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Internet & Web Security. References & Resources. Lincoln Stein, Web Security: A Step-by-Step Reference Guide Larry J. Hughes, Jr., Internet Security Techniques. What is web security?. Three parts of web security Three points of view Risks. Three components of web security. Browser Server

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Internet web security

Internet & Web Security

References resources

References & Resources

  • Lincoln Stein, Web Security: A Step-by-Step Reference Guide

  • Larry J. Hughes, Jr., Internet Security Techniques

What is web security

What is web security?

  • Three parts of web security

  • Three points of view

  • Risks

Three components of web security

Three components of web security

  • Browser

  • Server

  • Connection between the two (I.e., the Internet!)

Three points of view

Three points of view

  • User’s

  • Webmaster’s

  • Both parties’

User s point of view

User’s point of view

  • Remote server’s ownership known and true

  • No viruses or other damaging documents / sw

  • Remote server respects user’s privacy

    • Doesn’t obtain / record / distribute private info

Webmaster s point of view

Webmaster’s point of view

  • User won’t try to break in / alter contents

  • User won’t try to gain access to documents s/he’s not privy to

  • User won’t try to crash the server

  • User’s ID (if provided!) is true

Both parties point of view

Both parties’ point of view

  • Network connection free of eavesdropping

  • Info between browser and server delivered intact, free from tampering

Three interdependent parts

Three (interdependent) parts

  • Document confidentiality

  • Client-side security

  • Server-side security

Document confidentiality

Document confidentiality

  • Protect private information from

    • Eavesdropping

    • Fraudulent identities

  • Mostly via cryptography

Client side security

Client-side security

  • Protect user’s privacy and system’s integrity

    • Virus protection

    • Limit amount of info browser transmits (without user’s consent)

  • Protect organizations confidential information / network integrity

    • From Web browsing activities

Server side security

Server-side security

  • Protect server from

    • Break-ins

    • Site vandalism

    • Denial-of-service attacks

  • Mostly firewalls and OS security measures



  • Risks that affect both client and server

  • Risks to the end user

  • Risks to the web site

Risks that affect both client and server

Risks that affect both client and server

  • Eavesdropping

    • “Packet sniffers” (more …)

  • Fraud

Network snooping sniffing

Network snooping (sniffing) ...

  • Abuse of network debugging tools ...

  • Network interface into promiscuous mode ...

  • Solution: encrypt

Abuse of network debugging tools

Abuse of network debugging tools ...

  • E.g., Network General's Expert Sniffer

  • etherfind (SunOS)

  • tcpdump (free on Internet)

  • Sniffer FAQ

    •, news.answers



Network interface into promiscuous mode

Network interface into promiscuous mode ...

  • Report all packets to sniffer

    • Display / record

    • Analyze

  • Remote also possible



  • Authenticate

    • Individuals, organizations

    • Transactions

    • Documents

  • Solution: digital signatures, certification authorities

Risks to the end user

Risks to the end user

  • Active content

  • Privacy infringement

Active content

Active content

  • Browsers download and run SW without notice

  • Java applets

  • ActiveX controls

  • Plug-ins

  • Helper app’s

  • JavaScript

  • Malicious (not many) / buggy (???)

Privacy infringement

Privacy infringement

  • Site-collected data on visitors

    • Server log (time, date, IP addr., document, referrer URL)

    • Proxy servers log (every site visited)

    • Cookies

  • User-provided data

  • Solutions: e.g., “stealth browser”

Risks to the web site

Risks to the web site

  • Webjacking

  • Server and LAN break-ins

  • Denial-of-service attacks



  • Break in & modify contents

  • Happens(ed) a lot

  • How?

    • Exploit holes in

      • OS, Web server, buggy SW

        • CGI scripts

Server and lan break ins

Server and LAN break-ins

  • Various attacks at different protocol layers (OSI, more …)

  • Defense: firewall

Denial of service attacks

Denial-of-service attacks

  • Cause server to crash / hang / “crawl”

    • OS, server, CGI scripts, Web site services

  • No real defenses

    • Place limits on resources used by server / other sw

    • Close known holes

Part i document confidentiality

Part I: Document confidentiality

  • Basic cryptography

  • SSL, SET, and Digital Payment Systems

Basic cryptography

Basic cryptography

  • How cryptography works

  • Symmetric cryptography

  • Public key cryptography

  • Online Resources

  • Printed Resources

How cryptography works

How cryptography works

  • Plaintext

  • Ciphertext

  • Cryptographic algorithm

  • Key







Simple cryptosystem

Simple cryptosystem ...

  • Caesar Cipher

    • Simple substitution cipher

  • ROT-13

    • half alphabet ==> 2 x ==> plaintext

Keys cryptosystems

Keys cryptosystems …

  • keys and keyspace ...

