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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.


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;
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 != "") {

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;

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

MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSourceAsync - JavaScript UWP app printing

2017 Oct 11, 5:49

The documentation for printing in JavaScript UWP apps is out of date as it all references MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSource but that method has been replaced by MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSourceAsync since WinPhone 8.1.


Previous to WinPhone 8.1 the WebView's HTML content ran on the UI thread of the app. This is troublesome for rendering arbitrary web content since in the extreme case the JavaScript of some arbitrary web page might just sit in a loop and never return control to your app's UI. With WinPhone 8.1 we added off thread WebView in which the WebView runs HTML content on a separate UI thread.

Off thread WebView required changing our MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSource API which could no longer synchronously produce an HtmlPrintDocumentSource. With WebViews running on their own threads it may take some time for them to generate their print content for the HtmlPrintDocumentSource and we don't want to hang the app's UI thread in the interim. So the MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSource API was replaced with MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSourceAsync which returns a promise the resolved value of which is the eventual HtmlPrintDocumentSource.


However, the usage of the API is otherwise unchanged. So in sample code you see referencing MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSource the sample code is still reasonable but you need to call MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSourceAsync instead and wait for the promise to complete. For example the PrintManager docs has an example implementing a PrintTaskRequested event handler in a JavaScript UWP app.

    function onPrintTaskRequested(printEvent) {    
var printTask = printEvent.request.createPrintTask("Print Sample", function (args) {

Instead we need to obtain a deferral in the event handler so we can asynchronously wait for getHtmlPrintDocumentSourceAsync to complete:

    function onPrintTaskRequested(printEvent) {    
var printTask = printEvent.request.createPrintTask("Print Sample", function (args) {
const deferral = args.getDeferral();
MSApp.getHtmlPrintDocumentSourceAsync(document).then(htmlPrintDocumentSource => {
}, error => {
console.error("Error: " + error.message + " " + error.stack);
PermalinkCommentsjavascript MSApp printing programming uwp webview win10 windows

Win10 UWP WebView AddWebAllowedObject details

2017 Sep 4, 3:09

The x-ms-webview HTML element has the void addWebAllowedObject(string name, any value) method and the webview XAML element has the void AddWebAllowedObject(String name, Object value) method. The object parameter is projected into the webview’s top-level HTML document’s script engine as a new property on the global object with property name set to the name parameter. It is not injected into the current document but rather it is projected during initialization of the next top-level HTML document to which the webview navigates.


If AddWebAllowedObject is called during a NavigationStarting event handler the object will be injected into the document resulting from the navigation corresponding to that event.

If AddWebAllowedObject is called outside of the NavigationStarting event handler it will apply to the navigation corresponding to the next explicit navigate method called on the webview or the navigation corresponding to the next NavigationStarting event handler that fires, whichever comes first.

To avoid this potential race, you should use AddWebAllowedObject in one of two ways: 1. During a NavigationStarting event handler, 2. Before calling a Navigate method and without returning to the main loop.

If called both before calling a navigate method and in the NavigationStarting event handler then the result is the aggregate of all those calls.

If called multiple times for the same document with the same name the last call wins and the previous are silently ignored.

If AddWebAllowedObject is called for a navigation and that navigation fails or redirects to a different URI, the AddWebAllowedObject call is silently ignored.

After successfully adding an object to a document, the object will no longer be projected once a navigation to a new document occurs.

WinRT access

If AddWebAllowedObject is called for a document with All WinRT access then projection will succeed and the object will be added.

If AddWebAllowedObject is called for a document which has a URI which has no declared WinRT access via ApplicationContentUriRules then Allow for web only WinRT access is given to that document.

If the document has Allow for web only WinRT access then projection will succeed only if the object’s runtimeclass has the Windows.Foundation.Metadata.AllowForWeb metadata attribute.

Object requirements

The object must implement the IAgileObject interface. Because the XAML and HTML webview elements run on ASTA view threads and the webview’s content’s JavaScript thread runs on another ASTA thread a developer should not create their non-agile runtimeclass on the view thread. To encourage end developers to do this correctly we require the object implements IAgileObject.

Property name

The name parameter must be a valid JavaScript property name, otherwise the call will fail silently. If the name is already a property name on the global object, that property is overwritten if the property is configurable. Non-configurable properties on the global object are not overwritten and the AddWebAllowedObject call fails silently. On success, the projected property is writable, configurable, and enumerable.


Some errors as described above fail silently. Other issues, such as lack of IAgileObject or lack of the AllowForWeb attribute result in an error in the JavaScript developer console.


