Welcome to the Monkeysphere!

2008-01-08 2-minute read

After months of coding and testing, the Monkeysphere had it’s first public announcement.


You can read the announcement for the technical details (or just go to the web site itself).

For me, the most important aspect of the Monkeysphere is: placing security in the hands of us, the users. The Monkeysphere is another extension of the web of trust, perhaps the most powerful approach to security in a densely populated world. With the web of trust we build our own networks of trust: I assign trust to my friend Jose. If Jose verifies someones identity, then I trust that verification. And so on.

The deep dark secret on the Internet, particularly for folks on the left, is that most Internet security systems operate differently. Using an alternative system called x509, they rely on the entire Internet designating a limited number of “certificate authorities” to verify the identities of the people we work with. Most of these authorities are for profit corporations. But even if they weren’t for profit, why a hierarchical model? Is this the world we want to build on the Internet?

The Monkeysphere introduces the ability to use the web of trust when we connect to servers using secure shell or secure FTP. While the use secure shell and secure FTP is mostly limited to system administrators and web developers, the introduction of the web of trust into this aspect of the Internet is a major and exciting first step toward introducing it even further, into security contexts used by everyone.