec? 
> That's just silly.

Difficult to see how this was inferred? :-)

> The only reason, imo, that tls took hold is because it beat ipsec to the 
> market. By the time ipsec was well supported, nobody cared any more.

ssl, then later tls, took hold because it was designed for, and 
therefore easily applied to tcp sessions and because there was a lot of 
effort put into creating ancillary frameworks, e.g. the pki, sensible 
APIs, etc.  This push towards application usability made it transparent 
to the protocol consumer, whether that be granny, or 14yo whizz-kid, or 
someone trying to do some online shopping.

Obviously you're technically correct that an app can call any library 
function and that it matters little to a CPU or the data, or the network 
layer whether it's rsa, aes or sha - or ipsec, or tls or whatever.  But 
the success of tls came down to usability, or more specifically 
use-transparency: security could be implemented without people even 
being aware of it and shifting people from unencrypted to encrypted data 
transfer was a easy as configuring a server-side redirect.  Conversely 
configuring and managing ipsec still creates thundering headaches even 
for experienced operators.

There are plenty of reasons that security protocols in particular end up 
being unusable in practice - usually for sound reasons, none of which 
were individually wrong, but the outcome is invariably byzantine.  It's 
often the usability of a system which determines success, not the 
systems' other technical merits.

Nick