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Date: Wed, 13 Nov 2013 11:54:17 -0500
From: Daniel Kahn Gillmor <>
Subject: cryptographic primitive choices [was: Re: Microsoft Warns Customers
 Away From RC4 and SHA-1]

On 11/13/2013 10:57 AM, Tim wrote:
> Using a weak encyption algorithm alone isn't a sufficient condition to
> issue a CVE against software, since often the context of the usage
> matters a lot.  If you use MD5 or SHA-1 for password hashing (with
> lots of salt and rounds), then there's no vulnerability.  If you use
> them for HMACs, then there's also likely no problem.  But if you use
> them for a signature with a public key, there is.

I'm inclined to try to apply your suggested guidelines to GnuPG:

gnupg uses SHA-1 as its default digest algorithm when making public key
signatures, both for cleartext "data signatures" and "certifications"
(OpenPGP keysigning).

Suggestions in the past to change the default digest algorithm to
SHA-256 have been resisted for the sake of interoperability, despite
every OpenPGP implementation in wide use having been capable of SHA-256
for many years.

Are you saying we should assign a CVE for the fact that GnuPG generates
data signatures over SHA-1 by default?  What about its generation of
certifications over SHA-1 by default?

What about for the fact that GnuPG validates and accepts OpenPGP
certificates made via SHA-1 (note that this is a different question from
whether generating them warrants a CVE)?

GnuPG also currently accepts and validates certifications and data
signatures made with MD5. (it prints a warning, but it still treats the
certifications as acceptable when computing certificate validity, for
example).  Should we assign a CVE for this as well?

As a reference point, the recent ENISA recommendations [0] recommend
digests of 160 bits (SHA-1) for "legacy" applications, 256 bits
(SHA-256) for "near-term future" (at least 10 years) applications and
512 bits (SHA-512) for "long-term future" (30 to 50 years, which they
acknowledge is difficult to predict).

I've been encouraging gnupg to move to stronger default cryptographic
primitives for years.  i would appreciate any guidance the community
wants to give about how seriously to take these configuration choices.



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