  • secret-key and public-key ...

  • key management ...

  • strength of key systems ...

Keys and keyspace

Keys and keyspace …

  • ROT: key is N

  • Brute force: 25 values of N

  • IDEA in PGP: 2128 numeric keys

  • 1 billion keys / sec ==> >10,781,000,000,000,000,000,000 years

Symmetric cryptography









Symmetric cryptography

  • DES

  • Triple DES, DESX, GDES, RDES

  • RC2, RC4, RC5

  • IDEA

  • Blowfish

Internet web security


  • Data Encryption Standard

  • US NIST (‘70s)

  • 56-bit key

    • Good then

    • Not enough now (cracked June 1997)

  • Discrete blocks of 64 bits

  • Often w/ CBC (cipherblock chaining)

    • Each blocks encr. depends on contents of previous

Triple des desx gdes rdes


  • Variants on DES: decrease risk of brute-force guessing

  • Triple-DES

    • 1. W/ Key 1

    • 2. W/ Key 2

    • 3. W/ Key 1

  • ==> Effective key length ~168 bits

Rc2 rc4 rc5

RC2, RC4, RC5

  • Proprietary (RSA Data Security, Inc.)

  • Variable length keys (up to 2,048 bits)

  • Outside US: 40-bit versions of RC2 & RC4

    • ==> Web browsers & servers

Internet web security


  • Int’l Data Encryption Algorithm

  • Patented (AscomTech AG)

  • Popular in Europe

  • 128-bit key ==> more secure than DES

  • (One of) at heart of PGP

  • (Other is RSA)



  • Unpatented (Bruce Schneier)

  • In many commercial & freeware

  • Var-length key (up to 448 bits)

Symmetric not fit for internet

Symmetric not fit for Internet

  • Spontaneous comm ==> can’t exchange keys

  • Multiway comm ==> key secrecy compromised

Public key cryptography

Public key cryptography

  • Two-in-one

    • Cryptography

    • Digital signatures

Public key cryptography1




Recipient’s secret key

Recipient’s public key


Public key cryptography

  • Asymmetric






Digital signatures




Sender’s public key

Sender’s secret key




Digital signatures

  • But, problem ...

Authenticated Plaintext


Digital signature




Problem ...

  • Can cut & paste from older

  • Solutions

    • A --> B: random “challenge” phrase

    • B --> A: sign w/ secret key, return

    • A: decrypts w/ B’s public key, compare to original

  • Or, message digest functions

Combining cryptography and digital signature


Recipient’s secret key




Sender’s public key

Recipient’s public key



Sender’s secret key

Combining cryptography and digital signature

Signature text (“challenge”)

Message text

Authenticated Message



Digital signature




Message digest functions message integrity

Message digest functions & message integrity

  • One-way hashes

  • Digital fingerprint for original message

  • Sender ...

  • Recipient



  • 1. Run message through digest function

  • 2. Sign hash with secret key

  • 3. Send signed hash & original message to recipient



  • Decrypt hash w/ sender’s public key

  • Compare with result of running message through digest function

  • Match ==> verified integrity

  • In SSL (later): Message Authenticity Check (MAC)

    • MAC = digest(secret + digest(secret - message))

Message digest functions

Message digest functions

  • MD4 (Rivest, MIT)

    • 128-bit hashes

    • Weaknesses ==>

  • MD5 (Rivest)

    • Most widely used

  • SHA: Secure Hash Algorithm (NIST)

    • 160-bit hash

Digital envelopes

Digital envelopes

  • Public key encryption SLOWER than symmetric ==> Hybrid

  • 1. Random secret key (“session key”; discard when done)

  • 2. Encrypt message w/ session key & symmetric alg.

  • Encrypt session key w/ recipient’s public key (==> “digital envelope”)

  • Send encrypted message + digital envelope

Digital envelopes1




Session key

Session key

Recipient’s secret key


Recipient’s public key



Digital envelopes

Message plaintext

Message plaintext


Certifying authorities public key infrastructure

Certifying authorities & public key infrastructure

  • Large public-key database

  • ==> management? Trusted third party

  • Certifying authorities (CA)

Certifying authorities ca



Individual’s public key

CA’s secret key

Certifying authorities (CA)

Certifying Authority (CA):

1. Verify individual’s ID

2. Create certificate

3. Generate message digest from certificate,

signs hash w/ its secret key

4. Return certificate to individual

Individual’s distinguished name

Signed certificate

Certificate request

(w/ public key)

