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Edge browser and JavaScript UWP app security model comparison

2018 Nov 29, 2:21

There are two main differences in terms of security between a JavaScript UWP app and the Edge browser:

Process Model

A JavaScript UWP app has one process (technically not true with background tasks and other edge cases but ignoring that for the moment) that runs in the corresponding appcontainer defined by the app's appx manifest. This one process is where edgehtml is loaded and is rendering HTML, talking to the network, and executing script. Specifically, the UWP main UI thread is the one where your script is running and calling into WinRT.

In the Edge browser there is a browser process running in the same appcontainer defined by its appx manifest, but there are also tab processes. These tab processes are running in restricted app containers that have fewer appx capabilities. The browser process has XAML loaded and coordinates between tabs and handles some (non-WinRT) brokering from the tab processes. The tab processes load edgehtml and that is where they render HTML, talk to the network and execute script.

There is no way to configure the JavaScript UWP app's process model but using WebViews you can approximate it. You can create out of process WebViews and to some extent configure their capabilities, although not to the same extent as the browser. The WebView processes in this case are similar to the browser's tab processes. See the MSWebViewProcess object for configuring out of process WebView creation. I also implemented out of proc WebView tabs in my JSBrowser fork.

ApplicationContentUriRules

The ApplicationContentUriRules (ACUR) section of the appx manifest lets an application define what URIs are considered app code. See a previous post for the list of ACUR effects.

Notably app code is able to access WinRT APIs. Because of this, DOM security restrictions are loosended to match what is possible with WinRT.

Privileged DOM APIs like geolocation, camera, mic etc require a user prompt in the browser before use. App code does not show the same browser prompt. There still may be an OS prompt – the same prompt that applies to any UWP app, but that’s usually per app not per origin.

App code also gets to use XMLHttpRequest or fetch to access cross origin content. Because UWP apps have separate state, cross origin here might not mean much to an attacker unless your app also has the user login to Facebook or some other interesting cross origin target.

PermalinkCommentsedge javascript security uwp web-security wwa

Win10 PWA Terminology

2018 May 31, 8:26

Folks familiar with JavaScript UWP apps in Win10 have often been confused by what PWAs in Win10 actually are. TLDR: PWAs in Win10 are simply JavaScript UWP apps. The main difference between these JS UWP Apps and our non-PWA JS UWP apps are our target end developer audience, and how we get Win10 PWAs into the Microsoft Store. See this Win10 blog post on PWAs on Win10 for related info.

Web App

On the web a subset of web sites are web apps. These are web sites that have app like behavior - that is a user might call it an app like Outlook, Maps or Gmail. And they may also have a W3C app manifest.

A subset of web apps are progressive web apps. Progressive web apps are web apps that have a W3C app manifest and a service worker. Various OSes are beginning to support PWAs as first class apps on their platform. This is true for Win10 as well in which PWAs are run as a WWA.

Windows Web App

In Win10 a WWA (Windows Web App) is an unofficial term for a JavaScript UWP app. These are UWP apps so they have an AppxManifest.xml, they are packaged in an Appx package, they run in an App Container, they use WinRT APIs, and are installed via the Microsoft Store. Specific to WWAs though, is that the AppxManifest.xml specifies a StartPage attribute identifying some HTML content to be used as the app. When the app is activated the OS will create a WWAHost.exe process that hosts the HTML content using the EdgeHtml rendering engine.

Packaged vs Hosted Web App

Within that we have a notion of a packaged web app and an HWA (hosted web app). There's no real technical distinction for the end developer between these two. The only real difference is whether the StartPage identifies remote HTML content on the web (HWA), or packaged HTML content from the app's appx package (packaged web app). An end developer may create an app that is a mix of these as well, with HTML content in the package and HTML content from the web. These terms are more like ends on a continuum and identifying two different developer scenarios since the underlying technical aspect is pretty much identical.

Win10 PWA

Win10 PWAs are simply HWAs that specify a StartPage of a URI for a PWA on the web. These are still JavaScript UWP apps with all the same behavior and abilities as other UWP apps. We have two ways of getting PWAs into the Microsoft Store as Win10 PWAs. The first is PWA Builder which is a tool that helps PWA end developers create and submit to the Microsoft Store a Win10 PWA appx package. The second is a crawler that runs over the web looking for PWAs which we convert and submit to the Store using an automated PWA Builder-like tool to create a Win10 PWA from PWAs on the web (see Welcoming PWAs to Win10 for more info). In both cases the conversion involves examining the PWAs W3C app manifest and producing a corresponding AppxManifest.xml. Not all features supported by AppxManifest.xml are also available in the W3c app manifest. But the result of PWA Builder can be a working starting point for end developers who can then update the AppxManifest.xml as they like to support features like share targets or others not available in W3C app manifests.

