January 11, 2008

What good are standards?

Over at mozo, Jonath asks the most surprising question:

My second question is this: as members of the Mozilla community, is this an effort that you want me (or people like me) participating in, and helping drive to final publication?

Absolutely not, on several grounds. Here's some reasons, off the top of my head.

Committees can't make security, full stop. Committees can write standards shaped like millstones around the neck, though.

Standards are *not* indicated (in medical sense) for UI because the user is *not* a computer and does not and cannot follow precise rules like protocols.

UI and security, together, probably requires skills that are not available, easily, to your committee. Branding doesn't sit well with coding, architecture can't talk to lawyers. Nobody knows what a right is, and the number of people who can bring crypto to applications is so small that you won't find them in your committee.

Security UI itself is an open research area, not an understood discipline that needs further explanation. Standards are indicated if you want to kill research, and move to promulgation of agreed dogma. This is sometimes useful, but only when the problems are solved; which is not indicated with phishing, now, is it?

Although I have my difficulties with some of the research done, if you take away the ability to research from the community ("that's not standard!"), you've got nothing to tell you what to do, and the enemy has locked you down to a static position. (Static defence stopped around the time of the invention of the canon, so we are looking at quite some history here...)

Anybody got any other reasons? Is there a positive reason here, anywhere?

Posted by iang at January 11, 2008 02:22 PM | TrackBack
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