ID info

$$$ Pay CA’s fee

Public key infrastructure

Public key infrastructure

  • Site certificates: authenticate Web servers

  • Personal certificate: individuals

  • SW publisher certificates: executables

  • Certifying authority certificates

  • Common format: X.509v3

  • CPS: certification practice statement

Root cas certificate chains

Root CAs & certificate chains

  • Browsers delivered w/ signed certificates of well-known CAs (root)

  • Root CAs can sign

    • End user’s public key

    • Another (secondary) CA’s public key

      • ==> Signing authority

      • ==> Certificate chain

      • ==> “Hierarchy of trust”

Certificate expiration and revocation list

Certificate expiration and revocation list

  • Invalidate public/secret key pair

    • Loss/corruption/theft of secret key

    • Change in ID info in certificate

    • Compromise of CA’s secret key

  • CRL: Certificate Revocation List

  • Certificate expiration date (1 year)

Diffie helman encrypton without authentication

Diffie-Helman: encrypton without authentication

  • Encryption + authentication usually together

  • At least one party produces signed certificate ==> no anonymous comm.

  • Diffie-Helman key exchange: negotiate session key wo sending key

  • Each party picks partial key independently

Diffie helman cont

Diffie-Helman (cont.)

  • Send part of key info

  • Other side calculates common key value

  • Eavesdropper can’t reconstruct key

  • Use symmetric algorithm

  • Discard session key at end

  • No authentication ==> “man-in-the-middle” attack

Man in the middle attack

Man-in-the-middle attack

  • A, B want to communicate

  • C imposes in network between two wo arousing suspicions

  • A negotiates w/ C thinking it’s B

  • B negotiates w/ C thinking it’s A

  • A & B sending messages, C relaying

  • A & B think comm is secure; C reads & can modify

  • Hard to accomplish

Securing private secret keys

Securing private (secret) keys

  • Stored on hard disk encrypted

  • When first invoked, prompt for pass phrase to unlock

  • Key read into memory

  • Problem: virus/other sw looking for private keys

  • Solution: on ROM on smart card (take away)

Key length and security

Key length and security

  • Longer key ==> more secure message

  • How long? How secure?

  • Good alg. + implementation + key management ==> brute-force only

  • Cost to crack vs. cost of normal use

  • Estimated cracking cost...

Estimated cracking cost

Cost ($)

Key length

40 bits

56 bits

64 bits

80 bits

128 bits

$ thousands





> Age of universe

$ millions

< 1 Second




> Age of universe

Estimated cracking cost...

Key length us encryption policy

Key length & US encryption policy

  • Strong encryption classified as munition

  • SW must get export license

  • RC2, RC4 w/ 40-bit keys (or less)

  • RSA w/ 512-bit keys

  • Digital signature but no encryption

  • Financial app’s (e.g., Quicken)

Us policy continued

US policy continued

  • Slowing effect on SW dev

  • Online products limited to export version

  • ==> Most browsers crippled

  • Servers overseas crippled

  • Must have both side for secure transaction

  • Versions of Netscape + IE exempt ==>128-bit keys



  • Stein’s on-line resource

  • B. Schneier: Practical Cryptography, 2nd Edition (Wiley, 1995)

  • R. E. Smith: Internet Cryptography (Addison-Wesley, 1997)

Ssl set and digital payment systems

SSL, SET, and Digital Payment Systems

  • Internet cryptographic protocols

  • SSL: Secure Sockets Layer

  • SET: Secure Electronic Transactions

  • Other Digital Payment Systems

Internet cryptographic protocols

Internet cryptographic protocols

Ssl secure sockets layer

SSL: Secure Sockets Layer

  • History

  • Characteristics

  • SSL Transaction

Ssl history

SSL History

  • 1994: Netscape Navigator 1.0

  • 1994: S-HTTP (CommerceNet)

  • Similarities: digital envelopes, signed certificates, message digest

  • Differences

    • S-HTTP: Web protocol; pay (dead)

    • SSL: Lower level; free

Ssl cracked

SSL cracked

  • 1995, 1997: 40-bit keys (1 wk, 3.5 hrs)

  • 1997: predictable session keys

  • 1997: sniffer ==> file sharing attack discovered

Ssl characteristics





Network interface

Physical layer

SSL Characteristics






Ssl characteristics cont

SSL Characteristics (cont.)

  • Flexibility, protocol independence

  • Not specifically tuned for HTTP

  • SSL connection must use dedicated TCP/IP socket

  • Distinct port for SSL-mode server (443)

  • Flexibility re symmetric encryption alg., message digest function, authentication method

Ssl connection all encrypted

SSL connection ==> all encrypted

  • URL of requested document

  • Contents of requested document

  • Contents of any submitted form

  • Cookies sent from browser to server

  • Cookies send from server to browser

  • Contents of HTTP header

Ssl transaction

1. ClientHello message

2. ServerHello (ack)

3. Server’s signed site certficate (+chain)

[4. Request client’s certificate]


Client (browser)

[5. Client’s certificate]

6. ClientKeyExchange message (symmetric session key, digital envelope)

[7. Certificate Verify message (digital signature)]

8. ChangeCipherSpec messages (both)

9. Finished messages (both)

SSL transaction

Set secure electronic transactions

SET: Secure Electronic Transactions

  • What is SET?

