- There is a conflict between the needs of preservationists to ensure future researchers access to someone's e-mail, and the someone's need to prevent access now to avoid the kind of public embarrassment that has befallen John Podesta, Sarah Palin, and the clients and staff of Mossack Fonseca among many others. End-to-end encryption is the only way to satisfy the someone's need, but twenty years ago Alma Whitten and J.D. Tygar's Why Johnny Can't Encrypt: A Usability Evaluation of PGP 5.0 explained why people found end-to-end encryption too hard to use. What has changed in the two decades since is that communication between the mail client and the mail agent is now typically encrypted, preventing eavesdropping. But the more common and devastating threat is compromise of credentials, perhaps by phishing or by warrant, allowing the attacker unrestricted access to the mail stored in plaintext on the mail server (not to mention the advertisment placement system). In Making It Easier to Encrypt Your Emails John S. Koh, Steven M. Bellovin, and Jason Nieh describe:
E3, a client-side system that encrypts email at rest on mail servers to mitigate the most common cases of attacks today. E3 also demonstrates techniques for making key management simple enough for most users, including those who use email on multiple devices.I would love to try this, but it would certainly make the task of preserving my e-mail for my future biographer to study much harder, if not impossible. For the full details you'll need to read the paper behind the ACM's paywall (or here).
I'm David Rosenthal, and this is a place to discuss the work I'm doing in Digital Preservation.
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Interesting Articles From Usenix
Unless you're a member of Usenix (why aren't you?) you'll have to wait a year to read two of three interesting preservation-related articles in the Fall 2019 issue of ;login:. Below the fold is a little taste of each of them, with links to the full papers if you don't want to wait a year:
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