Certificate Revocation: Mechanics and Meaning

Barbara L. Fox and Brian A. LaMacchia


Revocation of public key certificates is controversial in every aspect: methodology, mechanics, and even meaning. This isn't so surprising, though, when considered in the context of current public key infrastructure (PKI) implementations. PKIs are still immature; consumers, including application developers and end-users, are just beginning to understand the implications of large-scale, heterogeneous PKIs, let alone PKI subtleties such as revocation. In this paper, which is the product of a panel discussion at Financial Cryptography '98, we illustrate some of the semantic meanings possible with current certificate revocation technology and their impact on the process of determining trust relationships among public keys in the PKI. Further, we postulate that real-world financial applications provide analogous and appropriate models for certificate revocation.

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Brian A. LaMacchia
This page last updated: 18 Aug 2008