Re: [TLS] HTTPS client-certificate-authentication in browsers

Henry Story <> Tue, 26 July 2011 02:34 UTC

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From: Henry Story <>
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Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2011 04:34:09 +0200
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Subject: Re: [TLS] HTTPS client-certificate-authentication in browsers
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On 26 Jul 2011, at 01:51, Martin Rex wrote:

> Anders Rundgren wrote:
>> [snip]
>> That the TLS CCA protocol doesn't even support "Logout" haven't made
>> it a logical choice for web developers either.
> Huh?  I have no clue what you're talking about.
> If the server wants to perform a logout operation,
> it can delete the TLS session cache entry on the server.
> But the Single Sign-On capability of the TLS client cert means
> that as long as the client credential is still available to the
> TLS client, the client will perform "transparent" reauthentication.
>> The button "Clear SSL state" in MSIE is an indication how horribly bad it
>> can go when security experts design systems for "people".
> Is your intention to get prompted again?
> From a usability standpoint, we prefer the "select automatically"
> setting and spare our users the client certificate selection popup.

The way to solve both of those issues is just a better User Interface.
At the Identity in the Browser W3C Workshop earlier this year [1]
we pointed to the work of Aza Raskin who showed very simply and clearly
what needed to be done:

The user in the browser should be aware for ever tab what client certificate
he is using for the content he is seeing, just as he is aware of the server 
identity. This would make logging out, a one click affair controlled from
the browser - the only place where that can be done correctly.

   Is there anything we can do to persuade browser vendors to put 
more energy into solving this issue?



Social Web Architect