Minutes of a meeting held at University College London on 13 July 1995. The business of the meeting was to introduce the UKERNA Secure Email project to interested parties; to describe the current state of integration of PGP into mail user agents; to ascertain the current level of usage of PGP in the community and to formulate plans for improving the integration of PGP into commonly used MUAs.
The following people attended the meeting.
Adrian Barker UCL Piete Brooks Cambridge Alan Cox NERC Ines Day RAL Morna Findley Edinburgh Clifford W Fulford North London M Gahan UCL Simon Greaves Heriot-Watt Martin Hamilton Loughbrough R J Hynds IC Dennis Jackson UKERNA Paul Leyland Oxford Peter Macdonald Cambridge Daniel R Moore IC Philip Overy RAL Alan Robiette Warwick Sue Weston UKERNA Jonathan Wignall UKERNA Adrian Winckles NENE
Sue Weston introduced the Secure Email project, giving UKERNA's view of what was required and described UKERNA's role. Paul Leyland then gave a description of the capabilities of PGP at present, and what infrastructure presently exists. ``Infrastructure'' included: expertise; software archives; availability of PGP for various platforms; public key servers; integration with MUAs, newsreaders, editors and windowing interfaces; available literature; sources of expertise.
A brief statement of the legal position of PGP in the United Kingdom was given in response to questions from those present. Paul Leyland then reminded the meeting that UKERNA had commissioned a report, and that implementation would be the task of a follow-on study. However, it was expected that implementation of an enhanced infrastructure would be undertaken anyway.
The second part of the meeting consisted of a description, by Paul Leyland and Piete Brooks, of the scale of the problem. The email-using population of JANET is approximately one million people, the vast majority of whom know little or nothing about secure email. The size and nature of the community has several consequences: the infrastructure must be robust despite having to support a hundred times as many people who are presently using PGP world-wide; the integration with standard utilities must be a seamless as possible and there must be extensive back-up in the form of education, training, documentation, expertise and the like. The international and commercial environment must also be taken into account: JANET users communicate widely and secure email with non-JANET colleagues will be expected to be available; conversely, since PGP is an internationally used system, JANET must track changes elsewhere and contribute to them. At least part of the problem is deciding where efforts should be concentrated, which was the purpose of the original survey. Paul Leyland concluded by describing some of the parallel efforts which, although were not directly concerned with PGP --- MUA integration, were important background information. These included the setting up key certification services and public key servers; the development of a consensus on what is ``acceptable'' for the community in using PGP; the work being done by SURFnet in the Netherlands on a similar secure email system.
The following session had each person in turn describe their personal and their institutions' usage of secure email and views on the PGP. It became clear that a good number of individuals within the academic community are PGP users, but that very few institutions had formulated any kind of policy on secure email. A number of sites were concerned about legal constraints, largely arising from the manner in which some versions of PGP had escaped from the United States in violation of US export regulations. Uncertainty over whether ``commercial'' use of PGP was permissible in the United Kingdom was expressed; it was agreed that this topic required clarification. One representative pointed out that the Data Protection Act required personal data to be safeguarded, and that robust encryption was a good tool for that purpose. A number of people mentioned that certain users in their institutions were forbidden to send sensitive information by electronic mail. Several institutions were more interested in authenticity and integrity than privacy, examples of information required to be tamperproof including course-work sent by tutors to students. A fairly wide range of MUAs were in use by those present, but almost everyone described the integration with PGP as being barely adequate, at best.
Sue Weston then went through the results of the mail user agent survey. She stressed that the survey had been carried out to provide guidance only, and not with any ulterior motive, as some respondents had been worried that their favourite agent had not been in the top 95%. She reassured them that minority users would not be forbidden from using PGP, only that UKERNA-promoted efforts would be concentrated on the popular MUAs. She asked whether anyone present felt strongly that particular MUAs below the 95% cut-off should be included, but none were mentioned. Paul Leyland then gave a summary of the software in the Oxford anonymous ftp archive, indicating that some, though not all, of the groundwork had already been performed. The major omissions were, naturally, commercial mail utilities such as Simeon.
The meeting concluded with a call for volunteers to investigate and report on one or more MUAs of interest to them. The list of software, platform and investigators is as follows:
Philip Overy (RAL) will investigate interception on PC's to convert mail between mail agents and POP account. Private Idaho shell and PGP clip DOS mailers will be looked at by Pete Macdonald (Cambridge), UKERNA + Morna Findley and Clifford W Fulford will investigate their windows mailers using PGP