[cap-talk] Webkeys vs. the web

Karp, Alan H alan.karp at hp.com
Tue Mar 31 11:43:21 EDT 2009

Bill Frantz wrote:
> Assume that you have a webkey based system which is initially accessed by
> "logging on". That logon can be authenticated using a variety of
> techniques, none of which are particularly capability oriented. Once you
> are logged on, you are presented with a page which has all of your root
> authorities, expressed as links.
> If all of these links open in a different page, getting back to your root
> authorities is simple, since the root page is still open. Even if you close
> the root page, you can get it back by logging on again.
That would work.  People are used to logging in again after a period of inactivity.  

The problem I have with this scheme and others proposed on this list is that people have developed certain use patterns for URLs that are incompatible with using URLs to carry authority.  Just the other day, I sent the link to a news item I saw at Schwab.  Since I was logged in, there was also a link on the page to where I manage my account.  Had this been a webkey system, my money might be gone.  (Oh wait, that already happened.)

I have become convinced that we cannot treat webkeys as normal URLs because people have become too used to sharing them.  I believe that we need to develop a UI that uses webkeys without exposing them to the user.

Alan Karp
Principal Scientist
Virus Safe Computing Initiative
Hewlett-Packard Laboratories
1501 Page Mill Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304
(650) 857-3967, fax (650) 857-7029

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