  • Why not just use SSL?

  • SET in a Nutshell

  • SET user interface

What is set secure electronic transactions

What is SET (Secure Electronic Transactions)?

  • Cryptogrqphic protocol

  • Visa, Mastercard, Netscape, Microsoft

  • Only for credit- and debit-card transactions

  • SET low-level services ...

  • SET high-level features ...

Set low level services

SET low-level services ...

  • Authentication

  • Confidentiality

  • Linkage

Set high level features

SET high-level features ...

  • Cardholder registration

  • Merchant registration

  • Purchase requests

  • Payment authorization

  • Payment capture (funds transfer)

  • Chargebacks (refunds)

  • Credits

  • Credit reversals

  • Debit card transactions

Why not just use ssl

Why not just use SSL?

  • SSL: no support for high-level features

  • Server-side security

  • Avoid misuse of credit card number guessers

  • Avoid general-purpose U.S. export restrictions

    • Financial transactions excluded

Set in a nutshell

SET in a nutshell

  • 1. Customer initiates purchase

  • 2. Client’s SW send order & payment info

  • 3. Merchant passes payment info to bank

  • 4. Bank checks validity of card

  • 5. Card issuer authorizes & signs charge slip

  • 6. Merchant’s bank authorizes transaction

  • 7. Merchant’s Web server completes transaction

  • 8. Merchant “captures” transaction

  • 9. Card issuer sends bill to customer

Set notes functional

SET notes (functional)

  • Authentication in every phase

    • ==> Certificates for card issuer, merchant’s bank

    • All must register

      • ==> SW generates public & secret keys

  • Two key pairs for certain parts of protocol

Set notes technical

SET notes (technical)

  • Secure Hash Algorithms (SHA)

    • ==> 160-bit hash

  • Public/secret key pair: RSA, 1,024 bit

  • Symmetric encryption: DES

    • 56-bit key

    • ==> Cost of cracking assumed higher than value of single credit card transaction

Other digital payment systems

Other digital payment systems

  • Why need other payment systems?

  • First Virtual

  • CyberCash

  • DigiCash

  • Millicent

Why need other payment systems

Why need other payment systems?

  • SET: credit/debit cards

  • ==> Transaction fees

  • ==> Not economical for low-cost

    • ==> Not good for impulse buying

  • Not anonymous

  • ==> E-money

    • Cryptography ==> complex systems

First virtual

First Virtual

  • For intangibles (SW, web pages, games)

  • No encryption, all secret info previously by phone

  • Only PIN #

  • Merchant has CGI script to validate PIN

  • E-mail to customer w/ details of purchase to be approved



  • User: CyberCash Wallet SW on PC

  • Credit card / bank account info encrypted there

  • Merchant: Electronic Cash Register SW on server

  • Strong encryption

  • High transaction overhead

  • CyberCoin for small payments



  • Like phone cards/subway tokens

  • CyberBucks: electronic voucher

  • User mints, banks signs

  • Cost of signing = face value

  • Digitally signed w/ public key encryption

  • Can’t trace, unless try to use twice

  • Transmit money safely between peers wo bank



  • DEC, late 1996

  • Low overhead, up to $5

  • Brokers & scrips (like gift certificate)

  • Merchant produces & validates

  • Broker sells at markup

  • ==> No centralized server for validation (bottleneck)

  • No strong cryptography (small amounts)

Part ii client side security

Part II: Client-side security

  • Using SSL

  • Active content

  • Web privacy

Using ssl

Using SSL

  • SSL at work

  • Personal certificates

  • Checklist

Ssl at work

SSL at work

  • Establishing an SSL connection

  • Things to watch for

Establishing an ssl connection

Establishing an SSL connection

  • URL must begin with https (“HTTP-secure”)

  • Thin blue line between URL & content

  • Key at bottom left: solid

    • Usually broken

  • Key has two teeth ==> crippled export-grade encryption

  • Communicator: padlock instead of key

More info about secure session

More info about secure session

  • Click key/lock, or “security” button

  • Scroll down to get info about security and certificates

Things to watch for

Things to watch for

  • Site name mismatches

  • Mixed pages

  • Export & domestic-grade cryptography

  • Certificate revocation and expiration

  • CA and site certificates

Site name mismatches

Site name mismatches

  • Validation of site’s certificate

  • Mismatch ==> warning

  • User’s option, continue or stop

  • Check remote site’s certificate manually before submitting confidential info.

