Case Study: Web Security Architecture

STREWS published its Second Case Study on Web Security Architecture:


Case study 2 Report: Web Security Architecture [PDF]

The Open Web Platform is already transforming the Web again. More functionality on the Web increases the attacking surface. From a document driven Web, we are heading towards an action-driven Web. This also includes the availability of higher value services on the Web. Must Online banking remain dumb? Or can we secure the new applications using HTML5 and all the features and potential it brings?

In a first study of STREWS resulted in D.1.1, the Web-platform security guide. STREWS gave an overview of the assets of the Web an attacker could target and the state of the art of attack and defense. This first study had a very formal approach. This scientific rigour was then applied in a first case study on Web Real Time Communications (WebRTC) resulting in D1.2 Case Study: Security Assessment of WebRTC

This is now the second case study. STREWS has done a deep dive into the toolbox available to Web developers today. First by putting the security tools developed by the IETF and the W3C in context. From there, the study is suggesting new ways to address remaining black spots for Web Security and finally addresses new ways to counter the ever increasing number of cross-site scripting attacks.

The study gives an overview of current development in the Web security area in the IETF and the W3C with pointers for further reading. It then suggests new ways of addressing security issues by exploring cutting edge research findings to be taken into account. Secure sessions and javascript sandboxing can help a lot to make the Web a better place. The case study describes and evaluates those new tools.

Until today, XSS is a serious and widespread security issue. The study has chosen to consolidate the existing knowledge on Cross-Site Scripting. The objective is to systematically review existing works and literature in order to present a comprehensive overview of this research field. On this basis, the study is able to identify open problems and potential research topics that still need to be addressed.

D1.2 Case Study: Security Assessment of WebRTC

STREWS published its first Security Case Study on WebRTC: 


Case study 1 Report: WebRTC [PDF]

Erratum (until updated publication):

In Section 3.2 the WebRTC report notes that:

But unlike in Chrome, all permissions are only for the duration of the session, that is, until the browser closes. There is no way to revoke a permission, except by closing the browser.

Please note that those assertions were made while testing Firefox 28. In that version, the permissions are destroyed when navigating to the next page or closing the window, not just when closing the browser. In Firefox 33, the browser and especially its interface have evolved. We will update the text accordingly, once we have verified the current behavior


Built-in handling of Real Time Media (audio, video) on the web promises potentially significant change in telephony and in conference calling. The W3C WebRTC and IETF rtcweb working groups are developing the set of specifications that will allow browsers and web sites to support such calling and other functions. This is clearly a potentially security sensitive extension to the web, so STREWS has devoted effort on this topic as a case study to both attempt to improve the overall security of the result and to see if this approach holds promise as a way to improve interactions between researchers and standards makers and hence the overall security of the web. In this deliverable, we show some possibly new issues with WebRTC security discovered by researchers (from SAP) that the standards makers may not have considered. However, while this deliverable is, as a deliverable, final, the work itself goes on, partly involving discussions between the STREWS project and participants in the IETF and W3C so in technical terms this remains a work-in-progress.

STRINT workshop papers published

The first version of the agenda and the list of submitted papers of the STRINT workshop were published today. The agenda has seven sessions, three on Friday and the rest on Saturday:

  1. Threats,
  2. COMSEC (part 1),
  3. Policy,
  4. COMSEC (part 2),
  5. Metadata,
  6. Deployment, and
  7. Break-out sessions

There are 66 papers. Together they give an overview of current thinking about the security threats from pervasive monitoring and a first set of ideas towards developing countermeasures.

First draft of STRINT workshop report available

The first draft of the STRINT workshop report was published by the IETF as the Internet Draft draft-iab-strint-report-00. The same text is also available, with different formatting, from the STRINT Web site as draft-iab-strint-report.html.

[Overview photo taken from the left side of the room.]
Co-chair Stephen Farrell summarizes the points on the projection screen during the concluding plenary session.

D.1.1 Web-platform security guide

STREWS published the first of its reports:

Web-platform security guide: security assessment of the Web ecosystem [PDF]

Editors: Lieven Desmet and Frank Piessens

Here is the abstract:

This deliverable reports on the broad web security assessment of STREWS. As part of this report, we provide a clear and understandable overview of the Web ecosystem, and discuss the vulnerability landscape, as well as of the underlying attacker models. In addition, we provide a catalog of best prac- tices with existing countermeasures and mitigation techniques, to guide European industrial players to improve step-by-step the trustworthiness of their IT infrastructures. The report concludes with interesting challenges for securing the Web platform, opportunities for future research and trends in improving web security.