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Crypto boffins propose replacing certification authorities with ... Bitcoin?
Whatever your opinion of Bitcoin, it does stand as a high-quality intellectual achievement. Now, a group of researchers from Johns Hopkins are suggesting its cryptographic implementation could help solve the “certificate problem” for ordinary users.
Apart from whether or not they might be universally compromised by the spooks, a problem with Public Key Infrastructure – PKI – certificates is that they depend on users' trust of the certification authority (CA) that sits at the top of the trust hierarchy.
As we know, however, from incidents such as the DigiNotar hack, any loss of trust is fatal to a CA. Bitcoin did away with centralised trust in favour of its own cryptographic model, relying instead on a distributed transaction ledger.