Mixed pages

Mixed pages

  • Can have mix un / encrypted

  • E.g., inline images of main SSL, wo

  • Doc info window show security info for ea element separately

  • Can have browser warn

  • Watch: form submitted without encryption

  • Have browser warn when submitting forms unencrypted

Export domestic grade cryptography

Export & domestic-grade cryptography

  • If downloaded from FTP or Web site ==> crippled version (probably)

  • U.S., Canada: buy shrink-wrapped

  • Other: Safe Passage (small Web proxy)

    • Joint product: C2Net Inc & Thawte Comm Ltd.

  • Proxy: uses strong encryption

Certificate revocation and expiration

Certificate revocation and expiration

  • Site certificate may be revoked

    • New to replace old cert (e.g., typo)

    • Site’s private key compromised

  • Serial # stored in cert. revocation list (maintained by CA)

  • Browsers don’t check list!

  • Only know when cert expires

  • If confidential info: CANCEL

Ca and site certificates

CA and site certificates

  • Browser comes w/ public keys of CAs

    • “Self-signed” certificates

      • CA signed

    • View: Options->Security Preferences->Site Certificates->Signers

    • Can view contents

    • Can delete

      • E.g., Netscape Test CA (meaningless)

Ca and site certificates cont

CA and site certificates (cont.)

  • Can deactivate without deleting

  • Can require warning before sending to sites certified by particular CA

  • Certificate from CA not on list?

    • Netscape: warning, accept / reject?

    • IE: reject, display warning, cannot complete connection

  • Can install additional CA certficates

Ca vs site certificates

CA vs. site certificates

  • Accept site certificate: tell browser that willing to exchange SSL-encrypted messages with one site

  • CA certificate: trust every site w/ cert signed by that CA

    • Be more careful!

  • Communicator->Security Info

Personal certificates

Personal certificates

  • Analogous to site certificate

  • Name, e-mail, public-key

  • Signed by CA

  • VeriSign personal certificates

  • Obtaining a VeriSign personal certificate

  • Browser SSL settings

Verisign personal certificates

VeriSign personal certificates

  • Obtain own “digital ID”

  • Small fee

  • Two types

    • Class 1: casual use ($9.95/yr.)

    • Class 2: some guarantee of ID ($19.95/yr.)

    • (Class 3: high security; announced, not available yet)

Class 1 casual use

Class 1: casual use

  • To obtain: complete form on VeriSign site

    • Auto process

    • No validation of info entered

    • Receive e-mail when signed cert ready

      • URL and access code to retrieve

Class 2 some guarantee of id

Class 2: some guarantee of ID

  • To obtain: provide mailing address, driver’s license, ss #

  • Will be issued after validation of info w/ credit bureau

  • Info to retrieve sent by surface mail (prevent fraud)

What can you do with a verisign id

What can you do with a VeriSign ID?

  • Not very much, at the moment

  • Few Web sites collect to customize

  • In the future: members-only areas

  • Send/receive encrypted e-mail

  • Reliability?

    • Class 1: No proof of ID

    • Class 2: better, but not fullproof

Send receive encrypted e mail

Send/receive encrypted e-mail

  • S/MIME (Secure Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions): not yet popular

  • Can search a user’s cert, install & use

  • Better: PGP

    • Free, widely used, no reliance on 3rd party certification

Disadvantages of using personal certificate

Disadvantages of using personal certificate

  • Give up anonymity

  • SSL site can require browser to present certificate

  • Site’s use of info unknown (marketing, mailing lists)

  • Important in SET, corp. intranets

Obtaining a verisign personal certificate

Obtaining a VeriSign personal certificate

  • Steps to obtain -- omitted

Browser ssl settings

Browser SSL settings

  • Alert before

    • Entering, leaving secure doc space (server)

    • Viewing doc w/ secure/insecure mix

    • Submitting form insecurely

  • Control SSL protocol

    • SSL 2.0, 3.0, passwords

    • Caching of SSL retrieved documents [off]



  • Always use SSL browser for confidential info

  • Never use crippled export-grade cryptography browser for confidential documents

  • Password-protect personal certificate

  • Never accept CA certificate from unknown Web site

  • Back up personal certificates

Online resources

Online Resources

  • VeriSign:

  • Safe passage:

  • PGP:

  • RSA Data Security (S/MIME):

  • Simple Perl-based packet sniffer:

  • Tcpdump & libpcap (required for sniffer):, libpcap.tar.Z

Printed resources

Printed Resources

  • Garfinkel, Simson: Pretty Good Privacy, O’Reilly & Assoc. 1995

Active content1

Active content

  • Bad by design or bad by accident?

