tl;dr Abstract To improve performance, particularly for mobile users, many websites have started caching app logic on client devices via HTML5 local storage. Unfortunately, this can make common injection vulnerabilities even more dangerous, as malicious code can invisibly persist in the cache. Real-world examples of this problem have now been discovered in third-party “widgets” embedded across many websites, creating security risks for the companies using such services – even if their sites are otherwise protected against attacks. Striking a balance between security and performance can be difficult, but certain precautions may help prevent an attacker from exploiting local storage caches. Background Throughout the history of web development, people have found ways to use and abuse various technologies beyond their intended[…]

Security researcher Mario Heiderich (also creator of the HTML5 Security Cheatsheet and lead developer for PHPIDS) has been posting some interesting cross-site scripting challenges lately that highlight aspects of security on the client side. The most recent, called XSSMe², involved a page with a reflected XSS vulnerability that allowed one to insert arbitrary HTML – no filters applied by the server. The goal? Retrieve a particular bit of data, originally stored in document.cookie, without any user interaction. I say “originally,” because the page included JavaScript which attempted to lock down access to the data by removing it from document.cookie and hiding it unless retrieved by a user click. The code used evolved as bypasses were found, with several tricks employed along[…]

I often talk about cross-site scripting (XSS), and that’s partly because I think it’s a pretty interesting type of vulnerability that many developers tend to overlook. It can be quite dangerous, but can also be quite misunderstood. For one thing, the name can be misleading: exploiting XSS does not always involve scripting, and the proliferation of web technologies has taken XSS issues beyond the browser. One example of script-less cross-site scripting affected some high-profile MySpace users in 2007. Attackers were able to inject HTML into celebrity MySpace pages, but the service filtered out typical <script> payloads. Seemingly innocent <a> links were allowed, though, and adding a bit of CSS allowed one to create an invisible link that covered the entire[…]

If you’re new to the world of testing web application security, you may not be aware of the many great Firefox add-ons available that greatly help such endeavors. While others have compiled similar lists in the past, I thought this week would be a good time for me to share a few of the favorite tools I use in my own web app work. HttpFox: I’ve blogged about this one in the past; it lists for you every HTTP request made during a given browser session, with details on headers, cookies, parameters, responses, and more. Very handy to monitor traffic when you’re browsing around an app. HackBar: Another one I’ve mentioned before, the HackBar is a swiss-army knife that gives[…]

Ever wonder about how we came to have the technologies and programming languages used today? Yahoo’s senior JavaScript architect Douglas Crockford gave a presentation in early 2010 that traces the developments which brought us the beloved and hated language that powers client-side web behaviors. The video is nearly two hours and only the first in a series on JavaScript, but Crockford relates many interesting stories about the history of computing and notes patterns in how technology tends to develop. Check it out if you want to learn more about the background of that quirky yet powerful bit of tech we call JavaScript: Crockford on JavaScript: The Early Years

Recently I had the chance to test out a clever little device called the hiddn Crypto Adapter. Made by Norway-based High Density Devices, the adapter looks somewhat like a miniature desk calculator with a USB port instead of a display, but its simple appearance belies some powerful functionality: transparent, real-time encryption of USB drives with two-factor authentication. The adapter essentially acts as a proxy between your computer and a USB drive, meaning it needs no software, has no operating system requirement, and works with everything from a flash memory stick to an external hard drive. All communication with the USB device is encrypted on the fly using 256-bit AES via a certified FIPS 140-2 Level 3 crypto module, but the[…]