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RE: comments on access control for cross-site requests - WSC member

From: Jon Ferraiolo <jferrai@us.ibm.com>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 08:55:08 -0800
To: "Doyle, Bill" <wdoyle@mitre.org>
Cc: "Jonas Sicking" <jonas@sicking.cc>, "WAF WG (public)" <public-appformats@w3.org>, public-appformats-request@w3.org
Message-ID: <OFB696C6BF.5F30D8AF-ON882573B5.005AC2BB-882573B5.005CF045@us.ibm.com>

Hi Bill,
We have had considerable discussion at OpenAjax Alliance (within the
Security Task Force) about the security implications of Access Control.
Personally, I share your concerns and opinions, especially how the server
transfers access control to the client browser and how the data is sent all
the way to the client and the client is trusted to discard the data if
access is not allowed.

But so far no one at OpenAjax Alliance is objecting to the security aspects
of the Access Control specification. While we believe that Access Control
might help malicious sites to exploit vulnerabilities on insufficiently
protected servers because it provides a more convenient means for malicious
sites to do bad cross-domain things, such as CSRF, most of the OpenAjax
members have accepted the argument that those servers are already exposed
and already need to be fixed.  Another reason why we haven't objected to
the security aspects is that servers have to "opt-in" (by either adding a
processing instruction at the top of the XML file or adding a new HTTP
header to the response).

Bottom-line is that if my company has any web services that deliver
restricted information, I would implement my server with server-side
authentication and include various CSRF protection mechanisms, such as
session tokens that don't get saved in cookies, and I wouldn't opt-in to
Access Control for those scenarios.

So, we haven't been able to identify any reason that Access Control would
harm web security any more than what exists today. Therefore, no big
negatives. However, personally I'm not sure how much Access Control will
get adopted either within browsers (e.g., will IE implement it?) or in
conjunction with web services (how many sites will choose to opt-in). As a
result, I'm not convinced about how much benefit the industry will get from
Access Control. The good news is that it looks like the good folks at
Mozilla are implementing Access Control in Firefox 3. Therefore, we can
learn from real-life experimentation once FF3 hits the streets on both the
negative side (e.g., have any security problems come up?) and on the
postiive side (e.g., is anyone opting in?).


             "Doyle, Bill"                                                 
             >                                                          To 
             Sent by:                  "Jonas Sicking" <jonas@sicking.cc>, 
             public-appformats         "WAF WG (public)"                   
             -request@w3.org           <public-appformats@w3.org>          
             12/18/2007 06:37                                      Subject 
             AM                        RE: comments on access control for  
                                       cross-site requests - WSC member    

Hi Jonas thank you for the response,

Not sure how the web server protects itself - "site should be protected
from any other requests until it grants access"

I understand that the 3rd party can restrict access. The requirement is
for the web server to have a mechanism (i.e. configuration setting or
other type of control) that allows or disallows access control for
cross-site requests and the web server has the ability to restrict 3rd
party access to settings that are controlled by the web server.

Issue is that the web server owner looses Information Assurance (IA)
control, this is an issue for my customers. IA control cannot be handed
over to a 3rd party. For my customers, the web server owners need to
manage the IA settings.

Bill Doyle

-----Original Message-----
From: Jonas Sicking [mailto:jonas@sicking.cc]
Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2007 1:34 AM
To: Doyle, Bill; WAF WG (public)
Subject: Re: comments on access control for cross-site requests - WSC

Doyle, Bill wrote:
> 1.        The cross-site scripting protocol must include strong
> cryptographic mechanisms to ensure that the server can restrict use
> the capabilities to authenticated and authorized clients.

The third party site can require that all communication between the
third party server and the browser is done using https by simply
all access requests done through any other means.

The third party site can also require that all communication between
browser and the requesting site is done over https by only
https servers.

Does this satisfy the request?

Additionally, it is possible to extend this further in the future by
adding additional attributes to require even stronger protection. This
is done in a forwards compatible manner by saying that a current
implementation that sees any unrecognized attributes must deny access.

> 2.        The protocol must provide the ability for a server to
> fine grained access control. e.g. a server should be able to limit
> access to a specific client noted in item 1.

Any type of access, including write access can be limited according to
the rules described above.

> 3.        Protocol must be able to restrict inheritance of a clients
> access control rights by other clients.

I don't quite understand this question.

> 4.        Resources must be protected until access is granted; the
> security consideration that resources are not revealed is not strong

The only requests that can be made without explicit authorization are
GET requests. These requests are already possible today. The site
be protected from any other requests until it grants access.

Best Regards,
Jonas Sicking

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Received on Tuesday, 18 December 2007 17:11:23 UTC

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