  • Traditional threats

  • Helper applications and plug-ins

  • Java

  • ActiveX

  • JavaScript and VBScript

  • Exotic technologies

  • What can you do

  • Changing active content settings

  • Checklist

  • Resources

Bad by design or bad by accident

Bad by design or bad by accident?

  • E.g., the Moldovan scam

    • Pornography site

    • Download viewer

    • Viewer disconnect user, turn off speakers, reconnect to ISP in Moldova (“900”)

    • Even when leave site, still connected

Traditional threats

Traditional threats

  • Trojan horses

    • Pretend; introduce viruses, etc.

  • Viruses

  • Macro viruses

    • Across OSs

  • Rabbits: many copies

  • Worms: like rabbits, but spread across Net

Helper applications and plug ins

Helper applications and plug-ins

  • Keep to bare minimum

  • Only from trusted sources

  • Check vendor’s support pages for discovered security holes

Internet web security


  • Applet security restrictions

  • Hostile applets

  • Annoying applets

  • Inadequate applets

Java applets

Java applets

  • <applet code = “example_applet” codebase = “”<param name = “image” value = “example.gif”><param name = “color” value = “blue”></applet>

Applet security restrictions

Applet security restrictions

  • Applet cannot

    • Read from / write to local disk

    • Access physical HW

      • Memory, disk drives, drivers

    • Access sys env info

    • Invoke sys commands / run external programs

    • Open network connections, only “home” (“phone-home restriction”)

Hostile applets

Hostile applets

  • Failure of phone-home restriction

  • Execute arbitrary machine instructions

  • Bypass Java security manager with hand-crafted bytecode

Failure of phone home restriction

Failure of phone-home restriction

  • 1996, Steve Gibbons, Edward Felten (independetly)

  • Temporary subvert domain-name system

  • ==> Circumvent net connection restriction

  • Send out hostile applet

    • Contact any machine on Net

    • Including on user’s side of firewall

    • Navigator 2.0; fixed (?) 2.01

Execute arbitrary machine instructions

Execute arbitrary machine instructions

  • Bug in Java interpreter loading of libraries

  • ==> Remote users can circumvent

  • Trick browser to download code library

    • Disguise as “broken” inline image

  • ==> Place in browser cache

  • Send applet that loads code

  • Library not restricted by security manager

  • ==> Applet “broken out of sandbox”

  • ==> Can do whatever it wishes

  • Navigtor 2.0, 2.01; fixed 2.02

Bypass java security manager with hand crafted bytecode

Bypass Java security manager with hand-crafted bytecode

  • Sun, March 1997

  • Bug in Java bytecode verifier

  • Hand-craft bytecode

  • ==> Bypass Java security manager

  • ==> Execute forbidden commands

  • IE 3.01, NN 3.01; fixed later

Another phone home restriction bug

Another phone-home restriction bug

  • Applets make network connections to machines behind corporate firewall

  • NN 3.02, 4.01; IE not known

  • No known fix

Summary no known attacks

Summary: No known attacks

  • Any of bugs

  • Theoretical

  • Most closed

  • Holes may exist

  • Security model sound

Annoying applets

Annoying applets

  • Infinite loop; slow machine

  • Allocate large memory structures

  • Make multiple copies of self in memory

  • Open window larger than desktop, prevent from getting to other windows

  • Open new windows faster than user can close

  • Windowing op’s that crash browser

Inadequate applets

Inadequate applets

  • Sandbox prevent bad and good

  • Future: control stepping out

    • Grant rights to read, write, print, make net connections

      • Selected files, dirs., locations

    • Code signing: authenticate ==> privileges

  • For now: run or not



  • ActiveX vs. Java

  • Authenticode system

  • Is ActiveX safe?

Activex control

ActiveX control

  • <object id = “example_control” classid = “clsid:7223B620-9FF9-11AF-00AA00C06662” codebase = “” width = 70 height = 40><param name = “image” value = “example.gif”><param name = color” value = “blue”><param name = “_version” value = “3”></object>

Activex vs java

ActiveX vs. Java

  • Stripped down OLE

  • Everything Java applets do

  • Written in conventional language

  • Compiled into machine native code

  • Browser downloads control

  • Calls O, load to mem, exec.

  • Must be recompiled for OS / HW

Programmer s advantages

Programmer’s advantages

  • Use familiar compilers & languages

  • Use existing programs, OLE components, libraries

  • Controls can do anything

    • Save to disk, report statistics, test network, check for viruses

Authenticode system

Authenticode system

  • ActiveX controls cryptographically signed by authors before release

  • Uniquely identify SW developer

  • Provide guarantee that SW hasn’t been modified since signed

  • Browser checks signature

  • Similar process to other certification

Is activex safe

Is ActiveX safe?

