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Brief Full Advanced Search Search Tips (Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.) Author(s): Bruce Schneier ISBN: 0471128457 Publication Date: 01/01/96 Search this book:
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----------- Nonrepudiation and Digital Signatures
Alice can cheat with digital signatures and there’s nothing that can be done about it. She can sign a document and then later claim that she did not. First, she signs the document normally. Then, she anonymously publishes her private key, conveniently loses it in a public place, or just pretends to do either one. Alice then claims that her signature has been compromised and that others are using it, pretending to be her. She disavows signing the document and any others that she signed using that private key. This is called repudiation. Timestamps can limit the effects of this kind of cheating, but Alice can always claim that her key was compromised earlier. If Alice times things well, she can sign a document and then successfully claim that she didn’t. This is why there is so much talk about private keys buried in tamper-resistant modules—so that Alice can’t get at hers and abuse it. Although nothing can be done about this possible abuse, one can take steps to guarantee that old signatures are not invalidated by actions taken in disputing new ones. (For example, Alice could “lose” her key to keep from paying Bob for the junk car he sold her yesterday and, in the process, invalidate her bank account.) The solution is for the receiver of a signed document to have it timestamped . The general protocol is given in : (1) Alice signs a message. (2) Alice generates a header containing some identifying information. She concatenates the header with the signed message, signs that, and sends...
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