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[whatwg] Proposal for secure key-value data stores

From: Nicholas Zakas <nzakas@yahoo-inc.com>
Date: Wed, 7 Apr 2010 14:14:58 -0700
Message-ID: <4E45EC6AD219FD47AD1BC06E4EE3845D04C5BE91@SNV-EXVS09.ds.corp.yahoo.com>
I've actually already seen a very common repeated pattern as it comes to client-side data storage:

 

1. "Hey let's try using localStorage to improve our user experience."

2. "Sounds great, but the data can't be stored in plain text if its user data."

3. "That's okay, we'll just use the XYZ JavaScript encryption library."

4. "And then use it on every read and every write?"

5. "Ugh, you're right, nevermind."

 

I've had, or participated in, this conversation multiple times. I also know, from speaking with others about this proposal, that this conversation isn't uncommon.

 

Again I'll say I'm all for adding crypto into JavaScript. I think in addition to that, there should be affordances for what will likely be common usage patterns. To me, any and all mechanisms for client-side storage should have some basic crypto built-in, so why not start here?

 

In regards to data expiration, part of ensuring the security of data is knowing how long it will be stored on disk. If I let someone borrow my computer to check their email, and the email client happens to save some data onto the client, then that person's data will now be on my disk for who knows how long. That represents a data security issue. By allowing an expiration date to be tied to the data, you can have reasonable assurance that the data isn't just going to be sitting around waiting for someone to try and use it. 

 

-Nicholas

 

______________________________________________

Commander Lock: "Damnit Morpheus, not everyone believes what you believe!"

Morpheus: "My beliefs do not require them to."

________________________________

From: whatwg-bounces@lists.whatwg.org [mailto:whatwg-bounces@lists.whatwg.org] On Behalf Of Jeremy Orlow
Sent: Tuesday, April 06, 2010 6:55 AM
To: Nicholas Zakas
Cc: whatwg at lists.whatwg.org; Dirk Pranke
Subject: Re: [whatwg] Proposal for secure key-value data stores

 

Sorry for misunderstanding your original suggestion.

On Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 1:13 AM, Nicholas Zakas <nzakas at yahoo-inc.com> wrote:

I certainly can't argue against a focus on JS crypto. :) What I'd like to do is eliminate what I believe will be a repeated pattern for developers in the future. It would be really nice if, in addition to having access to crypto functions, there was an area where I could stick data that would get encrypted automatically (and of course, where I could be sure the data would be eliminated after a set amount of time).

 

It seems to me that Dirk is right that crypto in the browser is a more general problem and that a general crypto API would be much more valuable than creating new APIs with similar/duplicate functionality + crypto.  Optimizing for "repeated patterns" probably should wait until we see what patterns are actually common.  :-)

 

	My proposal is less about encryption and more about providing better control over how data is stored and for how long.

 

Can you provide some concrete use cases for expiration of content?  They'd probably have to be pretty dramatic to warrant creating yet another storage mechanism.

 

Maybe this can somehow be integrated into IndexedDB?  There's very little chance of it being a v1 feature, but maybe we could make sure it's possible to add in future versions.

 

	
	-Nicholas
	
	______________________________________________
	Commander Lock: "Damnit Morpheus, not everyone believes what you believe!"
	Morpheus: "My beliefs do not require them to."
	
	-----Original Message-----

	From: whatwg-bounces at lists.whatwg.org [mailto:whatwg-bounces at lists.whatwg.org] On Behalf Of Dirk Pranke
	Sent: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 3:09 PM
	To: Nicholas Zakas
	Cc: whatwg at lists.whatwg.org; Jeremy Orlow
	Subject: Re: [whatwg] Proposal for secure key-value data stores

	On Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 2:06 PM, Nicholas Zakas <nzakas at yahoo-inc.com> wrote:
	> Yes, that's precisely what I'm talking about. It seems to me that this will end up being a pretty common pattern (encrypting/decrypting data stored locally).
	>
	> The idea behind letting the key to be defined by the developer is to allow any usage that developers deem appropriate for the situation. For example, one might want to only use a server-generated key to access the data, in which case this data won't be available offline but will be used to supplement the online behavior. Another might determine the key based on some information in a cookie, which is less secure but does allow offline access while also ensuring that if the cookie changes or is deleted, the data remains secure.
	>
	> The idea behind the expiration date is to allow developers to be sure the data won't stay around on disk indefinitely. Think about the Internet caf? use case where people are repeatedly logging in and out - we don't want everyone's data living on that computer for however many years it's in use.
	>
	> One way or another, I think JavaScript crypto is going to be important in the next few years.
	
	Perhaps we should instead focus on a set of JS Crypto APIs, since that
	is largely orthogonal to the storage APIs?
	
	-- Dirk

 

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