Application Content URI Rule effects

2017 Jun 30, 3:01

Previously I described Application Content URI Rules (ACUR) parsing and ACUR ordering. This post describes what you get from putting a URI in ACUR.

URIs in the ACUR gain the following which is otherwise unavailable:

  • Geoloc API usage
  • Audio and video capture API usage
  • Pointer lock API usage
  • Web notifications API usage
  • IndexedDB API usage
  • Clipboard API usage
  • window.external.notify access from within webview
  • window.close the primary window
  • Top level navigation in the primary window
  • Cross origin XHR and fetch to ms-appx(-web) scheme URIs
  • Cross origin dirtied canvas read access if dirtied by ms-appx(-web) scheme URIs
  • Cross origin text track for video element for tracks from ms-appx(-web) scheme URIs

URIs in the ACUR that also have full WinRT access additionally gain the following:

  • Cross origin XHR and fetch
  • Cross origin dirtied canvas read access
  • Cross origin text track for video element
  • Local audio and video WinRT plugins work with media elements
PermalinkCommentsapplication-content-uri-rules coding javascript programming windows-store

JavaScript Microsoft Store app StartPage

2017 Jun 22, 8:58

JavaScript Microsoft Store apps have some details related to activation that are specific to JavaScript Store apps and that are poorly documented which I’ll describe here.

StartPage syntax

The StartPage attributes in the AppxManifest.xml (Package/Applications/Application/@StartPage, Package/Applications/Extensions/Extension/@StartPage) define the HTML page entry point for that kind of activation. That is, Application/@StartPage defines the entry point for tile activation, Extension[@Category="windows.protocol"]/@StartPage defines the entry point for URI handling activation, etc. There are two kinds of supported values in StartPage attributes: relative Windows file paths and absolute URIs. If the attribute doesn’t parse as an absolute URI then it is instead interpreted as relative Windows file path.

This implies a few things that I’ll declare explicitly here. Windows file paths, unlike URIs, don’t have a query or fragment, so if you are using a relative Windows file path for your StartPage attribute you cannot include anything like ‘?param=value’ at the end. Absolute URIs use percent-encoding for reserved characters like ‘%’ and ‘#’. If you have a ‘#’ in your HTML filename then you need to percent-encode that ‘#’ for a URI and not for a relative Windows file path.

If you specify a relative Windows file path, it is turned into an ms-appx URI by changing all backslashes to forward slashes, percent-encoding reserved characters, and combining the result with a base URI of ms-appx:///. Accordingly the relative Windows file paths are relative to the root of your package. If you are using a relative Windows file path as your StartPage and need to switch to using a URI so you can include a query or fragment, you can follow the same steps above.

StartPage validity

The validity of the StartPage is not determined before activation. If the StartPage is a relative Windows file path for a file that doesn’t exist, or an absolute URI that is not in the Application Content URI Rules, or something that doesn’t parse as a Windows file path or URI, or otherwise an absolute URI that fails to resolve (404, bad hostname, etc etc) then the JavaScript app will navigate to the app’s navigation error page (perhaps more on that in a future blog post). Just to call it out explicitly because I have personally accidentally done this: StartPage URIs are not automatically included in the Application Content URI Rules and if you forget to include your StartPage in your ACUR you will always fail to navigate to that StartPage.

StartPage navigation

When your app is activated for a particular activation kind, the StartPage value from the entry in your app’s manifest that corresponds to that activation kind is used as the navigation target. If the app is not already running, the app is activated, navigated to that StartPage value and then the Windows.UI.WebUI.WebUIApplication activated event is fired (more details on the order of various events in a moment). If, however, your app is already running and an activation occurs, we navigate or don’t navigate to the corresponding StartPage depending on the current page of the app. Take the app’s current top level document’s URI and if after removing the fragment it already matches the StartPage value then we won’t navigate and will jump straight to firing the WebUIApplication activated event.

Since navigating the top-level document means destroying the current JavaScript engine instance and losing all your state, this behavior might be a problem for you. If so, you can use the MSApp.pageHandlesAllApplicationActivations(true) API to always skip navigating to the StartPage and instead always jump straight to firing the WebUIApplication activated event. This does require of course that all of your pages all handle all activation kinds about which any part of your app cares.


