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> It's *slightly* better, in that it guards against passive sniffing attacks
> on the data in transit. You're right that it doesn't guard against an
> active MITM attack.
How is that better, really? Run tcpdump or ettercap... Either of the tools are off the shelf. It doesn't take a great deal of skill for either. Just because a piece of software is doing an extra step or three doesn't mean an attacker has to do significantly more work. O(1) + O(1) = O(1)
What modern networks don't permit active modification of packets in realtime if you have the right access to the data? I can conceive of some hypothetical radio broadcast or other physical media which, if carefully designed, could make MitM attacks difficult by virtue of the media itself (along the lines of a poor man's quantum crypto line), but I don't know of any in use. Do enlighten me if you do.