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PRISM-PROOF Email. Phillip Hallam -Baker Comodo Group Inc. <A Code Name>. Not just one program. Not just one government. Not just governments. Not just email. Goal. Make Internet security ubiquitous for 2 billion users. Personal Privacy Environment. Like making lightning strike.

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Prism proof email


Phillip Hallam-Baker

Comodo Group Inc.

Not just one government
Not just one government

Prism proof email

Make Internet security ubiquitous for

2 billion users

Why the web succeeded
Why the Web succeeded:

  • Open Standards

    • HTML / HTTP / URI

    • Build on legacy (e.g. SGML)

  • Open architecture

    • Don’t tie users to one publication model

  • Public domain Reference code

    • Please take our code and sell it

  • Some good technical innovations

    • URIs

    • Punt on the hard stuff (indexing, consistency)

Prism proof email

  • Open Standards (or proposals)

    • All specifications are submitted as Internet Drafts

    • Build on legacy (e.g. S/MIME)

  • Open Architecture

    • Don’t tie users to one trust model

  • Open Source Code

    • Generated from the specifications

  • Some technical choices

    • Strong Email Addresses

    • Punt on the hard stuff

Dividing the problem
Dividing the Problem

Share this

Research here

Trust Model


  • Mail system integration

  • Distribution infrastructure

Why i am here
Why I am here

  • Recruit

    • Users

    • Testers

    • Coders (not just for crypto!)

    • Web Site (Bootstrap)

    • Architects

    • Reviewers

    • Evangelists

Xanadu the web in 1960
Xanadu, the Web in 1960

You already have email encryption
You already have email encryption

So why isn t email secure today
So why isn’t email secure today?


Limited machine capabilities

The cryptowars

Standards wars

Public key infrastructure
Public Key Infrastructure

Use Digital Signatures to authenticate keys

Use Public key encryption to exchange symmetric keys

Use symmetric key encryption to protect data

Pem 1993
PEM (1993)







  • Privacy Enhanced Mail

    • Hierarchy of Certificate Authorities


  • PGP Web of Trust

    • Everyone is a peer

  • S/MIME

    • Rework of PEM with multiple roots of authority

15 year standards stalemate
15 Year Standards Stalemate


  • Deployed in 5 billion clients


  • Monopoly of mindshare

Why has neither won
Why has neither won?



Incomprehensible to many

Too much hassle to use

  • Too hard to get certificates

  • Too much hassle to use

Frictionless security

Frictionless Security

Frictionless security1
Frictionless Security

  • Secure system must require no additional effort

    • No additional configuration

    • No additional steps in use

    • No maintenance or renewals

    • Except if the user wants to verify that their security is correct.

Ppe 0 1

PPE 0.1

(Windows Live Mail Experience)

Configuring to receive encrypted mail
Configuring to receive encrypted mail

  • Run Key Manager, Generates

    • Strong email address with

    • Phinger

    • Recovery codes

  • Publish Phinger on Web Server

  • Now anyone can send you encrypted mail

    • And you can read it on 95% of EXISTING clients

Help wanted
Help Wanted!

  • UI experts to perform integration for

    • Outlook

    • Thunderbird

    • Apple Mail

    • iOS Mail

    • <Android client>

Personal pki
Personal PKI



Monthly Encryption

Per Device Authentication

Strong email address
Strong Email Address



<phingerprint> The fingerprint of the root of Alice’s personal PKI hierarchy

<account> The account to send the email to

<domain> Website where the phinger is published


  • Contains

    • Personal Public key hierarchy

      • Offline Master / Online / Use Keys

    • Policy Statements (per protocol)

      • Email

        • SMTP to with STARTTLS phingerprint = X

        • S/MIME preferred under cert/key X.

        • By invitation only use cert/key Y.

Keymanager 1 0
[ KeyManager 1.0 ]

  • Publication to the Web site is automatic

    • Enroll certificate in key server infrastructure

    • Make use of Google Certificate Transparency

  • Register encrypted secret keys

    • To enable recovery if they are lost

    • To enable easy registration of a second device

  • Can tell people ‘encrypted mail is preferred’

Sending a secure email
Sending a secure email

Mail Client



  • Introducing PEEP

    • Privacy Enhancing Proxy

Peep 0 1
PEEP 0.1

  • Looks for messages sent to a Strong Email Address

    • These MUST be sent encrypted

    • Retrieves the phinger

    • Encrypts the message as directed

      • (Currently only S/MIME could be PGP as well)

Peep 1 0
[ PEEP 1.0]

  • Checks every outbound address

    • Queries a service to see if the user prefers encrypted mail

    • Introduces trusted parties

      • Certificate Authorities

      • Peers

Ppe 1 0
PPE 1.0

Interesting research here

Key Broker

Key Broker



Key Manager

Mail Sender


  • Current research issue

    • How to make it easy to endorse another person?

    • QR codes make strong email address transfer easy.

      • Please don’t laser engrave your iPhones yet

Prism proof email

  • End to End Encryption defeats (some) Spam filters

    • So you might not want to use end to end encryption all the time.

      • Instead publish the encryption key of your spam filter

    • Only release your end to end key to selected parties

      • Require messages to be signed by approved sender


  • Privacy Protected Everything provides

    • Secure email encryption

      • Security rests on well tested/reviewed standards

    • Frictionless security

      • No additional user effort at all

  • I need your help to make it happen.