W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-webappsec@w3.org > August 2013

Re: Proposed CSRF countermeasure

From: Alex Russell <slightlyoff@google.com>
Date: Sun, 18 Aug 2013 13:34:15 -0700
Message-ID: <CANr5HFXQLwhpJ5h2+33KqGzLDJ+sz303V1vKjeCHNWTdL4XSJA@mail.gmail.com>
To: Mike Shema <mshema@qualys.com>
Cc: public-webappsec@w3.org
Why not enable this for sub sections of same origins as well? That'd make
it an ideal companion to the Navigation Controller for providing more
granular control.
On 18 Aug 2013 11:47, "Mike Shema" <mshema@qualys.com> wrote:

> At this year's BlackHat US conference a colleague and I proposed a CSRF
> countermeasure that would use a new CSP directive and the pre-flight
> behavior of CORS. The idea is to provide a mechanism for web apps to
> instruct the browser when cookies may or may not be included with a
> cross-origin request -- since excluding a cookie should prevent a victim's
> session context from being abused by a forged request.
>
> The blog post describing it is here:
> http://deadliestwebattacks.com/2013/08/08/and-they-have-a-plan/
>
> The idea differs from similar solutions like decorating a cookie with a
> "sameOrigin" attribute because it attempts to provide more flexibility with
> an exception-based mechanism and to fall in line with the push for
> header-based directives like CSP, X-Frame-Options, etc.
>
> I've included the relevant text of the post below in order to start a
> discussion about the feasibility of the concept, especially in terms of
> implementation and barriers to adoption by site developers.
>
> Thanks,
> Mike
>
>
> == The Proposed Solution ==
>
> SOS is proposed additional directives for the Content Security Policy. Its
> behavior includes pre-flight requests as used by the Cross Origin Resource
> Sharing spec.
>
> The name is intended to evoke the SOS of Morse code, which is both easy to
> transmit and easy to understand. If it is required to explain what SOS
> stands for, then “Session Origin Security” would be preferred.
>
> An SOS policy may be applied to one or more cookies for a web application
> on a per-cookie or collective basis. The policy controls whether the
> browser includes those cookies during cross-origin requests. (A
> cross-origin resource cannot access a cookie from another origin, but it
> may generate a request that causes the cookie to be included.)
>
> == Format ==
>
> A web application sets a policy by including a Content-Security-Policy
> response header. This header may accompany the response that includes the
> Set-Cookie header for the cookie to be covered, or it may be set on a
> separate resource.
>
> A policy for a single cookie would be set as follows, with the cookieName
> of the cookie and a directive of 'any', 'self', or 'isolate'. (Those
> directives will be defined shortly.)
>
> Content-Security-Policy: sos-apply=cookieName 'policy'
>
> A response may include multiple CSP headers, such as:
>
> Content-Security-Policy: sos-apply=cookieOne 'policy'
> Content-Security-Policy: sos-apply=cookieTwo 'policy'
>
> A policy may be applied to all cookies by using a wildcard:
>
> Content-Security-Policy: sos-apply=* 'policy'
>
> == Policies ==
>
> One of three directives may be assigned to a policy. The directives affect
> the browser’s default handling of cookies for cross-origin requests to a
> cookie’s destination origin. The pre-flight concept will be described in
> the next section; it provides a mechanism for making exceptions to a policy
> on a per-resource basis.
>
> Policies are only invoked for cross-origin requests. Same origin requests
> are unaffected.
>
> 'any' — include the cookie. This represents how browsers currently work.
> Make a pre-flight request to the resource on the destination origin to
> check for an exception response.
>
> 'self' — do not include the cookie. Make a pre-flight request to the
> resource on the destination origin to check for an exception response.
>
> 'isolate' — never include the cookie. Do not make a pre-flight request to
> the resource because no exceptions are allowed.
>
> Some examples of a header:
>
> Content-Security-Policy: sos-apply=sessionid 'isolate'
> Content-Security-Policy: sos-apply=sessionid 'self'
> Content-Security-Policy: sos-apply=info 'any'
>
> == Pre-Flight ==
>
> A browser that is going to make a cross-origin request that includes a
> cookie covered by a policy of 'any' or 'self' must make a pre-flight check
> to the destination resource before conducting the request. (A policy of
> 'isolate' instructs the browser to never include the cookie during a
> cross-origin request.)
