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Back to school... As a student

Although it was a much larger step when I made a similar announcement seven years ago, when I started my Specialization, it is still a big challenge ahead, and I am very happy to pursue this: I have been admitted to a PhD program at UNAM, the university I have worked at for almost 20 years, and one of the top universities in Latin America. What program will I be part of? Doctorado en Ciencia e Ingeniería de la Computación (Computer Science and Engineering Doctorate… Quite a broad program name, yes, sounds like anything goes).

I am happy to say I managed to do as I hoped seven years ago. As that blog post says, I managed to keep an eye on my keyring-maint duties as well — Will even try to link that work with what I do at school. Over the years I spent pursuing my Specialization and Masters degrees at IPN ESIME, I managed to publish two academic papers on the keyring-maint work: Strengthening a Curated Web of Trust in a Geographically Distributed Project and Insights on the large-scale deployment of a curated Web-of-Trust: the Debian project’s cryptographic keyring.

Since that time, several relevant things have happened. Mainly, the SKS Keyserver panorama started looking quite bleak: Various attacks such as the poisoned certificates or *certificate flooding have been mounted against the keyserver network, having as a direct outcome the questioning of the future of the decentralized transitional trust model we take for granted in the OpenPGP world. The global SKS keyserver network has quickly eroded, and its continued functioning is no longer something we can take as a given. Different methods have come up, attempting to answer to this situation, such as WKD and DANE, but they all lose something that can be seen as the essence, almost the heart of the distributed, decentralized Web-of-Trust paradigm: The ability to carry the full certificates for the keys.

And that’s the problem I will try to tackle with my work: How can we, in the light of the known weaknesses, keep a working, decentralized, distributed trust scheme?