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Re: Documenting Timing Attacks in Rendering Engines

From: Vincent Hardy <vhardy@adobe.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2011 08:38:47 -0800
To: Adam Barth <w3c@adambarth.com>
CC: "public-fx@w3.org" <public-fx@w3.org>
Message-ID: <CB0B5F12.26CE5%vhardy@adobe.com>
From: Adam Barth <w3c@adambarth.com<mailto:w3c@adambarth.com>>
Date: Sat, 10 Dec 2011 00:37:56 -0800
To: Adobe Systems <vhardy@adobe.com<mailto:vhardy@adobe.com>>
Cc: "Tab Atkins Jr." <jackalmage@gmail.com<mailto:jackalmage@gmail.com>>, Charles Pritchard <chuck@jumis.com<mailto:chuck@jumis.com>>, "public-fx@w3.org<mailto:public-fx@w3.org>" <public-fx@w3.org<mailto:public-fx@w3.org>>
Subject: Re: Documenting Timing Attacks in Rendering Engines

Thanks for sharing the information from the F2F.  Unfortunately, at
this time, I'm not aware of any solutions to this problem.  CORS is
insufficient and mandating "that UAs do not give out information on
rendered content from timing", while a laudable goal, isn't possible
to implement.

Hi Adam,

I think the problem already exists regardless of shaders.

We already have filter effects on SVG content (which may include HTML through foreignObjects). They can impact the rendering time of content. And regardless of shaders / filters, it is possible to modify content and compute the rendering time to detect patterns.

I'll take a silly and extreme case. If an attacker finds that the rendering of a visited link took a lot more time than rendering a non visited link, he/she could find out, through timing, if a url had been visited by the victim. No shaders involved. May be the attacker just added a very large number of drop shadows to the style of visited links or something else that also impacted rendering.

So since we have leakage of information by timing the rendering, I think we need to understand how bad the problem/threat is. As discussed before, shaders and filters may accentuate the issue (because they can slow down rendering of specific colors etc...) but the core issue, I think, is that timing the rendering (in general) leaks information. May be we should find how to obfuscate timing in requestAnimationFrame so that information leakage is reduced/removed. I think Dean has ideas there.

I like to think that there are solutions to problems, even though not obvious at first :-). We may apply restrictions where needed. For example, I think CORS addresses some of the issues. Let's try to find out solutions to the other issues.

May be I am just an optimist :-)

Cheers,
Vincent
Received on Monday, 12 December 2011 16:39:19 GMT

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