>
> The pre-flight request enables the destination origin to modify a policy
> on a per-resource basis. Thus, certain resources of a web app may allow or
> deny cookies from cross-origin requests despite the default policy.
>
> The pre-flight request works identically to that for Cross Origin Resource
> Sharing, with the addition of an Access-Control-SOS header. This header
> includes a space-delimited list of cookies that the browser might otherwise
> include for a cross-origin request, as follows:
>
> Access-Control-SOS: cookieOne CookieTwo
>
> A pre-flight request might look like the following, note that the Origin
> header is expected to be present as well:
>
> OPTIONS https://web.site/resource HTTP/1.1
> Host: web.site
> Origin: http://other.origin
> Access-Control-SOS: sid
> Connection: keep-alive
> Content-Length: 0
>
> The destination origin may respond with an Access-Control-SOS-Reply header
> that instructs the browser whether to include the cookie(s). The response
> will either be 'allow' or 'deny'.
>
> The response header may also include an expiration in seconds. The
> expiration allows the browser to remember this response and forego
> subsequent pre-flight checks for the duration of the value.
>
> The following example instructs the browser to include a cookie with a
> cross-origin request to the destination origin even if the cookie’s policy
> had been 'self‘. (In the absence of a reply header, the browser would
> otherwise not include the cookie.)
>
> Access-Control-SOS-Reply: 'allow' expires=600
>
> The following example instructs the browser to exclude a cookie with a
> cross-origin request to the destination origin even if the cookie’s policy
> had been 'any'. (In the absence of a reply header, the browser would
> otherwise include the cookie.)
>
> Access-Control-SOS-Reply: 'deny' expires=0
>
> The browser would be expected to track policies and policy exceptions
> based on destination origins. It would not be expected to track pairs of
> origins (e.g. different cross-origins to the destination) since such a
> mapping could easily become cumbersome, inefficient, and more prone to
> abuse or mistakes.
>
> As described in this section, the pre-flight is an all-or-nothing affair.
> If multiple cookies are listed in the Access-Control-SOS header, then the
> response applies to all of them. This might not provide enough flexibility.
> On the other hand, simplicity tends to encourage security.
>
> == Benefits ==
>
> A policy can be applied on a per-cookie basis. If a policy-covered cookie
> is disallowed, any non-covered cookies for the destination origin may still
> be included. Think of a non-covered cookie as an unadorned or “naked”
> cookie — their behavior and that of the browser matches the web of today.
>
> The intention of a policy is to control cookies associated with a user’s
> security context for the destination origin. For example, it would be a
> good idea to apply 'self' or 'isolate' to a cookie used for authorization
> (and identification, depending on how tightly coupled the app treats those
> concepts with regard to the cookie).
>
> Imagine a WordPress installation hosted at https://web.site/. The site’s
> owner wishes to allow anyone to visit, especially when linked-in from
> search engines, social media, and other sites of different origins. In this
> case, they may define a policy of 'any' set by the landing page:
>
> Content-Security-Policy: sos-apply=sid 'any'
>
> However, the /wp-admin/ directory represents sensitive functions that
> should only be accessed by intention of the user. WordPress provides a
> robust nonce-based anti-CSRF token. Unfortunately, many plugins forget to
> include these nonces and therefore become vulnerable to attack. Since the
> site owner has set a policy for the sid cookie (which represents the
> session ID), they could respond to any pre-flight request to the /wp-admin/
> directory as follows:
>
> Access-Control-SOS-Reply: 'deny' expires=86400
>
> Thus, the /wp-admin/ directory would be protected from CSRF exploits
> because a browser would not include the sid cookie with a forged request.
>
> The use case for the 'isolate' policy is straight-forward: the site does
> not expect any cross-origin requests to include cookies related to
> authentication or authorization. A bank or web-based email might desire
> this behavior. The intention of isolate is to avoid the need for a
> pre-flight request and to forbid exceptions to the policy.