Tweet from NASA Planetquest

2017 Jan 26, 10:25
See another solar system! These are real images of a 4-planet system ~130 light-years from . Read about it: 

Tweet from David Risney

2016 Nov 18, 4:11
@PA_Megacorp I read the title as Couchomancy and imagined a necromancer that summons couches. No one steal my new YA fantasy novel idea pls

Let's Encrypt Update

2016 Nov 5, 8:59

Since I had last posted about using Let's Encrypt with NearlyFreeSpeech, NFS has changed their process for setting TLS info. Instead of putting the various files in /home/protected/ssl and submitting an assistance request, now there is a command to submit the certificate info and a webpage for submitting the certificate info.

The webpage is{username}/sites/{sitename}/add_tls and has a textbox for you to paste in all the cert info in PEM form into the textbox. The domain key, the domain certificate, and the Let's Encrypt intermediate cert must be pasted into the textbox and submitted.

Alternatively, that same info may be provided as standard input to nfsn -i set-tls

To renew my certificate with the updated NFS process I followed the commands from Andrei Damian-Fekete's script which depends on

python --account-key account.key --csr domain.csr --acme-dir /home/public/.well-known/acme-challenge/ > signed.crt
wget -O - > intermediate.pem
cat domain.key signed.crt intermediate.pem > chained.pem
nfsn -i set-tls < chained.pem
Because my certificate had already expired I needed to comment out the section in that validates the challenge file. The filenames in the above map to the following:
  • signed.crt is the Let's Encrypt provided certificate
  • account.key is the user private key registered with LE
  • domain.csr is the cert request
  • domain.key is the key for the domain cert
PermalinkCommentscertificate lets-encrypt

Tweet from Open Culture

2016 Nov 2, 4:31
Read the CIA’s Simple Sabotage Field Manual. How to Subvert Organizations with “Purposeful Stupidity” (1944) 

Tweet from David Risney

2016 Sep 16, 12:10
@ericlaw "Any A.I. smart enough to pass a Turing test is smart enough to know to fail it." 

Tweet from Anil Before Zod

2016 Aug 18, 5:42
More than 2000 kids' lives were ruined by the "kids for cash" bribery scandal, including some suicides; the CEO who did it is already free.

Data breakpoints in JavaScript

2016 Jun 17, 5:44

The other day I had to debug a JavaScript UWA that was failing when trying to use an undefined property. In a previous OS build this code would run and the property was defined. I wanted something similar to windbg/cdb's ba command that lets me set a breakpoint on read or writes to a memory location so I could see what was creating the object in the previous OS build and what that code was doing now in the current OS build. I couldn't find such a breakpoint mechanism in Visual Studio or F12 so I wrote a little script to approximate JavaScript data breakpoints.

The script creates a stub object with a getter and setter. It actually performs the get or set but also calls debugger; to break in the debugger. In order to handle my case of needing to break when window.object1.object2 was created or accessed, I further had it recursively set up such stub objects for the matching property names.

Its not perfect because it is an enumerable property and shows up in hasOwnProperty and likely other places. But for your average code that checks for the existence of a property via if ( it works well.

PermalinkCommentsdebug debugging javascript

Windows Store App WebView Cross Origin XMLHttpRequest Behavior

2016 Jun 2, 6:45

TL;DR: Web content in a JavaScript Windows Store app or WebView in a Windows Store app that has full access to WinRT also gets to use XHR unrestricted by cross origin checks.

By default web content in a WebView control in a Windows Store App has the same sort of limitations as that web content in a web browser. However, if you give the URI of that web content full access to WinRT, then the web content also gains the ability to use XMLHttpRequest unrestricted by cross origin checks. This means no CORS checks and no OPTIONS requests. This only works if the web content's URI matches a Rule in the ApplicationContentUriRules of your app's manifest and that Rule declares WindowsRuntimeAccess="all". If it declares WinRT access as 'None' or 'AllowForWebOnly' then XHR acts as it normally does.

In terms of security, if you've already given a page access to all of WinRT which includes the HttpRequest class and other networking classes that don't perform cross origin checks, then allowing XHR to skip CORS doesn't make things worse.

PermalinkCommentsjavascript uwa uwp web webview windows winrt xhr

Tweet from David Risney

2016 Apr 28, 7:21
Wired's pay readers get https:  Sounds like you're paying for https but really its lack of ads makes https practical

Retweet of SwiftOnSecurity

2016 Feb 16, 5:06
#MustRead Apple CEO Tim Cook's letter to customers on FBI's request for assistance hacking an iPhone 5c …

Cdb/Windbg Commands for Runtime Patching

2016 Feb 8, 1:47

You can use conditional breakpoints and debugging commands in windbg and cdb that together can amount to effectively patching a binary at runtime. This can be useful if you have symbols but you can't easily rebuild the binary. Or if the patch is small and the binary requires a great deal of time to rebuild.

