Note: My Web pages are best viewed with style sheets enabled.
This announcement is for an event that was cancelled.
However, it illustrates how a key-signing party might be conducted.
OpenPGP users in
Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, California,
are invited to a PGP key-signing party
on Sunday, 25 January 2009,
at 11:00 am
at the home of
in Oak Park
Please register by 11 January 2009
Light refreshments will be served
OpenPGP Key-Signing Party
Copyright © 2001-2005, 2008 by David E. Ross
Oak Park is an unincorporated community in eastern Ventura County, immediately adjacent to Los Angeles County. The community is reached via the Kanan Rd or Lindero Canyon Blvd off-ramps of the Ventura Freeway (US 101). My house is approximately 2.5 miles north of the freeway.
The following cities are within 10 miles of Oak Park:
- Agoura Hills
- Westlake Village
- Thousand Oaks
- Hidden Hills
- Los Angeles: neighborhoods of Woodland Hills and West Hills
The following additional cities are within 20 miles of Oak Park:
- Simi Valley
- Los Angeles: neighborhoods of Canoga Park, Tarzana, Chatsworth, Encino, Reseda, and Northridge
I will disclose my address to those who register for the key-signing party by the 11 January deadline.
*** Begin Right Sidebar ***
Key ID (hex):
Key fingerprint (hex):
Key size (bits):
RSA-v.3 RSA-v.4 DSS/DH
Primary user ID:
Any other user IDs:
*** End Right Sidebar***
To attend this key-signing party, you must register. Download a copy of the contents of the white box at the right (using this link) and paste it into the composition window of your E-mail application.
Edit the message to provide the necessary data. Under Key type, remove the type that does not apply. Please provide the complete user ID, including both your E-mail address and any other text (e.g.: your name). Under Comments, indicate if you want an RSA v.3 key to be handled with the DSS/DH keys; also explain any ADK. For DSS/DH keys, Size should include both key sizes.
Before sending the message, sign the message using the key identified in the registration. Unsigned registrations cannot be accepted.
The message should be sent to me at with the Subject: PGP Key-Signing Party. Please send the message ASCII-formatted and not HTML-formatted.
Please register separately for each public key. This is necessary so that I can verify that you indeed possess each related private key and passphrase.
After the key-signing party, I will delete all registration and RSPV messages.
If you wish to participate in this key-signing party, your OpenPGP keys must satisfy the following qualifications:
- All keys must be self-signed. See Walther Soldierer's Why should I sign my own public key? for a discussion of why this is important. A key with more than one user ID must have each user ID self-signed by that key. (Modern PGP and GPG software automatically self-sign user IDs.)
- RSA v.3 keys should be compatible with PGP 2.6. This means the key size is not greater than 2048 bits and carries no DSS/DH or RSA v.4 signatures. You might not care. Someone else might care, however, and his RSA key should not be contaminated with a signature that PGP 2.6 cannot handle. I will test all RSA v.3 keys with PGP 2.6.2. (If you really do not care, let me know. Then, your RSA key can be processed with the DSS/DH keys.)
- DSS/DH keys should be compatible with PGP 8.0.3. This means your key does not use the BlowFish symmetric algorithm and use only the MD5 or SHA1 message digest algorithms. It also means that the key size does not exceed 4096/1024.
- All keys must be available through public key servers. Rather than asking you to send me your keys to be signed, I intend to download them from the Internet.
- The owner of a key must be able to receive E-mail addressed to the primary user ID of that key. I will verify this by actually sending messages to that address.
Preparing for the Party
Here, I describe the behind-the-scenes preparation for the key-signing party. No, you do not have to read this. Although one of the two major uses of OpenPGP is to hide information through encryption, however, assured use of OpenPGP requires that all operations be open for public review.
I am taking the following steps to prepare for the key-signing party:
- Install this Web page, describing the party.
- Post announcement messages in the alt.security.pgp and comp.security.pgp.discuss newsgroups.
- Post second announcement messages in those newsgroups two weeks later.
- As a PGP-signed registration message is received:
- Retrieve the indicated key from a public key server, strip away all signatures except the self-signature, and enter it into a RSA-only keyring (RSA v.3) or a DSS/DH keyring.