>
> == Notes ==
>
> The following thoughts represent some areas that require more
> consideration or that convey some of the motivations behind this proposal.
>
> This is intended to affect cross-origin requests made by a browser.
>
> It is not intended to counter same-origin attacks such as HTML injection
> (XSS) or intermediation attacks such as sniffing. Attempting to solve
> multiple problems with this policy leads to folly.
>
> CSRF evokes two sense of the word “forgery”: creation and counterfeiting.
> This approach doesn’t inhibit the creation of cross-origin requests
> (whereas the “non-simple” XHR requests under CORS would). Nor does it
> inhibit the counterfeiting of requests, such as making it difficult for an
> attacker to guess values. It defeats CSRF by blocking a cookie that
> represents the user’s security context from being included in a
> cross-origin request that attempts to abuse the user's relation to the
> destination web app.
>
> There may be a reason to remove a policy from a cookie, in which case a
> CSP header could use something like an sos-remove instruction:
>
> Content-Security-Policy: sos-remove=cookieName
>
> Cryptographic constructs are avoided on purpose. Even if designed well,
> they are prone to implementation error. They must also be tracked and
> verified by the app, which exposes more chances for error and induces more
> overhead. Relying on nonces increases the difficulty of forging (as in
> counterfeiting) requests, whereas this proposed policy defines a clear
> binary of inclusion/exclusion for a cookie. A cookie will or will not be
> included vs. a nonce might or might not be predicted.
>
> PRNG values are avoided on purpose, for the same reasons as cryptographic
> nonces. It’s worth noting that misunderstanding the difference between a
> random value and a cryptographically secure PRNG (which a CSRF token should
> favor) is another point against a PRNG-based control.
>
> A CSP header was chosen in favor of decorating the cookie with new
> attributes because cookies are already ugly, clunky, and (somewhat) broken
> enough. Plus, the underlying goal is to protect a session or security
> context associated with a user. As such, there might be reason to extended
> this concept to the instantiation of Web Storage objects, e.g. forbid them
> in mixed-origin resources. However, this hasn’t really been thought through
> and probably adds more complexity without solving an actual problem.
>
> The pre-flight request/response shouldn’t be a source of information
> leakage about cookies used by the app. At least, it shouldn’t provide more
> information than might be trivially obtained through other techniques.
>
> It’s not clear what an ideal design pattern would be for deploying SOS
> headers. A policy could accompany each Set-Cookie header. Or the site could
> use a redirect or similar bottleneck to set policies from a single resource.
>
> It would be much easier to retrofit these headers on a legacy app by using
> a Web App Firewall than it would be trying to modify code to include nonces
> everywhere.
>
> It would be (possibly) easier to audit a site’s protection based on
> implementing the headers via mod_rewrite tricks or WAF rules that apply to
> whole groups of resources than it would for a code audit of each form and
> action.
>
> The language here tilts (too much) towards formality, but the terms and
> usage haven’t been vetted yet to adhere to those in HTML, CSP and CORS. The
> goal right now is clarity of explanation; pedantry can wait.
>
> == Cautions ==
>
> In addition to the previous notes, these are highlighted as particular
> concerns.
>
> Conflicting policies would cause confusion. For example, two different
> resources separately define an 'any' and 'self' for the same cookie. It
> would be necessary to determine which receives priority.
>
> Cookies have the unfortunate property that they can belong to multiple
> origins (i.e. sub-domains). Hence, some apps might incur additional
> overhead of pre-flight requests or complexity in trying to distinguish
> cross-origin of unrelated domains and cross-origin of sub-domains.
>
> Apps that rely on “Return To” URL parameters might not be fixed if the
> return URL has the CSRF exploit and the browser is now redirecting from the
> same origin. Maybe. This needs some investigation.
>
> There’s no migration for old browsers: You’re secure (using a supporting
> browser and an adopted site) or you’re not. On the other hand, an old
> browser is an insecure browser anyway — browser exploits are more
> threatening than CSRF for many, many cases.
>
>
>
>
Received on Sunday, 18 August 2013 20:34:45 UTC

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