[OpenID] OpenID and phishing

Ka-Ping Yee openid at zesty.ca
Sat Jan 20 20:34:32 UTC 2007

On Sat, 20 Jan 2007, Chris Messina wrote:
> I want to underscore what Scott's said -- especially around the part
> that OpenID will stop and/or prevent phishing. Mike's likening
> phishing to XSS or buffer overruns is a great way to think about: it's
> simply one of those dark aspects of being on the web that requires a
> host of best practices (and sometimes luck) to avoid.

No, this is not a good analogy.  Deploying OpenID has no effect on the
incidence of buffer overruns.  Deploying OpenID *does* significantly
increase the risk of phishing.

> to try to dictate how OpenID must look or behave beyond the
> bit passing level is going to be an uphill battle...

I agree with you that it's not a protocol spec's job to dictate the UI.
It *is* the spec's job to clearly warn implementors that OpenID increases
phishing risk for the standard login UI -- used by most current OpenID
providers and demonstrated in practically every explanation of OpenID --
and that they are responsible for taking measures to prevent it.

> I feel that it's impossible for us to mandate or legislate matters
> that we don't fully understand, don't have the influence to enforce

The spec should openly acknowledge that the current practice, which is
also the most illustrated practice, is not safe, and outline why.

Suggestions as to how to make it safer, as long as they actually work
(and i don't mean perfectly, but at least well enough to make OpenID
no worse than the status quo) are worthwhile to provide as suggestions
but not to legislate, as you say.

On the other hand, it is probably a good idea to legislate or strongly
recommend *against* the specific practice we know to be dangerous --
redirecting from a validation request straight to a username/password
login form -- and this practice should not be used in examples.

Can we agree on that?

-- ?!ng

More information about the general mailing list