W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-webrtc@w3.org > November 2013

Re: Why does screen sharing require a browser extension?

From: cowwoc <cowwoc@bbs.darktech.org>
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2013 03:09:30 -0500
Message-ID: <5294573A.40100@bbs.darktech.org>
To: Justin Uberti <juberti@google.com>
CC: Martin Thomson <martin.thomson@gmail.com>, "public-webrtc@w3.org" <public-webrtc@w3.org>
Hi Justin,

On 25/11/2013 6:58 PM, Justin Uberti wrote:
> Others have already made the points I was going to, but I'll summarize:
> - Screensharing is more dangerous than webcam access, because the 
> attacker can record the screen, AND control what is displayed on it.

Agreed but only if you interpret screen-sharing as co-browsing. It is 
possible to limit screen-sharing to read-only screen recording, without 
the ability to control what is being displayed on it, in which case none 
of these security concerns exist.

> - It only takes one frame to capture sensitive information - far less 
> than would be noticeable by a user.

Agreed.

> - Requiring unambiguous opt-in for sharing, and being able to remotely 
> disable bad actors, are therefore the best hope of security.

I think that is a bit of a cop-out. It reminds me of Windows XP asking 
you "Are you sure you want to open this file?" implying that the user 
knows more than the browser whether the file can be trusted. In 99% of 
cases, they do not. The sounds like a "cover your ass" question so we 
can later tell the user "Well... I warned you. You have no one to blame 
but yourself." No wonder no one pays attention to these warnings. I 
think we can do better (more on this below).

> - To opt in, the user will need to install an app or extension, and 
> when actually sharing, select the window/desktop to be shared from a 
> consent box.

We should present a consent box and ask which window/desktop to be 
shared every time the app is opened, not just the first time the app is 
installed (unless the user asks us to remember his preferences).

> - Installing through an app store is an explicit grant of trust by the 
> user to the application (similar to installing a desktop app). 
> Visiting a web page is not.

I disagree. Allow me to explain why I believe this security model (which 
is used by Android) is broken.

I install an app and get asked whether it should be able to access my 
contacts, use the camera and empty my bank account. 99% of the time, I 
have no idea why the application needs these permissions but I proceed 
anyway because I want to try the application. I believe you'd end up 
with a far better permission situation if you presented the consent box 
immediately before the permission was needed. Meaning, if the app asked 
to access my contact list immediately after I asked it to share a 
picture with my friends, I'd understand why. Asking me during 
installation time does not provide me with the necessary context to make 
a decision and results in me forgetting that I ever granted permission 
in the first place because I only got asked once.

You should be asking me every time the app required a permission, not 
just once (unless I ask you to remember the choice) and you should do so 
right before you need a permission, not all up-front.

None of this is specific to an extension versus a web page, but I 
believe the latter is a better fit (no need to install a plugin).

By the way, I fail to see why you couldn't present a consent box the 
first time I visit a web page. Java does this the first time you launch 
an applet off a website. Why couldn't Chrome do the same for embedded 
WebRTC applications? You could present the exact same permissions dialog 
you get on app store. None of this depends on the use of browser extensions.

Gili

>
>
> On Mon, Nov 25, 2013 at 12:23 PM, cowwoc <cowwoc@bbs.darktech.org 
> <mailto:cowwoc@bbs.darktech.org>> wrote:
>
>     On 25/11/2013 3:20 PM, Martin Thomson wrote:
>
>         On 25 November 2013 12:13, cowwoc <cowwoc@bbs.darktech.org
>         <mailto:cowwoc@bbs.darktech.org>> wrote:
>
>             Pick colors which no one is color-blind to.
>             Your friend *saw* the border, he just didn't know what it
>             meant. I am
>             willing to bet that if it pulsed, he'd definitely see it.
>             If you add the alert icon with the tooltip as Java did,
>             there would be no
>             confusion as to the meaning of the border. I've used this
>             feature live and I
>             can tell you it was very easy to understand.
>
>         I'm fairly certain that doesn't work either.  The problem, of
>         which I
>         provided a specific example, is something that I will call "chrome
>         blindness".  Users don't notice this stuff.  Despite 15+ years of
>         training, the lock icon still doesn't work as advertised.
>
>
>     But the border is flashing! :) Anyway, I'd argue an extension is
>     even worse. You install it once and forget what it is actively
>     recording. It might not be malicious but you could still
>     mistakenly share some pretty embarrassing stuff.
>
>
>             How does requiring each app to publish a separate
>             extension on Chrome Store
>             scale any better?
>
>         Justin's example might scale, depending on how app stores are
>         managed.
>
>
>     I don't get it then. What did you mean by "it doesn't scale" with
>     respect to having the AppStore approve/ban SSL certificates
>     associated with apps? After all, the way apps are approved in the
>     first place is by signing them and approving the certificate. So
>     how is this any different? This is just an AppStore where the user
>     does not need to explicitly install an app. All other steps
>     remains identical.
>
>     Gili
>
>
Received on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 08:10:31 UTC

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