W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-web-security@w3.org > September 2015

Re: A Somewhat Critical View of SOP (Same Origin Policy)

From: Alex Russell <slightlyoff@google.com>
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 2015 17:48:46 -0400
Message-ID: <CANr5HFUOZ0UgmWOWvHtrkGunqDvP4FaKX9Gie_+ZNXZ7kbvFdA@mail.gmail.com>
To: Henry Story <henry.story@co-operating.systems>
Cc: Anders Rundgren <anders.rundgren.net@gmail.com>, "Mike O'Neill" <michael.oneill@baycloud.com>, Tony Arcieri <bascule@gmail.com>, public-webappsec@w3.org, "public-web-security@w3.org" <public-web-security@w3.org>, Rigo Wenning <rigo@w3.org>
On 15 Sep 2015 5:29 pm, "Henry Story" <henry.story@co-operating.systems>
>> On 15 Sep 2015, at 21:14, Tony Arcieri <bascule@gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Mon, Sep 14, 2015 at 10:08 AM, Rigo Wenning <rigo@w3.org> wrote:
>>> The same argumentation has already be used during the rechartering of
the WebCrypto Group. The privacy argument used by people from one of the
largest origins is funny at best. If I use my token with A and I use my
token with B, A and B have to communicate to find out that I used them both.
>> Speaking as someone who attended WebCrypto Next Steps, the common theme
to me was actually a fundamental incompatibility between PKCS#11 APIs and
how web browsers operate. Many talks alluded to some sort of "bridge" or
"gateway" or "missing puzzle piece" to connect the Web to PKCS#11 hardware
tokens. Unfortunately there were no concrete proposals from either a
technical or UX perspective. It was mostly a dream from all of the vendors,
realized in slightly different vague handwavy visions, of how someone could
swoop in and magically solve this problem for everyone. Clearly dreams
without actual technical proposals didn't go anywhere.
>> The reality is the SOP is the foundational security principle of the
web. Period. Introducing SOP violations is a great way to ensure browser
vendors don't adopt proposals.
> SOP is a technical Principle, which is trumped by the legal principle of
User Control. I made this point in the thread to the TAG
> https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-tag/2015Sep/0038.html
> and it fits the TAG finding on Unsactioned Tracking
> http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/doc/unsanctioned-tracking/
> Current browsers respect user control with regard to certificates - some
better than others. It can be improved, but that can best be done through
legal and political pressure.
> If the user is asked if she wants to authenticate with a global ID to a
web site, then that is her prerogative.
> As long as she can select the identity she wishes to use, and change
identity when she wants to, or become anonymous: she must be in control.
> Privacy is actually improved in distributed yet connected services. By
having distributed co-operating organisation each in control of their
information, each can retain their autonomy. As an example it should be
quite obvious the the police cannot share their files with those of the
major social networks, nor would those have time to build the tools for the
health industry, nor would those work for universities, etc. etc... The
world is a sea of independent agencies that need to look after their own
data, and share it with others when needed. In order to share the data,
they need to give other agents access, they need to *control* access, which
means you need some form of global identities that can be as weak as
temporary pseudonyms, or stronger. In fact they can evolve out of
pseudonyms into strong identifiers on which a reputation has built itself.
> Of course anonymous or one site identities should be the basis of that
and FIDO provides that, but not more.
> On top of FIDO you can see OpenID, SAML and OAuth profiling themselves
very clearly in the FIDO UAF Architectural Overview:
> These global identities based on URIs won't go away in a Web that is a
web of billions of organisations, individuals and things, connected and
>> Going back to your original point though, what you're describing is of
course extremely commonplace on the web. Web sites often leverage multiple
advertising and analytics networks, so "A and B communicating" (perhaps
vicariously via ad or analytic network C) is so exceedingly commonplace I'm
not sure what you're even suggesting. This already happens practically
everywhere all the time, to many commonly shared third parties who very
much want stable identifiers to link users.
>> There are of course ample other signals by which ad and analytics
networks can track people with (IP addresses and "supercookies" certainly
come to mind), but by brushing it off, you're actually suggesting that
cryptographic traceability should be built into the fundamental
cryptographic architecture of the Web. This is a slippery slope argument,
i.e. things are bad, so why not make them worse?
>> There's no going back from that, short of throwing it all away (as what
is likely to happen to the <keygen> tag soon) and starting over from
scratch (ala FIDO).
> Here is the picture from the architectural UAF document mentioned above.
(It fails to mention that in many cases after an OAuth or OpenID the
Relying Party communicates with the Federation Party until recently called
the identity provider.)  So really FIDO is just setting a super strong
cookie with some cryptographic properties which then more and more often
needs to be bolted onto actual Identity Providers. All of this relies on
server side cryptographic keys tied to TLS, so that the major parties are
in effect using certificates for global authentication.
> ( They could have also have added WebID to the mix http://webid.info/ but
that is anoyingly simple, which is why I like it :-)
> Now WebID is not tied logically to TLS [1]. We have some interesting
prototypes that show how WebID could work with pure HTTP.
>   • Andrei Sambra's first sketch with
>       https://github.com/solid/solid-spec#webid-rsa
>   • Manu Sporny's more fully fleshed out HTTP Message signature
>       https://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-cavage-http-signatures-04
> these two could be improved and merged.
> This would allow a move to use strong identity in  HTTP/2.0 ( SPDY ) ,
which could then be supported by the browsers who could build User
Interfaces that give the users control of their identity with user
interfaces described by your Credentials Management document developed here
> Funnily enough one should already be able to try Andrei or Manu's
protocol in the Browser with JS, WebCrypto, and ServiceWorkers [2]. There
are many things to explore here [3] and the technology is still very new.
> But this shows that WebCrypto actually allows one to do authentication
across origins. ( And how could
> it not, since it is a set of  low level crypto primitives? ). A Single
Page application from one site can publish
> a public key and authenticate to any other site with that key.
> So its a bit weird that SOP is invoked to remove functionality that puts
the user in control in the browser,

This assessment is patently false. What's being proposed for removal is
silent, automatic installation of keys without user consent. To treat that
as removal of user control is perverse bordering on prevarication.

> and that WebCrypto is then touted simultaneously as the answer, when in
fact WebCrypto allows Single Page Applications (SPA) to do authenticate
across Origins, and do what the browser will no longer be able to do.
> Lets make sure the browser can also have an identity. It's an application
after all!
> Let's stop using SOP as a way to shut down intelligent conversation.
Let's think about user control as the aim.
> Henry
> [1] as it may seem from the TLS-spec which we developed first because it
actually worked.
> http://www.w3.org/2005/Incubator/webid/spec/
> [2] http://www.html5rocks.com/en/tutorials/service-worker/introduction/
> [3] https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-tag/2015Sep/0051.html
> [4] which is why it is wrong to remove 15 year old <keygen> technology on
which a lot of people depend
> around the world as explained so well by Dirk Willem Van Gulik on the
blink thread before a
> successor is actually verified to be working.
>  See Dirk's messages here:

>  Also note that Japan is moving to eID
>     http://www.securitydocumentworld.com/article-details/i/12298/
>  that sweden has a huge number of people there, and that it might not be
too good to get noticed by
> states: Russia and the EU just  this month started anti trust
investigations  against Google for example.
>> --
>> Tony Arcieri
Received on Tuesday, 15 September 2015 21:49:17 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Friday, 17 January 2020 18:09:38 UTC