PermalinkCommentsJS pwa uwp web

Tiny browser features: JSBrowser crash resistance

2018 May 13, 4:59

JSBrowser is a basic browser built as a Win10 JavaScript UWP app around the WebView HTML element. Its fun and relatively simple to implement tiny browser features in JavaScript and in this post I'm implementing crash resistance.

The normal DOM mechanisms for creating an HTML WebView create an in-process WebView, in which the WebView runs on a unique UI thread. But we can use the MSWebView constructor instead to create an out-of-process WebView in which the WebView runs in its own distinct WebView process. Unlike an in-process WebView, Web content running in an out-of-process WebView can only crash the WebView process and not the app process.

        this.replaceWebView = () => {
let webview = document.querySelector("#WebView");
// Cannot access webview.src - anything that would need to communicate with the webview process may fail
let oldSrc = browser.currentUrl;
const webviewParent = webview.parentElement;
webviewParent.removeChild(webview);
webview = new MSWebView();
Object.assign(this, {
"webview": webview
});
webview.setAttribute("id", "WebView");

// During startup our currentUrl field is blank. If the WebView has crashed
// and we were on a URI then we may obtain it from this property.
if (browser.currentUrl && browser.currentUrl != "") {
this.trigger("newWebview");
this.navigateTo(browser.currentUrl);
}
webviewParent.appendChild(webview);

I run replaceWebView during startup to replace the in-process WebView created via HTML markup with an out-of-process WebView. I could be doing more to dynamically copy styles, attributes, etc but I know what I need to set on the WebView and just do that.

When a WebView process crashes the corresponding WebView object is no longer useful and a new WebView element must be created. In fact if the old WebView object is used it may throw and will no longer have valid state. Accordingly when the WebView crashes I run replaceWebView again. Additionally, I need to store the last URI we've navigated to (browser.currentUrl in the above) since the crashed WebView object won't know what URI it is on after it crashes.

            webview.addEventListener("MSWebViewProcessExited", () => { 
if (browser.currentUrl === browser.lastCrashUrl) { ++browser.lastCrashUrlCrashCount;
}
else {
browser.lastCrashUrl = browser.currentUrl;
browser.lastCrashUrlCrashCount = 1;
}
// If we crash again and again on the same URI, maybe stop trying to load that URI.
if (browser.lastCrashUrlCrashCount >= 3) {
browser.lastCrashUrl = "";
browser.lastCrashUrlCrashCount = 0;
browser.currentUrl = browser.startPage;
}
this.replaceWebView();
});

I also keep track of the last URI that we recovered and how many times we've recovered that same URI. If the same URI crashes more than 3 times in a row then I assume that it will keep happening and I navigate to the start URI instead.

PermalinkCommentsbrowser javascript jsbrowser uwp webview win10

Tiny browser features: JSBrowser zoom

2018 May 10, 3:49

JSBrowser is a basic browser built as a Win10 JavaScript UWP app around the WebView HTML element. Its fun and relatively simple to implement tiny browser features in JavaScript and in this post I'm implementing zoom.

My plan to implement zoom is to add a zoom slider to the settings div that controls the scale of the WebView element via CSS transform. My resulting zoom change is in git and you can try the whole thing out in my JSBrowser fork.

Slider

I can implement the zoom settings slider as a range type input HTML element. This conveniently provides me a min, max, and step property and suits exactly my purposes. I chose some values that I thought would be reasonable so the browser can scale between half to 3x by increments of one quarter. This is a tiny browser feature after all so there's no custom zoom entry.

<a><label for="webviewZoom">Zoom</label><input type="range" min="50" max="300" step="25" value="100" id="webviewZoom" /></a>

To let the user know this slider is for controlling zoom, I make a label HTML element that says Zoom. The label HTML element has a for attribute which takes the id of another HTML element. This lets the browser know what the label is labelling and lets the browser do things like when the label is clicked to put focus on the slider.