  • MS: Authenticode keeps “bad” SW developers away

    • Same protection as with SW in store

  • 1. Evil hacker won’t apply for cert

  • 2. Developer introducing malicious control ==> breaking pledge

  • 3. Authenticode give way to identify source of malicious control

Is activex safe cont

Is ActiveX safe? (cont.)

  • Basic assumption: protection from “bad by design”

  • Historically, most security holes “by accident”

    • Well-intended developers

  • Authenticode doesn’t help here

  • Also, no protection from viruses introduced during dev process

Is activex safe cont1

Is ActiveX safe? (cont.)

  • Main problem: binary trust model

    • Not trusted / trusted completely

  • Better model: finer gradation of trust

    • And privileges

  • Controlling ActiveX:

    • Don’t run at all (recommended)

    • Run signed controls automatically / Warn before running unsigned

    • Run all always

Javascript and vbscript

JavaScript and VBScript

  • JavaScript security problems

  • VBScript security problems

Javascript security problems

JavaScript security problems

  • Send email in user’s name

  • Get directory listing on local file sys

  • Upload contents of a file

  • Monitor pages visited by user

  • Log images viewed by user

  • Can be used to make denial-of-service attacks

Can be used to make denial of service attacks

Can be used to make denial-of-service attacks

  • Start CPU-intensive task

    • Allocate large mem chunk

    • ==> Slow system down to crawl

  • Make browser open windows faster than can close

  • Cause browser to quit / crash

Javascript security history bad

JavaScript security history: bad

  • Lots of bugs

  • Netscape planned JavaScript code signing (same tech as for Java applets)

    • Only run if originate from trusted sources

  • Until then: Turn JavaScript off!

Vbscript security problems

VBScript security problems

  • Little scrutiny by Internet community

  • No major security holes reported

  • Can be used to make denial-of-service attacks

  • Might have to reboot machine to regain control

Browser as security hole

Browser as security hole

  • No need for active content to compromise security

  • Bug can (have) be(en) exploited

  • E.g., IE, shortcut files copied to server + accessed over Internet

    • Open copy on user’s local machine, not server

Browser as security hole cont

Browser as security hole (cont.)

  • MS IIS challenge-response authentication

    • Fool IE to think that IIS wants authentication

    • ==> Hand over user’s password

  • Protection:

  • NT: hard-to-guess password

  • Firewall to reject file-sharing requests

  • Don’t run browser under admin acct

Exotic technologies

Exotic technologies

  • E.g., XML, dHTML, PointCast, VRML 2.0

  • Security “audit”:

  • 1. Command language interpretation?

  • 2. Modify files on user’s computer?

  • 3. Transmist info back to server?

  • 4. Create UI that mimic trusted part of OS?

Exotic technologies cont

Exotic technologies (cont.)

  • If “yes” to any be prepared for problems

  • E.g., VRML 2.0

    • Hooks allw Java /JavaScript code to be attached to objects, giving them behavior

    • VRML viewers need command interpreter ==> avenue for exploitation

What can you do

What can you do

  • General precautions

    • User privileges

    • Virus checkers

    • Verify integrity of downloaded SW

    • Backups

  • Barring the gates

    • Firewalls scan HTML docs for <APPLET>, <OBJECT>

    • Ban Java, JavaScript, ActiveX

Changing active content settings

Changing active content settings

  • Internet Explorer

  • Netscape Navigator



  • 1. What plug-ins / helper app’s installed? What for?

  • 2. Scan for viruses?

  • 3. Browse while logged on as admin / root?

  • 4. Up to date on browser’s security issues?

  • 5. Really need to view active content?



  • Internet scams

  • Java applets

  • ActiveX controls & authenticode

  • Virus checkers

  • Security holes in MS IE

  • Browser security pages & alerts

Web privacy

Web privacy

  • What Web Surfing Reveals

  • Server Logs

  • Cookies

  • PICS

  • Advice for Users

  • Advice for Webmasters

  • Policy Initiatives

  • Checklist

  • Resources

What web surfing reveals

What Web Surfing Reveals

  • (Center for Democracy & Technology)

  • Name

  • Employer

  • Geographic location

  • Browser

  • URL

  • Referrer

Record of urls visited

Record of URLs visited

  • Browser

    • History file

    • Document cache

  • Firewall

    • Organization

    • ISP

  • Remote server visited

They want your data

They want your data

  • Market researchers

  • Advertisers

  • Web merchants

  • Companies in their service

    • E.g., Engage Tech

    • DoubleClick

Server logs

Server Logs

  • What’s in a log file

  • Referrer logs

  • Proxy logs

Referrer logs

Referrer logs

  • Uses & abuses

    • “Belly dancer picture”

