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Proxy Trust
A Conversation with Bob Scheifler, Part II
by Bill Venners
July 15, 2002

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The Bootstrap Proxy

Bob Scheifler: There is no magical answer to that. In the mechanism we defined, you bootstrap up. You might equate bootstrapping with cheating, but it is a way of getting started. To bootstrap up, I ask, "Do you trust the proxy?" I require that you give me a proxy that has no downloaded code.

I ask the service proxy, which I don't yet trust, for a bootstrap proxy. It gives me a new proxy back, the bootstrap proxy. The bootstrap proxy doesn't implement all of the interfaces that talk to the service. It just implements one interface that allows me to ask the question, "Does the service trust the proxy?" Before I trust the bootstrap proxy, however, I do an object graph to determine if the bootstrap proxy is, in fact, all local code. In this manner I can decide that I trust the bootstrap proxy at least for the purpose of asking you this one question.

Once I have decided I trust the bootstrap proxy, I make a call through it. I use code that I trust, and as part of that call I say, "Make sure when I ask this question that the server authenticates as Bill." Now I know I am really asking Bill the question and not somebody else. Through the trusted bootstrap proxy, I ask you to give me a verifier object I can use to test whether a proxy in my address space is trusted by you for your service. I don't send a proxy to you for you to verify because that has other problems. Instead, I ask you to send me a verifier I will run in my local address space.

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