What’s this ATE thing then???

You have probably seen messages flying around about the ATEs, or Assurer Training Events, and you’re probably wondering whether it applies to you. The answer is:

YES, most definately, if you are an Assurer.

This is your event, to update and to participate. More than that, it feeds into audit. This connection may be a little non-obvious, so this post is about explaining it to those wavering on their path to an ATE near them as to why you should help.

Recall that CAcert has today 3460 (and growing) Assurers around the world, and that they provide the critical information feeding into the certificates for the entire community.

That line — from Community Member to verification of information to the certificate — is of key interest to the Auditor. The certificate part is well-understood but what is less well understood is the verification part. How does the Auditor verify the actions of 3460 people spread across dozens of countries? Are they doing the job? Looking after Members? Mostly harmless or causing risks to rise?

Assurers mostly harmless?Verifying the Assurers across the planet is a challenge we must conquer, because our audit criteria says “A.2.y The CP details how the CA verifies that [Assurers] operate in accord with the CA’s policies.” Indeed, the auditor for a big famous-name CA simply declined to audit their web of trust, and the CA found it in its heart to drop the entire thing.

But it can be done. As auditor, I visited around 8 countries in 2009 for a tiny budget of €1500 and verified personally around 80 Assurers. The German community did a similar thing across Germany, and together these results gave us a good showing. It was still marginal; we need better and broader coverage. We need scaleability and we needed process, but we had our start.

From the 2009 experiment, the Assurance Team has designed a comprehensive programme to meet the audit criteria A.2.y, and the ATE is the leading part of that. At the Assurer Training Event, you the Assurer are brought up to date with changes (dramatic), informed on essential checks (of course) and then we individually record that process (carefully and slowly). All this is then collated and prepared for an end-of-season report.

The 2010 season is now underway. If you want to help CAcert’s audit process and improve on the results below, you should look out for an ATE near you. Who wouldn’t want to be involved??? Better yet, ask at events@c.o for how to run one.

2009 results

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