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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

Subtleties of postMessage

2013 Jul 15, 1:00

In IE10 and other new browsers one may create MessageChannel objects that have two MessagePorts each connected (w3c spec calls it entangled) to one another such that postMessage on one port results in the message event firing on the other. You can pass an array of ports as the last parameter to postMessage and they show up in the ports property of the message event arg.

Origin

The postMessage here is like the worker postMessage and unlike the window and iframe postMessage in that it applies no origin checking:

  1. No origin postMessage in workers and MessagePorts: postMessage(messageData, ports)
  2. Origin postMessage in windows and iframes: postMessage(messageData, targetOrigin, ports)

Unfortunately the origin isn't an optional parameter at the end to make the two postMessages have the same signature.

On the event handler side, the event arg always has an origin property. But in the no origin case it is always the empty string.

Source

There is also a source property on the message event arg which if set is an object that has a postMessage property allowing you to post back to your caller. It is set for the origin case, however, in the no origin case this property is null. This is somewhat reasonable because in the case of MessagePort and Workers there are only two endpoints so you always know the source of a message implicitly. Unlike the origin case in which any iframe or window can be calling postMessage on any other iframe or window and the caller is unknown. So not unreasonable but it would be nice if the source property was always set for consistency.

MessageChannel start

When a MessageChannel is created it has two MessagePorts, but until those ports are started they will queue up any messages they receive. Once started they will dispatch all queued messages. Ports don't have to be started to send messages.

A port may be started in two ways, either by explicitly calling the start method on the port, or by setting the onmessage callback property on the port. However, adding an event listener via addEventListener("message", does not start the port. It works this way in IE and Chrome and the spec states this as well.

The justification is that since you can have only one callback via onmessage that once set you must implicitly be ready to receive messages and its fine to start the port. As opposed to the addEventListener in which case the user agent cannot start implicitly because it doesn't know how many event listeners will be added.  I found Hixie stating this justification in geoloc meeting notes.

Links

W3C Spec

Opera introduction

PermalinkCommentsDOM html javascript postMessage technical web-worker worker

Obscuring Location

2011 Jul 1, 10:17"A method for obscuring location information is described. Both static and changing location information can be obscured. A single distance measure is input to the process; this parameter controls the precision of location information that can be extracted by a recipient."PermalinkCommentsgeoloc geolocation technical rfc standard reference

Internet probe can track you down to within 690 metres - tech - 05 April 2011 - New Scientist

2011 Apr 8, 2:07"On average their method gets to within 690 metres of the target and can be as close as 100 metres – good enough to identify the target computer's location to within a few streets.", "When a landmark machine and the target computer have shared a router, the researchers can compare how long a packet takes to reach each machine from the router; converted into an estimate of distance, this time difference narrows the search down further."PermalinkCommentstechnical internet privacy geo geolocation security

IE9 Document Mode in WebOC

2011 Apr 4, 10:00

Working on GeolocMock it took me a bit to realize why my HTML could use the W3C Geolocation API in IE9 but not in my WebBrowser control in my .NET application. Eventually I realized that I was getting the wrong IE doc mode. Reading this old More IE8 Extensibility Improvements IE blog post from the IE blog I found the issue is that for app compat the WebOC picks older doc modes but an app hosting the WebOC can set a regkey to get different doc modes. The IE9 mode isn't listed in that article but I took a guess based on the values there and the decimal value 9999 gets my app IE9 mode. The following is the code I run in my application to set its regkey so that my app can get the IE9 doc mode and use the geolocation API.



        static private void UseIE9DocMode()
{
RegistryKey key = null;
try
{
key = Registry.CurrentUser.OpenSubKey("Software\\Microsoft\\Internet Explorer\\Main\\FeatureControl\\FEATURE_BROWSER_EMULATION", true);
}
catch (Exception)
{
key = Registry.CurrentUser.CreateSubKey("Software\\Microsoft\\Internet Explorer\\Main\\FeatureControl\\FEATURE_BROWSER_EMULATION");
}
key.SetValue(System.Diagnostics.Process.GetCurrentProcess().MainModule.ModuleName, 9999, RegistryValueKind.DWord);
key.Close();
}
PermalinkCommentsweboc fck ie document mode technical ie9

GeolocMock Tool - Tell IE9 Where You Are

2011 Apr 3, 12:00

I've made GeolocMock. If your PC has no geolocation devices, IE9 uses a webservice to determine your location. GeolocMock uses FiddlerCore to intercept the response from the webservice and allows the user to replace the location in the response with another. This was a fun weekend project in order to play with FiddlerCore, the W3C Geoloc APIs in IE9, hosting the IE9 WebOC in a .NET app, and the Bing Maps APIs.

PermalinkCommentsfiddler technical geoloc ie9 fiddlercore

Damn, Tourists! « Burrito Justice

2010 Jun 7, 2:40Maps of where tourists vs locals take photos in major cities like New York, San Francisco, etc. based on geotagged photos on Flickr.
PermalinkCommentsgeolocation geo geography map flickr photo tourist technical visualization

Bing - New Bing Maps Application: Streetside Photos - Bing Maps Blog - Bing Community

2010 Feb 19, 3:20Bing Maps blog post on their integration of Flickr photos onto their street side view. Very coolPermalinkCommentsflickr photo creativecommons geolocation bing microsoft photography map blog geo

nru, another step towards magical augmented reality phones - Boing Boing Gadgets

2009 Jan 20, 2:20"Because the G1 has a compass inside, nru presents its data as a sonar-like spinning map when held parallel to the ground, but presents a snazzy augmented reality overlay when tipped up towards the horizon. It's easier to grok when you can see it in motion; there's a video up above."PermalinkCommentsg1 phone cellphone compass geolocation video android

Mozilla Labs launches geolocation extension

2008 Oct 13, 2:21Neat geolocation API for web apps: "Mozilla Labs has announced the availability of Geode, an experimental Firefox extension that implements the W3C Geolocation Specification. Geode provides an early preview of the same location-aware functionality that will be included in both Fennec and Firefox 3.1."PermalinkCommentsgeolocation geo w3c mozilla javascript web
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