Scale

There are no explicit scale APIs for WebView so to change the size of the content in the WebView we use CSS.

        this.applyWebviewZoom = state => {
const minValue = this.webviewZoom.getAttribute("min");
const maxValue = this.webviewZoom.getAttribute("max");
const scaleValue = Math.max(Math.min(parseInt(this.webviewZoom.value, 10), maxValue), minValue) / 100;

// Use setAttribute so they all change together to avoid weird visual glitches
this.webview.setAttribute("style", [
["width", (100 / scaleValue) + "%"],
["height", "calc(" + (-40 / scaleValue) + "px + " + (100 / scaleValue) + "%)"],
["transform", "scale(" + scaleValue + ")"]
].map(pair => pair[0] + ": " + pair[1]).join("; "));
};

Because the user changes the scale at runtime I accordingly replace the static CSS for the WebView element with the script above to programmatically modify the style of the WebView. I change the style with one setAttribute call to do my best to avoid the browser performing unnecessary work or displaying the WebView in an intermediate and incomplete state. Applying the scale to the element is as simple as adding 'transform: scale(X)' but then there are two interesting problems.

The first is that the size of the WebView is also scaled not just the content within it. To keep the WebView the same effective size so that it still fits properly into our browser UI, we must compensate for the scale in the WebView width and height. Accordingly, you can see that we scale up by scaleValue and then in width and height we divide by the scaleValue.

transform-origin: 0% 0%;

The other issue is that by default the scale transform's origin is the center of the WebView element. This means when scaled up all sides of the WebView would expand out. But when modifying the width and height those apply relative to the upper left of the element so our inverse scale application to the width and height above aren't quite enough. We also have to change the origin of the scale transform to match the origin of the changes to the width and height.

PermalinkCommentsbrowser css-transform javascript JS jsbrowser uwp webview win10

jonahray: MIKAL CRONIN - “Say”A video I wrote/directed for...

2015 May 27, 3:07


jonahray:

MIKAL CRONIN - “Say”

A video I wrote/directed for FUNNY OR DIE.

It features Kurt Braunohler, Nick Thune, Nelson Franklin, Allan McLeod and Ryan Perez. 

ALL HAIL THE CHEVY

PermalinkComments

jonahray: MIKAL CRONIN - “Say”A video I wrote/directed for...

2015 May 27, 3:07


jonahray:

MIKAL CRONIN - “Say”

A video I wrote/directed for FUNNY OR DIE.

It features Kurt Braunohler, Nick Thune, Nelson Franklin, Allan McLeod and Ryan Perez. 

ALL HAIL THE CHEVY

PermalinkComments

Retweet of ivanristic

2015 Feb 26, 2:45
Blink browser engine: "Intent to deprecate: Insecure usage of powerful features" https://groups.google.com/a/chromium.org/forum/#!msg/blink-dev/2LXKVWYkOus/gT-ZamfwAKsJ … < Pushing toward more HTTPS
PermalinkComments

The Dollar-And-Cents Case Against Hollywood’s Exclusion of...

2014 Apr 8, 7:01


The Dollar-And-Cents Case Against Hollywood’s Exclusion of Women - Applying the Bechdel Test to movies over the past 40 years.

PermalinkComments

This might be the strangest release of classic Chicago label...

2013 May 17, 5:43


This might be the strangest release of classic Chicago label Trax yet! The clue’s in the title - it’s Daft Punk brassified. We get four classics by the world’s most famous Gallic robot duo: “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” gets turned into a 1940s Dick Tracy-style riff-off with every form of trumpet imaginable, “Around The World” mixes wind instruments with that famous vocal mantra, “Da Funk” features plenty of sassy brass and “One More Time” wraps things up on a swingin’, jazzy high.

PermalinkCommentsSoundCloud Iamjasonalexander Brass Music music cover daft-punk

Web Security Contest - Stripe CTF

2012 Aug 27, 4:18

Stripe is running a web security capture the flag - a series of increasingly difficult web security exploit challenges. I've finished it and had a lot of fun. Working on a web browser I knew the theory of these various web based attacks, but this was my first chance to put theory into practice with:

  • No adverse consequences
  • Knowledge that there is a fun security exploit to find
  • Access to the server side source code

Here's a blog post on the CTF behind the scenes setup which has many impressive features including phantom users that can be XSS/CSRF'ed.

I'll have another post on my difficulties and answers for the CTF levels after the contest is over on Wed, but if you're looking for hints, try out the CTF chatroom or the level specific CTF chatroom.

