[KI-LC] PKI vs Non-PKI based trust models

Bob Pinheiro kantara at bobpinheiro.com
Mon Mar 14 13:15:45 EDT 2011

Regarding U-Prove and failed efforts at consumer PKI:

For high assurance consumer applications that (should) require strong 
authentication, such as online banking, payments, access to patient 
health records and other sensitive personal information, what are the 
possibilities for doing strong authentication?

Since PKI doesn't seem to be a realistic possibility at the consumer 
level (at least not now), it seems that the current choice is limited to 
one-time passwords, at least for consistency with IAF and NIST 800-63 

U-Prove tokens are a potentially viable method for transmitting high 
assurance claims to a RP for these consumer apps.  But even so, the 
consumer will still need to strongly authenticate to either an identity 
provider (who issues the tokens), or to a cloud-based active client / 
token agent  / claims agent.  Or both (??).  With the demise of 
Cardspace, the use of a self-issued infocard for performing this 
authentication seems to be out.

Joni has asked for volunteers for a strategy subcommittee to help 
Kantara become more effective, attract more members, etc.  I'm wondering 
whether one possible strategic goal for Kantara could be to help 
transform PKI into something that is practical for use by consumers.

For example, could Kantara have a role to play in making it practical to 
provision client-side certificates to consumers, so that websites can 
enable the use of two-way SSL for consumers who have client-side 

A second possible strategic direction is to help in getting U-Prove to 
be implemented in a way that is usable by consumers.  There is a related 
effort in the form of a claims agent working group in Identity Commons, 
but that is not specific to U-Prove.

Maybe these thoughts are best discussed in the strategy subcommittee 
instead, but I just wanted to put this out there and get some sense as 
to whether anyone thinks these might be reasonable goals to pursue.  Or 
not?  Would such goals stray too far from Kantara's mission?


Bob P.

On 3/14/2011 10:50 AM, John Bradley wrote:
> I helped start Xcert software (now RSA KeyOn) 12 years ago to work on 
> federated identity issues using PKI client Auth.  Why PKI failed in 
> the consumer/internet space is a big topic.
> I should also mention that u-prove (zero knowledge prrof) cryptography 
> contains elements of both certificates and assertions.   I have 
> limited expectations for any short term traction on that however. 
> On 2011-03-14, at 8:08 AM, Rainer Hörbe wrote:
>> John, Patrick and I had a discussion about the pros and cons of 
>> federation models based on credentials versus assertions. The 
>> attached document is a preliminary result with conclusions like
>>     * PKI and non-PKI federation models need to be combined in most
>>       cases at higher LoA
>>     * To implement a federation an RFC 3647-style policy is
>>       insufficient; A more complete Trust Framework is needed
>>     * Whereas the Higher Education sector favors brokered trust,
>>       e-Government and Industry prefer the PKI approach. But it is
>>       not a question of one way or the other.
>> Request for feedback:
>> I wonder where this discussion should be homed. FIWG, BCTF and TFMM 
>> are related, and it is also an extrakantarian issue. Any interest to 
>> take over this discussion?
>> - Rainer
>> <pki vs non-pki.pdf>

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