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   RE: [xml-dev] The sky is falling! XML's dirty secret! Go back! It's a

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> Okay, maybe I am slow to see what's wrong here, but I don't 
> see what's wrong here.  I have questions about the security 
> solution presented, but isn't the problem itself legitimate?  
> If it isn't, would someone be kind enough to educate me why a 
> self-describing data file is not an easier target for data theft?

The main criticism of the article is that the author appears to believe
that obscurity provides security, whereas it is a basic premise of
security professionals that it doesn't. If you leave your car unlocked,
it is insecure whether or not you post a big red notice saying "this car
is unlocked". Sending XML in clear with tags saying "this is a credit
card number" is therefore no less secure than sending it with tags
saying "xwhgts". (And in any case, XML allows both).

Actually, I have for a long time been a heretic on this. My
grandmother's jewellery survived for five years in a house requisitioned
by the military by being hidden under a loose floorboard, I doubt it
would have survived if it had been in a locked cupboard. Hiding your
valuable data works well, providing no-one is making a determined effort
to find it. The risk of your car being stolen depends much more on where
you leave it than on whether it is locked. I therefore have some
sympathy with the author of this article, even though he is ignorant and
should not be writing about security.

Michael Kay
Software AG
home: Michael.H.Kay@ntlworld.com
work: Michael.Kay@softwareag.com 


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