On Thursday, March 22, 2018, Daniel Holth <email@example.com> wrote:
The feature was a building block that was intended to be used in much the same way that SHA package hashes are used, providing similar security to the ssh-style TOFU model, but less security than other imaginable public key systems. The idea was that it could provide more security in practice because the signatures could exist and be present with the archive, unlike gpg which provides loads of security in theory only. Unfortunately wheel signatures were never built up. I don't think anyone was tricked into believing the primitive provided security on its own.
The hashes serve as file integrity check but provide no assurance that they are what the author intended to distribute because there is no cryptographic signature.
File hashes help detect bit flips -- due to solar flares -- in storage or transit, but do not mitigate against malicious package modification to packages in storage or transit.
AFAIU, TUF (The Update Framework) has a mechanism for limiting which signing keys are valid for which package? Are pre-shared keys then still necessary, or do we then rely on a PKI where one compromised CA cert can then forge any other cert?
On Thu, Mar 22, 2018 at 2:21 PM Nathaniel Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org
Even if no maintenance were required, it's still a feature that promises to provide security but doesn't. This kind of feature has negative value.
I'd also suggest adding a small note to the PEP documenting that the signing feature didn't work out, and maybe linking to Donald's package signing blog post. I know updating PEPs isn't the most common thing, but it's the main documentation of the wheel format and it'll save confusion later.
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