[langsec-discuss] XML DIGSIG langsec problems

Nils Dagsson Moskopp nils at dieweltistgarnichtso.net
Sat Aug 29 02:51:23 UTC 2015

Surely you must be joking, I thought. And then I skimmed this … :

Is there a LANGSEC shorthand for the phenomenon that programmers who
find it difficult to solve a (solvable) problem in a limited language
turn the chomsky hierarchy control up to eleven instead of thinking?

I am asking because I have seen it many times … all the developers who
could not write proper CSS if their life depended on it, who are using
JavaScript for layout.

Dan Kaminsky <dan at doxpara.com> writes:

> Once upon a time you could provide XSL style sheets for canonicalization.
> And then they added JS to XSL.
> To validate my signature, run my code.
> Yup
> On Tuesday, August 25, 2015, <travis+ml-langsec at subspacefield.org> wrote:
>> http://www.contextis.com/documents/33/Exploiting_XML_Digital_Signature_Implementations-HITBKL20131.pdf
>>         By signing XML content, rather than the raw bytes of an XML
>>         document, the W3C were faced with a problem, specifically the
>>         possibility that intermediate XML processors might modify the
>>         document's physical structure without changing the meaning.
>> At this point you are permitted to start chuckling, privately.
>>         An obvious example is text encodings. As long as the content
>>         is the same there is no reason why an XML file stored as UTF-8
>>         should not have the same signature value as one stored as
>>         UTF-16. There are other changes which could occur which don't
>>         affect the meaning of the XML but would affect its physical
>>         representation, such as the order of attributes, as the XML
>>         specification does not mandate how a processor should
>>         serialize content.
>> Eyebrows raised.
>>         With this problem in mind the W3C devised the canonical XML
>>         specification which defines a series of processing rules which
>>         can be applied to parsed XML content to create a known
>>         canonical binary representation. For example, it specifies the
>>         ordering of attributes, and mandates the use of UTF-8 as the
>>         only text encoding scheme.
>> Summary: We won't specify how you serialize it, only how you serialize
>> it to validate the signature.  As a result, you have to parse the
>> untrusted message and expose parsing and canonicalization to the
>> anonymous attack surface before determining the signature is invalid,
>> assuming you even managed to check that properly:
>> https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-xmlsec/2009Nov/att-0019/Camera-Ready.pdf
>> http://www.slideshare.net/44Con/the-forgers-artjamesforshaw44con2k13
>> https://www.owasp.org/images/5/5a/07A_Breaking_XML_Signature_and_Encryption_-_Juraj_Somorovsky.pdf
>> https://www.usenix.org/system/files/conference/usenixsecurity12/sec12-final91.pdf
>> Countermeasures:
>> http://arxiv.org/pdf/1401.7483.pdf
>> Proposed that the anonymous attack surface be required to do minimum
>> processing on untrusted input before authentication/authorization.
>> That means no parsing, nothing more complicated than slicing off a
>> signature and validating it.  Proposed that this not just encourages
>> security in the non-authenticated case, it also minimizes the work to
>> validate the security of the anonymous attack surface.
>> Open question: how much flexibility in cipher negotiation or choices
>> and serialization can be done safely during this stage.  Compare
>> OpenSSL.  Considered that flexibilty (which requires more complex
>> pre-auth logic) comes with risk, but if chosen carefully can be
>> minimized.
>> --
>> http://www.subspacefield.org/~travis/ | if spammer then
>> john at subspacefield.org <javascript:;>
>> "Computer crime, the glamor crime of the 1970s, will become in the
>> 1980s one of the greatest sources of preventable business loss."
>> John M. Carroll, "Computer Security", first edition cover flap, 1977
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Nils Dagsson Moskopp // erlehmann
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