Skipping code

If you want to skip a chunk of code you can set a breakpoint at the start address of the code to skip and set the breakpoint's command to change the instruction pointer register to point to the address at the end of the code to skip and go. Voila you're skipping over that code now. For example:

bp 0x6dd6879b "r @eip=0x6dd687c3 ; g"

Changing parameters

You may want to modify parameters or variables and this is simple of course. In the following example a conditional breakpoint ANDs out a bit from dwFlags. Now when we run its as if no one is passing in that flag.

bp wiwi!RelativeCrack "?? dwFlags &= 0xFDFFFFFF;g"

Slightly more difficult is to modify string values. If the new string length is the same size or smaller than the previous, you may be able to modify the string value in place. But if the string is longer or the string memory isn't writable, you'll need a new chunk of memory into which to write your new string. You can use .dvalloc to allocate some memory and ezu to write a string into the newly allocated memory. In the following example I then overwrite the register containing the parameter I want to modify:

.dvalloc 100
ezu 000002a9`d4eb0000 "mfcore.dll"
r rcx = 000002a9`d4eb0000

Calling functions

You can also use .call to actually make new calls to methods or functions. Read more about that on the Old New Thing: Stupid debugger tricks: Calling functions and methods. Again, all of this can be used in a breakpoint command to effectively patch a binary.

PermalinkCommentscdb debug technical windbg

Let's Encrypt Setup

2016 Feb 4, 2:48

2016-Nov-5: Updated post on using Let's Encrypt with

I use for my webhosting for my personal website and I've just finished setting up TLS via Let's Encrypt. The process was slightly more complicated than what you'd like from Let's Encrypt. So for those interested in doing the same on, I've taken the following notes.

The standard Let's Encrypt client requires su/sudo access which is not available on's servers. Additionally NFSN's webserver doesn't have any Let's Encrypt plugins installed. So I used the Let's Encrypt Without Sudo client. I followed the instructions listed on the tool's page with the addition of providing the "--file-based" parameter to

One thing the script doesn't produce is the chain file. But this topic "Let's Encrypt - Quick HOWTO for NSFN" covers how to obtain that:

curl -o domain.chn

Now that you have all the required files, on your NFSN server make the directory /home/protected/ssl and copy your files into it. This is described in the NFSN topic provide certificates to NFSN. After copying the files and setting their permissions as described in the previous link you submit an assistance request. For me it was only 15 minutes later that everything was setup.

After enabling HTTPS I wanted to have all HTTP requests redirect to HTTPS. The normal Apache documentation on how to do this doesn't work on NFSN servers. Instead the NFSN FAQ describes it in "redirect http to https and HSTS". You use the X-Forwarded-Proto instead of the HTTPS variable because of how NFSN's virtual hosting is setup.

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP:X-Forwarded-Proto} !https
RewriteRule ^.*$ https://%{SERVER_NAME}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

Turning on HSTS is as simple as adding the HSTS HTTP header. However, the description in the above link didn't work because my site's NFSN realm isn't on the latest Apache yet. Instead I added the following to my .htaccess. After I'm comfortable with everything working well for a few days I'll start turning up the max-age to the recommended minimum value of 180 days.

Header set Strict-Transport-Security "max-age=3600;" 

Finally, to turn on CSP I started up Fiddler with my CSP Fiddler extension. It allows me to determine the most restrictive CSP rules I could apply and still have all resources on my page load. From there I found and removed inline script and some content loaded via http and otherwise continued tweaking my site and CSP rules.

After I was done I checked out my site on SSL Lab's SSL Test to see what I might have done wrong or needed improving. The first time I went through these steps I hadn't included the chain file which the SSL Test told me about. I was able to add that file to the same files I had already previously generated from the Let's Encrypt client and do another NFSN assistance request and 15 minutes later the SSL Test had upgraded me from 'B' to 'A'.

PermalinkCommentscertificate csp hsts https lets-encrypt

Retweet of JustRogDigiTec

2016 Jan 22, 5:43
This is becoming increasingly more relevant as high quality games/apps move to #html5 …#html5games #webGL

Tweet from David_Risney

2015 Dec 23, 9:23
Doctor Who rerun on after watching Jessica Jones. The Doctor suddenly seems so sinister. Don't read the psychic paper!
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