Archive for October, 2010

NoScript 2.0.4 has been released yesterday, with some bug fixes and one main addition: strict X-Content-Type-Options: nosniff enforcement.

NoScript, for a long time, had already being enforcing content type checks on cross-site Javascript and CSS includes, and recent Firefox versions introduced similar built-in mitigations, albeit limited to stylesheets, in order to mitigate CSS-based data theft.

Nevertheless, X-Content-Type-Options offers a nice opportunity to further hardening, by allowing web sites to opt-in for the strictest checks, on more file types and also same-domain, in a theoretically compatible way.

A side effect of this addition is that Firefox 4 + NoScript now scores 14/16 on Browserscope’s Security Test, in “Allow Scripts Globally” mode (i.e., without blocking any JavaScript or active content)!
Browserscope Security Test
For those who don’t know it, Browserscope is a project which aims at profiling and comparing browser capabilities, with a special eye for security features.

By comparison, only Google Chrome boasts a higher score of 15/16, because it supports both the HTTP Origin Header and the HTML 5 Sandbox Attribute, which are not implemented yet by Firefox nor by NoScript. For the curious, “vanilla” Firefox 4 nightlies stop at 11/15 (even if you’re going to read 12/15 because of a XSS test bug), Firefox 3.6.12 + NoScript is at 13/15, while disabling NoScript makes it fall down to 9/16 (reported as 10/16 because of the aforementioned bug).

However, a fair comparison would need to cover also Content Security Policies, a very powerful and flexible security technology developed by Mozilla (test should be added soon, it seems) and countermeasures for cross-zone CSRF attacks (e.g. against routers), which are currently provided by NoScript and, partially, by Opera (Mozilla is working on something, too)*. If and when these features get tested, Firefox 4 + NoScript will lead at 16/18, followed by Chrome at 15/18.

That said, I’d really love to see Origin and Sandbox implemented natively by Firefox, for a perfect 18/18. Which is, I guess, the real raison d’être of Browserscope: getting good stuff implemented everywhere by the power of childish envy ;)

* I won’t advocate including tests for other non-blocking security features provided by NoScript, such as ClearClick anti-Clickjacking, because they’re not suitable for web-based automation.

Update 2010-11-13

Firefox 4 + NoScript scores 15/17 now!

I know, it’s getting ridiculous, so here’s a news report about the new unpatched vulnerabilities being exploited in the wild, and here’s my old commentary about the old ones, which is still valid as it will always be, I’m afraid, until Adobe’s plugins finally fade away…

The Problem

You’ve probably read in the news about a Firefox extension called “Firesheep”. It has been developed by Eric Butler and recently presented at ToorCon, pretty much to demonstrate a rather obvious thing: if a website which handles passwords or other sensitive bits doesn’t enforce HTTPS encryption all over its domain, rather than just on login pages like many do (including Facebook and other popular social networks), your data can be easily sniffed and reused by malicious third parties. Furthermore, under specific circumstances (e.g. when you use a TOR), a MITM attacks can silently redirect you to a fake HTTP version of the site, and there’s not much a web site can do about this without client’s help, other than consistently using HTTPS-only cookies.

HSTS To The Rescue!

What you may or may not know is that a technology called HSTS (HTTP Strict Transport Security) has been designed, mainly after Paypal’s input, in order to help websites make HTTPS setup more reliable and safe against hijacking attacks. HSTS has been implemented by NoScript and by the Chrome web browser more than one year ago, and it’s currently shipping also in Firefox 4 betas and development builds.

HSTS is a passive security enhancer, though, because it needs websites to opt-in by sending a Strict-Transport-Security HTTP header, which asks the browser to automatically “upgrade” every subsequent request for the same site to secure connections (HTTPS), no matter if it had been initiated as plain HTTP.

Being Proactive

Since HSTS is really simple and easy to understand, it would be wonderful if every web site supporting HTTPS deployed HSTS too. Regrettably we’re not there yet: www.paypal.com (quite obviously) and secure.informaction.com are among the very few which already do, but for instance addons.mozilla.org currently doesn’t, nor does Google itself.

Fortunately NoScript, for more than two years now, has also allowed us to manually select the web sites which we want to browse via HTTPS only, by adding them in the NoScript Options|Advanced|HTTPS panel. Of course not all the web sites like to have HTTPS pushed down their throats, so you should pick only those already supporting HTTPS, and still may expect a tiny few of them to misbehave. However your online banking, your webmail and the aforementioned addons.mozilla.org are probably great candidates to be added in NoScript’s “force HTTPS” list right now.

Bad Behavior has blocked 3997 access attempts in the last 7 days.