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Edge browser & 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

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
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