- For DSS/DH keys, check for ADKs (additional decryption keys).
- Compare the source E-mail address of the registration message with the user ID in the key.
- Verify the signature on the message using the retrieved key.
- Send an encrypted acknowledgement back to the sender. The message includes RSVP (répondez, s'il vous plaît). (Thus, I verify that whoever put the properties of a public key in the registration message also possesses the related private key and its pass-phrase.)
- Enter the key properties into a spreadsheet.
- Close registration on 11 January.
- To those who sent RSVP messages (the deadline is 19 January), reply with my home address and phone number and with driving instructions.
- Prepare a chart of the key properties on the RSA-only and DSS/DH keyrings and print copies.
The Conduct of the Party
The following substantially repeats the copyrighted information in Kevin W. Herron's Keysigning Party Guide and is used with his permission.
To participate in this key-signing party:
- You must be physically present. You cannot send a representative, proxy, or other substitute.
- You must bring two pieces of personal identification. One piece must include a picture ID (e.g.: passport, driver's license). The other piece may be another picture ID, first-class business mail addressed to you (e.g.: a utility bill), a check that you signed and then received back from the bank as paid and cancelled, et cetera.
- You must bring — on paper — your key ID, key type, fingerprint, and key size. (Key size and fingerprint together are important since it is possible for two RSA v.3 keys of different sizes to have the same fingerprint.)
Having a computer would be a hindrance
- If people are swapping discs with their keys on them, I will worry about viruses being introduced onto my PC.
- If people are carrying their secret keys with them and intend to do the signing at the actual meeting by typing their passphrase into a computer, then they are open to key-logging attacks. They are also at risk of having their secret keys compromised, either by surreptitious copying or through actual loss of media.
- It is much better to just exchange key details and verify ID and then do the signing when you get home to your own trusted computer.
We will not be using any computers during the key-signing party.
- At the beginning, I will hand out printed copies of the key properties to each attendee.
- In turn, each key owner reads the key ID, key type, fingerprint, key size, and user ID from the paper that he brought, not from the distributed listing. This is when each person asserts ownership of his key. If the owner's information matches the printout I distributed, then the other participants place a checkmark by the key. Also, if a key has more than one user ID, the owner should indicate whether those IDs should be signed or only the primary ID should be signed.
- After all keys have been identified, the attendees form a line. The first person walks down the line, having the other attendees check her IDs and again identifying her key. Upon reaching the end of the line, that person takes her place in line. The second person follows immediately behind the first person and so on. As long as each attendee checks the IDs of all other attendees, several may be walking down the line at the same time. If you are satisfied that a person is who he says he is, and that the key on the printout is his, you place another checkmark next to his key on your printout. Once the first person cycles back around to the front of the line, she has checked all the other IDs and her ID has been checked by all others.
On the listing I distribute, two checkmarks for a key mean that the owner of the key has indeed been verified. Attendees should retain their copies of the listing for use in later steps.
- After each person has identified himself or herself, the formal part of the meeting is over. You are free to leave or to stay and discuss matters of OpenPGP and privacy (or anything else) with fellow OpenPGP users. If everyone is punctual the formal part of the event should take less than less than an hour.
- Afterwards, I will provide a copy of each of the RSA-only and DSS/DH keyrings via my Web site. I will send a message with the URLs to all attendees.
- Each participant is to load the keys from my Web site into his own public keyring. After confirming that the key information on the keyring matches the printout that that was checked, sign the appropriate keys — those that have two checkmarks on the print-out. (With newer versions of PGP, the verification of properties may be done in the Import window prior to adding the keys to the public keyring.)
NOTE: Keys from the RSA-only keyring should be signed only by other RSA v.3 keys. Keys on the DSS/DH keyring may be signed by both RSA and DSS/DH keys.
- Each participant is responsible for uploading the keys he or she signed to a public key server. This should be completed by 1 February (one week after the party).
- Allowing a week for signed keys to propagate through the various networks of key servers, participants should wait until 8 February to download the signed keys from public key servers to capture the other signatures from the party. (This is a generous delay. I often see keys propagate in minutes, not days.)
30 November 2008