W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-webappsec@w3.org > November 2016

Re: Signed and indexed packaging proposal.

From: Dmitry Titov <dimich@google.com>
Date: Sat, 19 Nov 2016 04:10:27 +0000
Message-ID: <CACf=Uneee-P1C9yDdOU9rDkDvWfWYB7Mux=CpHYfxWrFuHK=4Q@mail.gmail.com>
To: Martin Thomson <mt@mozilla.com>
Cc: "Michael[tm] Smith" <mike@w3.org>, Mike West <mkwst@google.com>, "public-webappsec@w3.org" <public-webappsec@w3.org>, Brad Hill <hillbrad@gmail.com>, yan zhu <yan@mit.edu>, Alex Russell <slightlyoff@google.com>
Hi Martin, thanks for your points! Very useful!

I have some questions and answers below:

On Fri, Nov 18, 2016 at 2:22 AM Martin Thomson <mt@mozilla.com> wrote:

> On Fri, Nov 18, 2016 at 1:54 PM, Dmitry Titov <dimich@google.com> wrote:
> > Sorry for broken links, github decided to block the repository, i pinged
> > their customer support, it looks working now:
> > https://github.com/dimich-g/webpackage/blob/master/README.md
> It seems like this is going to run afoul of a range of issues:
> 1. certificate keys are generally only used for signing TLS handshake
> transcripts, this new usage would create a new usage model for those
> keys that would need to avoid cross-domain signature reuse attacks

Could you please share a pointer or explain a bit more what kind of attacks
are those? Or perhaps you are making a more generic point about expanding
the use of certificate keys and dangers associated with it?

> 2. certificate validation in this context does not benefit from the
> multitude of features provided by TLS, including things like OCSP
> stapling (or online revocation checking, but no one does that).

Direct OCSP can still be used to verify if a provided certificate is still
valid. Once received, the OCSP may be cached by the browser. Also, it needs
to be done once for all resources included in the package. As far as
performance is concerned, there are probably opportunities to improve.

> 3. similar to above, how are certificates acquired?

Perhaps a bit naively, we'd think about the same (similar) certificates
that servers would normally use for TLS. Or similar. Since certificate is
pretty much a key signed by CA, there could be many ways to obtain one, by
the proper owner. Only the publisher (original owner of a certificate for
the given domain) could produce a valid signature on a package, and they
already supposedly secure their TLS.

> 4. what if certificates expire?

There are several FAQs at the end of Explainer trying to address that. But
since it's a browser that opens a package, it woudl rely on regular
mechanisms like OCSP to validate the package. It may not be possible when
web is unreachable - but supposedly the risks of cross-domain attacks is
also lower when there is no connectivity. Once connectivity returns, the
package cart may be re-validated. While it is a bit sketchy at the moment,
it doesn't' look like there are obvious huge issues with this... Unless we
miss something of course :)

> 5. the content is obviously a snapshot in time, which implies that the
> entity constructing the package would need to be responsible for
> ensuring consistency; however, this might interact poorly with caching
> of those resources if there are newer versions in the browser cache.
> Given that these are likely not fresh in the HTTP caching sense, the
> browser will need special overrides for freshness checks on certain
> resources.

Awesome point! There is [very early] thinking about implementing it as a
'cache shadow', which would imply those freshness checks. It might make
sense to also expose this 'level of cache' to things like cache API.

> 6. if these resources overwrite entries, then the cache could be
> polluted by old content, which might be exploited by an attacker

In general, old entries should not overwrite newer ones. However, even if
they don't, there can be a consistency mismatch between those fresher
resources from the real cache vs the older resources in the package. I
suspect the package, if indeed implemented as a 'shadow cache layer', may
need to rely on Cache-Control headers on resources included in the

> There are probably a bunch of other considerations here; my brain is a
> mushy soup from a long IETF week.  The signature (if it can be made to
> work) would obviously help avoid some of the previous complaints that
> the packaging stuff attracted, but as you can see, it comes with a
> bunch of new work, some of that work being non-trivial.

Fully acknowledged...

> (And now I have to board a plane.)
Received on Saturday, 19 November 2016 04:11:12 UTC

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