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[whatwg] TCPConnection feedback

From: Michael Carter <michael.carter@kaazing.com>
Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2008 18:30:50 -0700
Message-ID: <24f9a1ba0806171830x183f59aao4d29f3eceedcc6f8@mail.gmail.com>
Hello,

We've had a number of discussions in the #whatwg channel thus far about the
TCPConnection specification in section 6, and the consesus is that there is
utility in an asynchronous, bi-directional communication mechanism, but the
current proposal has a number of issues that need to be resolved.

There are a list of requirements for the protocol:

<Hixie> basically my main requirements are that:
HIXIE.1) there be the ability for one process to have a full-duplex
communication channel to the script running in the web page
HIXIE.2) the server-side be implementable in a fully conformant way in just
a few lines of perl without support libraries
HIXIE.3) that it be safe from abuse (e.g. can't connect to smtp servers)
HIXIE.4) that it work from within fascist firewalls


There are some issues with the specification as it stands:
-----------
<othermaciej> my two problems with it are: (1) it uses port/host addressing
instead of URI addressing, which is a poor fit for the Web model
<othermaciej> (2) it's bad to send non-http over the assigned ports for http
and https
<othermaciej> (3) I am worried that connection to arbitrary ports could lead
to security issues, although Hixie tried hard to avoid them
----------

The complete list from multiple discussions, I believe, is:
ISSUE.1) lack of URI addressing
ISSUE.2) sending non-http(s) over http(s) ports
ISSUE.3) inability to traverse forward proxies
ISSUE.4) lack of cross-domain access control
ISSUE.5) DNS rebinding security holes
ISSUE.6) lack of load balancing integration
ISSUE.7) lack of authentication integration
ISSUE.8) virtual hosting with secure communication (no Host header, and even
if there was, there's no way to indicate this header *before* the secure
handshake)

I propose that we
PROPOSAL.1) change the initial handshake of the protocol to be HTTP based to
leverage existing solutions to these problems.
PROPOSAL.2) modify the API to use URIs instead of port/host pairs

I believe that the HTTP/1.1 OPTIONS method, Upgrade header, and "101
Switching Protocols" response is the best avenue to take because these parts
of HTTP were specifically designed to: (1) See if the server can speak the
new protocol (2) switch the protocol mid-stream.

How the changes solve the problems
=================================
ISSUE.1) We added URI addressing
ISSUE.2) We now only send valid HTTP(s) over HTTP(s) ports.
ISSUE.3) We can send a CONNECT to the proxy, thus eliminating this problem.
ISSUE.4) We can use the Access-Control header to solve this problem.
ISSUE.5) The Host header solves this problem
ISSUE.6) Many load balancers use cookies or urls. Using HTTP allows both
cookies and urls, so we can integrate with existing HTTP load balancers.
ISSUE.7) Cookies allow standard authentication mechansisms to be applied to
the TCPConnection
ISSUE.8) We can follow RFC 2817 for TLS upgrading mid stream,


Examples
========

Normal Handshake
----------------
In javascript on a page served from the domain "example.com", the following
call is issued:

tcp  = new TCPConnection("http://example.com/some/url")

C:
OPTIONS /some/url HTTP/1.1\r\n
Host: example.com\r\n
Upgrade: TCPConnection/1.0\r\n
Connection: Upgrade\r\n
\r\n
S:
HTTP/1.1 101 Switching Protocols\r\n
Connection: Upgrade\r\n
Upgrade: TCPConnection/1.0\r\n
\r\n

C, S:

[ Bi-directional communication ]


Secure Handshake
----------------
In javascript on a page served from the domain "example.com", the following
call is issued:

tcp  = new TCPConnection("https://example.com/some/url")

C, S (port 443):
[ SSL handshake ]
C:
OPTIONS /some/url HTTP/1.1\r\n
Host: example.com\r\n
Upgrade: TCPConnection/1.0\r\n
Connection: Upgrade\r\n
\r\n
S:
HTTP/1.1 101 Switching Protocols\r\n
Connection: Upgrade\r\n
Upgrade: TCPConnection/1.0\r\n
\r\n
C, S:
[ Bi-directional communication ]


Cross-domain Access Controlled Handshake
----------------------------------------
In javascript on a page served from the domain "example.com", the following
call is issued:

tcp  = new TCPConnection("http://www.example.com/some/url")

C:
OPTIONS /some/url HTTP/1.1\r\n
Host: www.example.com\r\n
Upgrade: TCPConnection/1.0\r\n
Connection: Upgrade\r\n
\r\n
S:
HTTP/1.1 101 Switching Protocols\r\n
Connection: Upgrade\r\n
Upgrade: TCPConnection/1.0\r\n
Access-Control: allow <example.com>\r\n
\r\n

C, S:
[ Bi-directional communication ]


Handshake Through a Forward Proxy (with Proxy Authentication)
-------------------------------------------------------------
In javascript from a page served in the domain "example.com", and the
browser is behind a forward proxy, the following call is issued:

tcp  = new TCPConnection("http://example.com/some/url")

C:
CONNECT example.com:80 HTTP/1.1\r\n
Proxy-authorization: basic aGVsbG86d29ybGQ=\r\n
\r\n
OPTIONS /some/url HTTP/1.1\r\n
Host: example.com\r\n
Upgrade: TCPConnection/1.0\r\n
Connection: Upgrade\r\n
\r\n
S:
HTTP/1.1 101 Switching Protocols\r\n
Connection: Upgrade\r\n
Upgrade: TCPConnection/1.0\r\n
\r\n
C, S:
[ Bi-directional communication ]


TLS Upgrade
-----------

A potential server-side requirement of TCPConnection is virtual hosting
TCPConnection servers by domain while allowing secure communication. RFC
2817 specifies how to do TLS upgrades over HTTP so as to allow the initial
Host header to be read by the server before the secure channel is created.
We can use the same strategy with the TCPConnection protocol:

C:
OPTIONS /some/url HTTP/1.1\r\n
Host: example.com\r\n
Upgrade: TLS/1.0\r\n
Connection: Upgrade\r\n
\r\n
S:
HTTP/1.1 101 Switching Protocols\r\n
Connection: Upgrade\r\n
Upgrade: TLS/1.0, HTTP/1.1\r\n
\r\n
C:
OPTIONS /some/url HTTP/1.1\r\n
Host: example.com\r\n
Upgrade: TCPConnection/1.0\r\n
Connection: Upgrade\r\n
\r\n
S:
HTTP/1.1 101 Switching Protocols\r\n
Connection: Upgrade\r\n
Upgrade: TCPConnection/1.0\r\n
\r\n
C, S:
[ Secure Handshake ]
C, S:
[ Bi-directional communication ]


Conclusion
==========
This proposal fits within the original requirements.

HIXIE.1) We've provided full-duplex communication in the browser
HIXIE.2) Its a single line of perl code to parse the http headers, and
another to make sure the proper headers exist
HIXIE.3) No existing SMTP server (or any non-TCPConnection server) is going
to send back the appropriate handshake response.
HIXIE.4) TCPConnection will be able to navigate forward proxies and
firewalls due to our use of CONNECT.



-Michael Carter
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