[cabfpub] Personal Certificates for ".onion"

Ryan Sleevi sleevi at google.com
Fri Nov 6 08:24:40 MST 2015

Forward on behalf of Alec

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Alec Muffett <alec.muffett at gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Nov 6, 2015 at 7:20 AM

Hi CA/Browser Forum!

I'm a software engineer and one of the authors of RFC 7686[0]; since 2001 I
have maintained a personal blog[1] and it's overdue for a complete software
refresh. I want to take advantage of Let's Encrypt[2] to provide normal
HTTPS certificates for the blog, and I want a 100% HTTPS deployment when I
am done.

I intend also to provide my blog with an Onion Address, thus my question:

On my blog I do not represent a company - I act purely as an individual; I
expect to easily get a "normal" domain-related certificate from Let's
Encrypt, but as an individual I will not be able to get an EV certificate
for my Onion Site as mandated by CA/B Forum Ballot 144[3].

This situation inhibits me from protecting my personal blog's Onion Site
with some form of Onion HTTPS certificate.

It further discriminates against my choice of software deployment as an

Perhaps I could run my blog as HTTP-over-Onion and HTTPS-over-Internet, but
this breaks my goal of a 100% HTTPS deployment. Clients of my Onion Site
would not have access to HTTPS-only "Secure" cookies and other
functionality which browsers today (or will soon) restrict to HTTPS[4]
sites, e.g. Camera & Microphone access. This would be an undesirable lack
of consistency.

It is not viable to hack the Tor Browser to support an "Onion-only" CA,
because only some portion of Tor traffic uses the Tor Browser; non-browser
apps which use Tor would not be able take advantage of such a kludge, and
thereby would not see the benefit of SSL.

In any case, ".onion" is now an official special-use TLD, and therefore
should be supported by official means.

After a hint from Ryan Sleevi - plus referring to the Mozilla CA
glossary[5] - I did some research and think that I need either an AV
(address validation) or an IV (individual validation) SSL Certificate for
my personal blog's Onion Site.

Discussing likely use cases with Runa Sandvik[6], we believe that people
who use Tor desire (at least) all of privacy, anonymity and integrity. The
option that seems most sympathetic to all of these requirements is the AV
(address validation) certificate. An AV certificate would provide an Onion
Address with an SSL certificate (and thus a form of persistent identity)
corresponding simply to an RFC822 email address. This would appear
extremely well-suited to users of Onion-backed instant messenger software,
such as Ricochet[7], especially those communicating without reference to
"real world" identities.

The alternative of an IV (individual validation) certificate appears closer
to the goals of the EV certificate, being a more expensive "absolute
identity" certificate that would (per the Glossary) require "a Driving
License, Passport, or National Identity Card" to get. This would be useful
for instances where people wish to publicly attest to ownership of what
they write / blog / post / publish, but would be less useful e.g. for
whistleblowers operating in repressive regimes.

Frankly I see a need for both, and would be (for this case in point) happy
to get one of either, but am also open to other alternatives which would
not require me to register a company to bootstrap.

So, finally, the question: how may I go about obtaining a suitable,
personal, Onion-capable SSL Certificate for my blog, please?

- Alec Muffett, London

[0] https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc7686
[1] http://dropsafe.crypticide.com/
[2] https://letsencrypt.org/howitworks/
[5] https://wiki.mozilla.org/CA:Glossary
[6] https://twitter.com/runasand/status/662341004373204993
[7] https://ricochet.im/

[ This e-mail is also posted at http://dropsafe.crypticide.com/article/11697
with additional context ]
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