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Re: Moving forward on improving HTTP's security

From: James M Snell <jasnell@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 2013 09:22:06 -0800
Message-ID: <CABP7Rbdx9JG_m5Gfj_pqzftVHMB5C9OgPmQMBnp32S+2uQcPVQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: Mark Nottingham <mnot@mnot.net>
Cc: HTTP Working Group <ietf-http-wg@w3.org>
To be honest, much of this comes across to me as knee-jerk security
theater. Sure, using TLS is a good thing, but by itself it doesn't
come even remotely close to dealing with the range of fundamental
security and privacy issues that have come to light over the past few
months. If not handled properly, it could definitely give a false
sense of security.

On Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 2:01 AM, Mark Nottingham <mnot@mnot.net> wrote:
> The most relevant proposals were:

FWIW, I intend to make another proposal once (a) the base http/2
protocol is complete and (b) protocol extensions have been dealt with

> As a result, I believe the best way that we can meet the goal of increasing use of TLS on the Web is to encourage its use by only using HTTP/2.0 with https:// URIs.

-1. HTTP/2 should not be limited to TLS only. If someone wishes to
craft text that strongly encourages use of TLS in specific
applications of HTTP/2, then that would be fine. But the protocol
itself should not require it.

> This can be effected without any changes to our current document; browser vendors are not required to implement HTTP/2.0 for http:// URIs today. However, we will discuss formalising this with suitable requirements to encourage interoperability; suggestions for text are welcome.

FWIW, I have to concur with the others on this thread, Mark. The
language you're using here makes it sound like the decision has
already been made.

> To be clear - we will still define how to use HTTP/2.0 with http:// URIs, because in some use cases, an implementer may make an informed choice to use the protocol without encryption. However, for the common case -- browsing the open Web -- you'll need to use https:// URIs and if you want to use the newest version of HTTP.

Again, -1 to making this a normative requirement. Our task ought to be
ensuring that people who bother to read the specification are fully
informed of the choices they are making, and not to make those choices
for them. Yes, I get it, some security is better than no security, but
adding constraints that only partially address the problem, just
because it makes us feel good or because it looks better from a PR
perspective, is not the right approach.

What I think would be helpful is taking some time to draw up a description of:

  1. The specific types of threats to HTTP/1.1 and HTTP/2 we feel are
  2. The specific types of threats we collectively feel ought to be
addressed by HTTP/2, and the ones we feel are beyond our scope
  3. A broader list of options for how those threats can be mitigated

In other words, an I-D describing the relevant threat model.

Once we have that, we can make a more informed collective decision.

- James

> This is by no means the end of our security-related work. For example:
> * Alternate approaches to proxy caching (such as peer-to-peer caching protocols) may be proposed here or elsewhere, since traditional proxy caching use cases will no longer be met when TLS is in wider use.
> * As discussed in the perpass BoF, strengthening how we use TLS (e.g., for Perfect Forward Security) is on the table.
> * A number of people expressed interest in refining and/or extending how proxies work in HTTP (both 1.0 and 2.0), as discussed in draft-nottingham-http-proxy-problem (among many other relevant drafts).
> Furthermore, other security-related work in the IETF (see the perpass BoF) and elswhere (e.g., W3C) may affect HTTP. For example, a number of people have pointed out how weaknesses in PKIX affect the Web.
> Your input, as always, is appreciated. I believe this approach is as close to consensus as we're going to get on this contentious subject right now. As HTTP/2 is deployed, we will evaluate adoption of the protocol and might revisit this decision if we identify ways to further improve security.
Received on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 17:22:54 UTC

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