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Re: [hybi] workability (or otherwise) of HTTP upgrade

From: Mark Nottingham <mnot@mnot.net>
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 2010 10:55:45 +1100
Cc: Adam Barth <ietf@adambarth.com>, hybi <hybi@ietf.org>, HTTP Working Group <ietf-http-wg@w3.org>
Message-Id: <F4C4C2F2-8D85-4020-9ACA-E02FFE8431FB@mnot.net>
To: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Thanks; will have a read.

Adam -- nice title, not a loaded question at all ;)


On 07/12/2010, at 10:27 AM, Maciej Stachowiak wrote:

> Adam posted his paper to the hybi list a few days ago, it is available here:
> http://www.adambarth.com/experimental/websocket.pdf
> I'd like to see more detail on the data than is found in the paper, but it seems to show a real-world hazard with use of Upgrade, since many intermediaries do not understand it and at least a few are confused into treating subsequent traffic as additional HTTP requests and responses.
> - Maciej
> On Dec 6, 2010, at 3:17 PM, Mark Nottingham wrote:
>> Adam --
>> It seems to me we can't really make any progress until we see that the assertion in your first sentence is true; it's certainly possible to construct an insecure use of Upgrade, but that doesn't prove that it's impossible to use it securely.
>> Any chance of getting that report?
>> Regards,
>> On 26/11/2010, at 5:54 PM, Adam Barth wrote:
>>> Using Upgrade for WebSockets is insecure in practice.  My colleagues
>>> and I have run an experiment using live traffic on the Internet and
>>> have successfully exploited a number of users using an Upgrade-based
>>> handshake (our exploit is harmless by proves the concept).  I'm still
>>> getting clearance from some affected vendors before releasing a report
>>> on the experiment publicly.  It's looking like I'll be able to release
>>> the report within a week.
>>> Upgrade might well be useful for other purposes, and I think
>>> definition in HTTP is fine.  The problem is that not everyone
>>> implements Upgrade properly, which leaves room for an attack to
>>> leverage an Upgrade-based WebSockets handshake in attacks.
>>> Kind regards,
>>> Adam
>>> On Thu, Nov 25, 2010 at 9:06 PM, Greg Wilkins <gregw@webtide.com> wrote:
>>>> I'm cross posting this message to both the hybi (websockets) and
>>>> http-bis mailing list as I think this is an issue that is very
>>>> relevant to both groups.
>>>> The hybi/websocket protocol, as currently proposed, has a handshake
>>>> mechanism that is roughly based on the HTTP upgrade mechanism.
>>>> Progress in the hybi/websocket mailing has ground to a halt because we
>>>> appear unable to get a clear consensus between the two advocated ways
>>>> forward:
>>>> 1) Make the "roughly based" HTTP upgrade mechanism a fully compliant
>>>> HTTP upgrade.
>>>> 2) Move away from HTTP upgrade and use another mechanism (potentially
>>>> CONNECT or SSL extensions)
>>>> To paraphrase the arguments against 1), there are some that are
>>>> concerned that an Upgrade based handshake will never be able to be
>>>> adequately secured against cross protocol attacks from ws-browsers to
>>>> non ws-servers. Also there is some concern that intermediaries might
>>>> not well support Upgrade and that other mechanisms might have a higher
>>>> success rate.
>>>> So I thought that it would be good to move that discussion from hybi
>>>> to HTTP-bis so we can stall progress here.... no I mean so that we can
>>>> get a wider view on the capabilities and vulnerabilities that might
>>>> apply to Upgrade.
>>>> My understanding is that Upgrade was included in HTTP for precisely
>>>> the reason that Websocket wishes to use it - ie to take an existing
>>>> HTTP connection and to upgrade the protocol run over the connection to
>>>> something with different capabilities than HTTP.
>>>> I would also expect that if there are problems with lack of Upgrade
>>>> support in intermediaries, then it would be easier to get
>>>> intermediaries to be updated to a standard generic HTTP mechanism
>>>> rather than some special purpose usage of CONNECT.
>>>> If websocket is unable to securely use Upgrade, then there must be
>>>> some fundamental flaw in Upgrade that should either be fixed in
>>>> httpbis (if allowed by the charter).   If Upgrade cannot be fixed,
>>>> then perhaps httpbis needs to somehow deprecate the mechanism and we
>>>> can look together for alternatives?
>>>> So I'd ask the httpbis readers, are there any reasons you know of that
>>>> would prevent Upgrade being used for websocket?
>>>> And I'd ask the hybi upgrade sceptics if they could perhaps voice
>>>> their concerns about Upgrade in more detail than my paraphrasing
>>>> above.
>>>> regards
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> hybi mailing list
>>>> hybi@ietf.org
>>>> https://www.ietf.org/mailman/listinfo/hybi
>> --
>> Mark Nottingham   http://www.mnot.net/
>> _______________________________________________
>> hybi mailing list
>> hybi@ietf.org
>> https://www.ietf.org/mailman/listinfo/hybi

Mark Nottingham   http://www.mnot.net/
Received on Monday, 6 December 2010 23:56:24 UTC

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