Re: feature request: caching message arrival time

Subject:Re: feature request: caching message arrival time

Date:Mon, 03 Jun 2019 09:17:13 -0400

To:Örjan Ekeberg ,Ralph Seichter ,


From:Daniel Kahn Gillmor

On Mon 2019-06-03 10:57:15 +0200, Örjan Ekeberg wrote:
> Daniel Kahn Gillmor <> writes:
>> So Autocrypt defines the "effective date" of a message as the *earliest*
>> of two dates: the date that the message is first seen, and the Date:
>> header itself.  So we want our augmented Autocrypt header ingestion
>> routine to search for all other messages we know about from the sender
>> that have both a later firstseen= property *and* a later Date: header.
> Would it be possible to use the earliest date seen in any of the
> Received: headers as a safeguard against future-dated messages?

Sure, assuming that you trust the closest MTA in the chain of MTAs that
handed the message off to you, since an adversarial proximal MTA could
manipulate all the existing Received: headers as well.

But I'm a bit uncomfortable with it: this sort of protection actually
opens up a new attack vector that didn't exist before -- any MTA in the
chain can now make the message seem like it was actually from the
*past*, just by setting its own Received: header.

Technically, of course, any MTA could munge the actual Date: header as
well to perform this kind of attack, but that munging would at least
have the potential to be detected by anyone who cares to verify DKIM
headers; but Received: headers are impossible to cover with DKIM.

If there was no expense to the indexing and storage, i'd say it would be
good to just go ahead and index the earliest Received: header as well,
to have that data trivially available as a data point in evaluating
incoming messages.  But since it sounds like there's a cost (in
performance and storage) that would need to be profiled, i don't know
that i can say it's worth the tradeoff.

Since notmuch actually knows when it recieved the message, it seems like
it would be simplest (and less vulnerable to manipulation) to just
record that timestamp directly.

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