Re: [secdir] review of draft-nottingham-site-meta-04

Sandra Murphy <> Thu, 03 December 2009 06:28 UTC

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Date: Thu, 3 Dec 2009 01:27:41 -0500 (Eastern Standard Time)
From: Sandra Murphy <>
To: Mark Nottingham <>
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Subject: Re: [secdir] review of draft-nottingham-site-meta-04
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On Thu, 3 Dec 2009, Mark Nottingham wrote:

> Hi Sandra,
> Responses inline.
> On 02/12/2009, at 12:41 PM, Sandra Murphy wrote:
>>   Note that this specification defines neither how to determine the
>>   authority to use for a particular context, nor the scope of the
>>   metadata discovered by dereferencing the well-known URI; both should
>>   be defined by the application itself.
>> I'm not sure what "authority to use for a particular context", but I presume that it means that each application should consider the authorization model of who should have the authority to use the well-known URI at each host/site.  This sounds lke a general security concern, but it is not verbatim reflected in the security considerations section (the scope part is mentioned, not the "authority to use".)  Note: given that I say below that it would be impossible to be complete in the security concerns that might arise in any particular application, this is NOT a recommendation that the text should change.
> Not quite. It's basically saying that, given a particular application context using arbitrary network resources, it's up to you to determine what the appropriate URI authority (e.g., '' in '') should be.

Ooops, yes, sorry.  I forgot when reading that that there is a special 
meaning for "authority" in this context.

>> The second possibility mentioned is DNS rebinding:
>>   Because most URI schemes rely on DNS to resolve names, they are
>>   vulnerable to "DNS rebinding" attacks, whereby a request can be
>>   directed to a server under the control of an attacker.
>> My understanding is that DNS rebinding allows the attacker to rebind a name it controls to a local address.  So it is the directing to a server that is under the control of the attacker, not the server itself.  I'm not sure that is what the text here is saying.  DNS rebinding here would be a concern if the well-known URI provided some access that would be useful to an attacker.  That would be a subject for the application to consider, so I'm not saying that it needs to be mentioned here.
>> Recommendations for protection against DNS rebinding have to do with the browser or the enterprise, not the application, so I don't think they need to be mentioned here.
> I agree; DNS rebinding was brought up as a concern during review, but AIUI it's more of a concern for applications using well-known locations, if they choose to try to address that problem. It may be that they just pass a warning upstream to their implementers/users.
>> I could see that there might be other ways that the existence of a well-known URI could be a concern, depending on how the application used that file (DDOS if the use caused transmission, exposure if the use caused access to sensitive data, whatever).  But I don't think that this document could possibly be complete in discussing all the security concerns these unknown applications with their unknown uses of the URI could have.
>> In general, I think this section could be replaced with just guidelines about what the specification of a new well-known URI should discuss or consider.  Consider the authorization model, consider corruption, exposure, etc. of the URI file, consider vulnerability to DNS rebinding attacks, etc.
> I think that's a good suggestion.
>> IANA considerations section
>> The draft mentions several things that a specification of a new well-known URI should discuss or include. Is the IANA resonsible for ensuring that a specification for a new well-known URI meets the stipulations made here? Or maybe the Designated Expert does that?
> The designated expert.
> Cheers and thanks for the review,
> --
> Mark Nottingham