Web Security

Vol. 10 No. 11 – November 2012

Web Security

Browser Security Case Study: Appearances Can Be Deceiving

A discussion with Jeremiah Grossman, Ben Livshits, Rebecca Bace, and George Neville-Neil

It seems every day we learn of some new security breach. It's all there for the taking on the Internetmore and more sensitive data every second. As for privacy, we Facebook, we Google, we bank online, we shop online, we invest online& we put it all out there. And just how well protected is all that personally identifiable information? Not very. The browser is our most important connection to the Web, and our first line of defense. But have the browser vendors kept up their end of the bargain in protecting users? They claim to have done so in various ways, but many of those claims are thin. From SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to the Do Not Track initiative to browser add-ons to HTML5, attempts to beef up security and privacy safeguards have fallen well short.

by Jeremiah Grossman, Ben Livshits, Rebecca Bace, George Neville-Neil

Condos and Clouds

Constraints in an environment empower the services.

Living in a condominium (commonly known as a condo) has its constraints and its services. By defining the lifestyle and limits on usage patterns, it is possible to pack many homes close together and to provide the residents with many conveniences. Condo living can offer a great value to those interested and willing to live within its constraints and enjoy the sharing of common services. Similarly, in cloud computing, applications run on a shared infrastructure and can gain many benefits of flexibility and cost savings. To get the most out of this arrangement, a clear model is needed for the usage pattern and constraints to be imposed in order to empower sharing and concierge services. It is the clarity of the usage pattern that can empower new PaaS (Platform as a Service) offerings supporting the application pattern and providing services, easing the development and operations of applications complying with that pattern. Just as there are many different ways of using buildings, there are many styles of application patterns. This article looks at a typical pattern of implementing a SaaS (Software as a Service) application and shows how, by constraining the application to this pattern, it is possible to provide many concierge services that ease the development of a cloud-based application.

by Pat Helland

The Web Won't Be Safe or Secure until We Break It

Unless you've taken very particular precautions, assume every Web site you visit knows exactly who you are.

The Internet was designed to deliver information, but few people envisioned the vast amounts of information that would be involved or the personal nature of that information. Similarly, few could have foreseen the potential flaws in the design of the Internet - more specifically, Web browsers - that would expose this personal information, compromising the data of individuals and companies. If people knew just how much of their personal information they unwittingly make available to each and every Web site they visiteven sites theyve never been to beforethey would be disturbed. If they give that Web site just one click of the mouse, out goes even more personally identifiable data, including full name and address, hometown, school, marital status, list of friends, photos, other Web sites they are logged in to, and in some cases, their browsers auto-complete data and history of other sites they have visited.

by Jeremiah Grossman

Splinternet Behind the Great Firewall of China

Once China opened its door to the world, it could not close it again.

What if you could not access YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia? How would you feel if Google informed you that your connection had been reset during a search? What if Gmail was only periodically available, and Google Docs, which was used to compose this article, was completely unreachable? What a mess!

by Daniel Anderson