PermalinkCommentscontest security technical

Changing Windows Live IDs

2012 Jun 6, 2:54

Use of my old Hotmail account has really snuck up on me as I end up caring more and more about all of the services with which it is associated. The last straw is Windows 8 login, but previous straws include Xbox, Zune, SkyDrive, and my Windows 7 Phone. I like the features and sync'ing associated with the Windows Live ID, but I don't like my old, spam filled, hotmail email address on the Live ID account.

A coworker told me about creating a Live ID from a custom domain, which sounded like just the ticket for me. Following the instructions above I was able to create a new deletethis.net Live ID but the next step of actually using this new Live ID was much more difficult. My first hope was there would be some way to link my new and old Live IDs so as to make them interchangeable. As it turns out there is a way to link Live IDs but all that does is make it easy to switch between accounts on Live Mail, SkyDrive and some other webpages.

Instead one must change over each service or start over depending on the service:

Xbox
In the Xbox 360 system menu you can change the Live ID associated with your gamertag. This worked fine for me and I got an email telling me about the transfer of my Microsoft Points.
Zune
There's no way to do this for the Zune specifically, however changing over your Xbox account also transfers over all your Zune purchased content. I don't have a Zune Pass so I can't confirm that, but all of my previously purchased television shows transferred over successfully.
Windows 7 Phone
To change the main Live ID associated with your phone, reset your phone to factory default and start over. All purchased applications are lost. Had I purchased any applications I would have been pissed, but instead I was just irritated that I had to reset my phone.
Mail
I don't use my Hotmail account for anything and it only sits and collects spam. Accordingly I didn't attempt switching this over.
SkyDrive
I didn't have much in my SkyDrive account. I downloaded all files as a zip and then manually uploaded them to the new account.
PermalinkCommentshotmail domain win8 skydrive technical windows live-id

Understanding Enhanced Protected Mode

2012 Mar 23, 1:18

Eric Lawrence describes the new security features of IE10.

PermalinkCommentstechnical ie10 security ie web-browser eric-lawrence

HTML5 Table Flipper Experiment

2012 Mar 2, 1:02

The goal of this experiment was to combine the flipping tables emoticons with the Threw It On The Ground video using shiny new HTML5-ish features and the end result is the table flipper flipping the Threw It On the Ground video.

The table flipper emoticon is CSS before content that changes on hover. Additionally on hover a CSS transform is applied to flip the video upside down several times and move it to the right and there's a CSS transition to animate the flipping. The only issue I ran into is that (at least on Windows) Flash doesn't like to have CSS transform rotations applied to it. So to get the most out of the flip experiment you must opt-in to HTML5 video on YouTube. And of course you must use a browser that supports the various things I just mentioned, like the latest Chrome (or not yet released IE10).

PermalinkCommentscss-transform flipping-tables css-transition html5-video technical threw-it-on-the-ground

Glitch Helperator

2012 Feb 29, 3:05

I've been working on the Glitch Helperator. It is a collection of tools and things I've put together for Glitch. It has a few features that I haven't seen elsewhere including:

Favorite Streets
A notebook in which you can save information about interesting streets and later use it to find your way back to them.
Birthday
Find out how old your Glitch is and the date of your next birthday in Glitch time or Earth time.
API Update History
A history of changes to the streets, skills and achievements of Glitch noting when new ones are added and when existing ones are changed.
It also has an interactive skill tree, find nearest feature tool, and achievement display. If you play Glitch, check it out.
PermalinkCommentsglitch tool glitch-helperator game

Client Side Cross Domain Data YQL Hack

2012 Feb 27, 2:28

One of the more limiting issues of writing client side script in the browser is the same origin limitations of XMLHttpRequest. The latest version of all browsers support a subset of CORS to allow servers to opt-in particular resources for cross-domain access. Since IE8 there's XDomainRequest and in all other browsers (including IE10) there's XHR L2's cross-origin request features. But the vast majority of resources out on the web do not opt-in using CORS headers and so client side only web apps like a podcast player or a feed reader aren't doable.

One hack-y way around this I've found is to use YQL as a CORS proxy. YQL applies the CORS header to all its responses and among its features it allows a caller to request an arbitrary XML, HTML, or JSON resource. So my network helper script first attempts to access a URI directly using XDomainRequest if that exists and XMLHttpRequest otherwise. If that fails it then tries to use XDR or XHR to access the URI via YQL. I wrap my URIs in the following manner, where type is either "html", "xml", or "json":

        yqlRequest = function(uri, method, type, onComplete, onError) {
var yqlUri = "http://query.yahooapis.com/v1/public/yql?q=" +
encodeURIComponent("SELECT * FROM " + type + ' where url="' + encodeURIComponent(uri) + '"');

if (type == "html") {
yqlUri += encodeURIComponent(" and xpath='/*'");
}
else if (type == "json") {
yqlUri += "&callback=&format=json";
}
...

