W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-webapps@w3.org > October to December 2009

Re: CSRF vulnerability in Tyler's GuestXHR protocol?

From: Adam Barth <w3c@adambarth.com>
Date: Thu, 5 Nov 2009 20:31:53 -0800
Message-ID: <7789133a0911052031n49ddd00dyc35f3858d9cb499a@mail.gmail.com>
To: Tyler Close <tyler.close@gmail.com>
Cc: public-webapps <public-webapps@w3.org>, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
You seem to be saying that your description of the protocol is not
complete and that you've left out several security-critical steps,
such as

1) The user interface for confirming transactions.
2) The information the server uses to figure out which users it is talking to.

Can you please provide a complete description of your protocol with
all the steps required?  I don't see how we can evaluate the security
of your protocol without such a description.


On Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 12:05 PM, Tyler Close <tyler.close@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Adam,
> Responses inline below...
> On Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 8:56 AM, Adam Barth <w3c@adambarth.com> wrote:
>> Hi Tyler,
>> I've been trying to understand the GuestXHR protocol you propose for
>> replacing CORS:
>> http://sites.google.com/site/guestxhr/maciej-challenge
>> I don't understand the message in step 5.  It seems like it might have
>> a CSRF vulnerability.  More specifically, what does the server do when
>> it receives a GET request for https://B/got?A=secret123?
> Think of the resource at /got as like an Inbox for accepting an "add
> event" permission from anyone. The meta-variable "A" in the query
> string, along with the secret, is the URL to send events to. So a
> concrete request might look like:
> GET /got?site=https%3%2F%2Fcalendar.example.com&s=secret123
> Host: upcoming.example.net
> When upcoming.example.net receives this request, it might:
> 1) If no association for the site exists, add it
> 2) If an existing association for the site exists respond with a page
> notifying the user of the collision and asking if it should overwrite
> or ignore.
> Notice that step 6 is a response from Site B back to the user's browser.
> Alternatively, the response in step 6 could always be a confirmation
> page asking the user to confirm any state change that is about to be
> made. So, the page from the upcoming event site might say:
> "I just received a request to add a calendar to your profile. Did you
> initiate this request? <yes> <no>"
> Note that such a page would also be a good place to ask the user for a
> petname for the new capability, if you're into such things, but I
> digress...
>> The slides say "Associate user,A with secret123."  That sounds like
>> server B changes state to associate secret123 with the the pair (user,
>> A).  What stops an attacker from forging a cross-site request of the
>> form https://B/got?A=evil123?
> In the design as presented, nothing prevents this. I considered the
> mitigation presented above sufficient for Maciej's challenge. If
> desired, we could tighten things up, without resorting to an Origin
> header, but I'd have to add some more stuff to the explanation.
>>  Won't that overwrite the association?
> That seems like a bad idea.
>> There doesn't seem to be anything in the protocol that binds the "A"
>> in that message to server A.
> The "A" is just the URL for server A.
>> More generally, how does B know the message https://B/got?A=secret123
>> has anything to do with "user"?  There doesn't seem to be anything in
>> the message identifying the user.  (Of course, we could use cookies to
>> do that, but we're assuming the cookie header isn't present.)
> This request is just a normal page navigation, so cookies and such
> ride along with the request. In the diagrams, all requests are normal
> navigation requests unless prefixed with "GXHR:".
> We used these normal navigation requests in order to keep the user
> interface and network communication diagram as similar to Maciej's
> solution as possible. If I were approaching this problem without that
> constraint, I might do things differently, but that wasn't the goal of
> this exercise.
>> Can you help me understand how the protocol works?
> My pleasure. Please send along any follow up questions.
> (I would have chosen a different Subject field for these questions though)
>> P.S., It also seems that the protocol does not comply with the HTTP
>> specification because the server changes state in response to a GET
>> request.  Presumably, you mean to use a 307 redirect and a POST
>> request.  Unfortunately, that means the protocol will generate a
>> warning dialog in Firefox and will fail completely in Safari 4.
> I just said 303 because it was the most succinct way of expressing the
> relevant part of the communication. In deployment, a better solution
> would be to send back a normal 200 response with JavaScript code that
> does an automated form POST of the same data to Server B.
> --Tyler
> --
> "Waterken News: Capability security on the Web"
> http://waterken.sourceforge.net/recent.html
Received on Friday, 6 November 2009 04:32:46 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Friday, 27 October 2017 07:26:20 UTC