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Charter Addition Proposal: "Trusted Code" for the Web

From: Anders Rundgren <anders.rundgren.net@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 23 Mar 2015 08:18:27 +0100
Message-ID: <550FBE43.60600@gmail.com>
To: public-webappsec@w3.org
Trusted Code for the Web

Existing security-related applications like authentication, payments, etc. are all based on that a core-part is executed by statically installed software that is supposed to be TRUSTED.

Since web-based applications are transiently downloaded, unsigned and come from any number of more or less unknown sources, such applications are by definition UNTRUSTED.

To compensate for this, web-based security applications currently rely on a hodge-podge of non-standard methods [1] where trusted code resides (and executes) somewhere outside of the actual web application.

However, because each browser-vendor have their own idea on what is secure and useful [2], interoperability has proven to be a major hassle.  In addition, the ongoing quest for locking down browsers (in order to make them more secure), tends to break applications after browser updates.

Although security applications are interesting, they haven't proved to be a driver.  Fortunately it has turned out that the desired capability ("Trusted Code"), is also used by massively popular music streaming services, cloud-based storage systems, on-line gaming sites and open source collaboration networks.

The goal for the proposed effort would be to define a vendor- and device-neutral solution for dealing with trusted code on the Web.

/This proposal should also be considered as an alternative to permissions for system-level APIs like Bluetooth: By using ///specific external APIs for each access-type or service,/ rich functionality is enabled without necessarily bothering users with hard to understand security prompts.//  That new APIs can be developed by anybody makes this scheme more agile than the "SysApps" approach./

1] An non-exhaustive list include:
- Custom protocol handlers.  Primarily used on Android and iOS. GitHub also uses it on Windows
- Local web services on  Used by lots of services, from Spotify to digital signatures
- Browser plugins like NPAPI/ActiveX.  Used (for example) by millions of people in Korea for PKI support but is now being deprecated
- Chrome native messaging.  Recent solution which enables Native <=> Web communication

2] https://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=378566
Received on Monday, 23 March 2015 07:19:24 UTC

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