[openpgp] Deprecating compression support

Justus Winter <justuswinter@gmail.com> Mon, 18 March 2019 12:07 UTC

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From: Justus Winter <justuswinter@gmail.com>
To: openpgp@ietf.org
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2019 13:07:21 +0100
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Subject: [openpgp] Deprecating compression support
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Hello,

I propose to deprecate compression support in OpenPGP.  The reasons
for this are:

  - Compression makes it impossible to reason about the size of a
    decrypted message, requiring the use of a streaming interface even
    for seemingly small messages, e.g. emails.  Experience has shown
    that downstream users struggle with the correct use of streaming
    interfaces.

  - Compression allows the construction of quines.

  - Compression interacts badly with encryption, see e.g. CRIME,
    BREACH, and hiding of EFAIL-style CFB gadgets [0].

  - The downstream application is in a better position to decide whether
    and how to compress data that is then encrypted using OpenPGP.

  - Compression make the standard more complex, and enlarges the
    trusted computing base of implementations.

I realize that we cannot suddenly drop decompression support, but I
would suggest to stop emitting compressed data packets.  If this
proposal gathers traction, I would be happy to suggest a change to the
standard.

Cheers,
Justus

0: Section 5.3 of https://efail.de/efail-attack-paper.pdf