This also means I can get JSON data itself without having to go through JSONP.
PermalinkCommentsxhr javascript yql client-side technical yahoo xdr cors

Why I Like Glitch

2012 Feb 17, 4:00

Sarah and I have been enjoying Glitch for a while now. Reviews are usually positive although occasionally biting (but mostly accurate).

I enjoy Glitch as a game of exploration: exploring the game's lands with hidden and secret rooms, and exploring the games skills and game mechanics. The issue with my enjoyment coming from exploration is that after I've explored all streets and learned all skills I've got nothing left to do. But I've found that even after that I can have fun writing client side JavaScript against Glitch's web APIs making tools (I work on the Glitch Helperator) for use in Glitch. And on a semi-regular basis they add new features reviving my interest in the game itself.

PermalinkCommentsvideo-game glitch glitch-helperator me project game

Sprint loaded spyware on its Android phones

2011 Nov 30, 4:22

“TechCrunch and others are reporting that a program called “Carrier IQ” that comes pre-installed on Sprint phones has some pretty amazing spyware capabilities, right down to keylogging everything you do on the phone.”

PermalinkCommentstechnical cell-phone privacy security

Replacing Google Reader Shared Feeds with Tumblr

2011 Nov 28, 7:36

Last time I wrote about how I switched from Delicious to Google Reader's shared links feature only to find out that week that Google was removing the Google Reader shared links feature in favor of Google Plus social features (I'll save my Google Plus rant for another day).

Forced to find something new again, I'm now very pleased with Tumblr. Google Reader has Tumblr in its preset list of Send To sites which makes it relatively easy to add articles. And Tumblr's UX for adding things lets me easily pick a photo or video to display from the article - something which I had put together with a less convenient UX on my bespoke blogging system. For adding things outside of Google Reader I made a Tumblr accelerator to hookup to the Tumblr Add UX.

Of course they have an RSS feed which I hooked up to my blog. The only issue I had there is that when you add a link (and not a video or photo) to Tumblr, the RSS feed entry title for that link is repeated in the entry description as a link followed by a colon and then the actual description entered into Tumblr. I want my title separate so I can apply my own markup so I did a bit of parsing of the description to remove the repeated title from the description.

PermalinkCommentsblog tumblr me technical google-reader

Features of image type input tags in HTML

2011 Nov 21, 11:00

A bug came up the other day involving markup containing <input type="image" src="http://example.com/.... I knew that "image" was a valid input type but it wasn't until that moment that I realized I didn't know what it did. Looking it up I found that it displays the specified image and when the user clicks on the image, the form is submitted with an additional two name value pairs: the x and y positions of the point at which the user clicked the image.

Take for example the following HTML:

<form action="http://example.com/">
<input type="image" name="foo" src="http://deletethis.net/dave/images/davebefore.jpg">
</form>
If the user clicks on the image, the browser will submit the form with a URI like the following:http://example.com/?foo.x=145&foo.y=124.

This seemed like an incredibly specific feature to be built directly into the language when this could instead be done with javascript. I looked a bit further and saw that its been in HTML since at least HTML2, which of course makes much more sense. Javascript barely existed at that point and sending off the user's click location in a form may have been the only way to do something interesting with that action.

PermalinkCommentsuri technical form history html

Replacing Delicious with Google Reader

2011 Nov 17, 11:00

I had previously replaced my use of Delicious with Google Reader. Delicious had a number of issues during their switch over from Yahoo to the new owners and I was eventually fed up enough to remove it from daily use. I used Delicious to do the following things:

  • Create a list of things to read later
  • Save things to read again in the future
  • Search through things I read and enjoyed (esp via tags)
  • Annotate and share things on my blog
I realized that since I did most of my web browsing in Google Reader now anyway I may as well make use of its features. I star things to note I want to read it later or save to read again later. I can annotate with notes in Google Reader and I can share items to my web site by way of the shared items feed. Additionally for when I'm not in Google Reader there's a bookmarklet to add an arbitrary web site as a shared item in Google Reader.

Of course I wrote this and switched over about 1 week before Google removed the sharing feature from Google Reader. I'm irritated but in practice it forced me to find a different option which has worked out mostly better. New blog post coming soon about that...

PermalinkCommentsblog delicious me technical google-reader google feed
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