    • Bookmark referral

    • Search engine referral

    • Local file

    • Web site referral

    • Referral from SW developer

Bookmark referral

Bookmark referral

  • -> /~lstein/

  • Behind firewall …. But

  • Have name of machine (ws084242)

  • Can extract IP address from

  • Also company name

Search engine referral

Search engine referral

  • -> /WWW/faqs/www-security-faq.html

  • Searched via Excite for netscape, cookies, and FAQ

  • Found WWW Security FAQ page

Local file

Local file

  • file:///cs2/social%20impact./security.html -> /WWW/faqs/www-security-faq.html

  • Ordinary file

Web site referral

Web site referral

  • -> /WWW/faqs/www-security-faq.html

Referral from sw developer

Referral from SW developer

  • janice.informatik.uni-dortmund.ed -> /ftp/pub/software/WWW/cgi_docs.html

Referrer log privacy infringement examples

Referrer log privacy infringement examples

  • 1. User places order on merchant site

  • 2. Enters credit card + data to form

  • 3. Submits form (SSL)

  • 4. Receives confirmation page

  • 5. Ad in confirmation page

  • 6. User clicks on ad to jump

  • 7. Here’s the referre log of new site

Referrer log of new site

Referrer log of new site

  •,Gotham+City&item=digital+altimeter&quantity=1&credit+card=4128112211331144&-> /index.html

  • What happened?

What happened

What happened?

  • GET instead of POST

    • ==> form fields appended to URL

  • Incorporated in confirmation page URL

  • Forwarded in referrer field

Proxy logs

Proxy logs

  • Middlemen between user & server

  • Large ISPs to reduce BW demand

    • Cache popular doc’s locally

  • Also in firewalls

  • Log URL, time, date, referrer

  • ==> Collect lots of data on users

  • But also preserve privacy

    • Anonymizing proxies



Internet web security


Advice for users

Advice for Users

Advice for webmasters

Advice for Webmasters

Policy initiatives

Policy Initiatives





Part iii server side security

Part III: Server-Side Security

  • Server Security

  • UNIX Web Servers

  • Windows NT Web Servers

  • Access Control

  • Encryption and Certificate-Based Access Control

  • Safe CGI Scripting

  • Remote Authoring and Administration

  • Web Servers and Firewalls

Server security

Server security

  • Why Are Web Sites Vulnerable?

  • Frequently Asked Questions About Web Server Security

  • Overview: Steps to Securing a Web Site

  • Online Resources

Unix web servers

UNIX Web servers

  • Hardening a UNIX Web Server

  • Configuring the Web Server

  • Monitoring Logs

  • Monitor the Integrity of System Files and Binaries

  • Back Up Your System

  • Checklist

  • Online Resources

  • Printed Resources

Windows nt web servers

Windows NT Web servers

  • NT Security Concepts

  • Windows NT Security Risks

  • Securing a Windows NT Web Server

  • Configuring the Web Server

  • Checklist

  • Online Resources

  • Printed Resources

Access control

Access control

  • Types of Access Control

  • Access Control Based on IP Address or Host Name

  • Access Control Based on User Name and Password

  • Other Types of Access Control

  • Access Control and CGI Scripts

  • Checklist

  • Online Resources

Encryption and certificate based access control

Encryption and Certificate-Based Access Control

  • SSL-Enabled Web Servers

  • Using Client Certificates for Access Control

  • Using Client Certificates for Web Server Access Control

  • Becoming Your Own Certifying Authority

  • Final Words

  • Checklist

  • Online Resources

  • Printed Resources

Safe cgi scripting

Safe CGI Scripting

  • Introduction to CGI Scripts and Server Modules

  • Common Failure Modes

  • Other Advice

  • Safe Scripting in Perl

  • CGI Wrappers

  • Checklist

  • Online Resources

  • Printed Resources

Remote authoring and administration

Remote Authoring and Administration

  • Degrees of Trust

  • Controlling Access to the Web Server Host

  • Remote Authoring Via FTP

  • Microsoft FrontPage

  • The HTTP PUT Protocol

  • An Upload Staging Area

  • Administering the Web Server Remotely

  • Access to the Server for Web Developers

  • Checklist

  • Online Resources

  • Printed Resources

Web servers and firewalls

Web Servers and Firewalls

  • What Is a Firewall?

  • Selecting a Firewall System

  • Configuring a Firewall

  • Automatic Proxy Configuration for Browsers

  • Examining Firewall Logs for Signs of Server Compromise

  • Checklist

  • Online Resources

  • Printed Resources

Bibliography references


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