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Re: Requesting comments on draft-cheney-safe-02.txt

2009-08-01 09:52:19


With your follow up here and with Peter, and reading more of your draft, I am not sure if you are, using the proverbial, "blowing against the wind."

If I understand the problem statement and your concerns, which is for the most part XHR (AJAX) and cross-domain WWW based communications, then I agree with you that there is a major problem here - a serious major problem over security and privacy concerns of users.

Lets start with the basic definition here:

  Web 1.0  - HTML only, No Javascripting.
  Web 2.0  - HTML only, Javascripting, Ajax
  Web 3.0  - Web 2.0 + Rich Graphics

The overall problem is that the industry is no longer concern with Web 1.0 compatibility. In fact, Javascript is being enforce at many web sites. They don't bother with allowing web 1.0 users (those who choose to turn off javascript in their browser).

The 2nd problem is that newer browsers are not even making it an user option to turn off javascript. For example, Google Chrome. This browser is a prime example of the problems you are concern about. Microsoft and others is following this lead.

The 3rd problem and alternative to the 2nd issue with users's turning off javascript and/or the browser doesn't support cross domain requests, are the client-installed pluggins are bypassing these restrictions, i.e., Flash and SilverLight. However, more recent versions are providing certificate secured solutions here for cross domain requests.

Overall, we are coming to a full circle in the UI - the user frontend is more client side driven with the browser and plug-ins. We have more persistent connections with these UIs.

I guess I am trying to see how your draft proposal using SMTP will help here and to solve what part of the above issue?

Take for example Peter's comment for an AJAX based suggestion box. I have an example here as a jQuery Plugin example:

This does a server side call per keystroke (although my plugin is a
lot smarter using a cache and knowing not to call the server again
when the user hits backspace).

Peter's point is that the draft proposal would conflict with the
dynamics here.  The SMTP model would be too inefficient for the
high-throughput requirements of WEB 2.0+.

Now I saw your follow-up saying in principle the DOM events would be prohibited in your proposal.

Well, all bets are off. That is why I think you may be blowing against the wind here. WEB 2.0+ direction is too strong. The market is certainly caring less for Web 1.0 only support and would rather (because it is less costly) just spit out a message:

    Sorry, Javascript is enabled to use this site.

than spend the resources in making sure the web site works in HTML only mode.

Anyway, it sounds to me that this is more about having a secured,
certificate based "SAFE" proxy that people can use AJAX or
FLASH/SilverLight with. Flash and SilverLight already offer a new model based on signed certificates and encryption.

Today, if a user is concern about reaching a site with hidden cross domain operations, they can use the browser's No Scripting options like newer IE and FireFoxes with the most excellent NoScript plugin.

At the end of the day, either you allow the site to run as it was designed if you want to be part of it, or just ignore it if you are concern about its cross domain behavior. i.e, FACEBOOK - either you want to be part of it or you don't because it relies are strong interactive behavior and TONS of cross domain communications.


Hector Santos

Cheney, Edward A SSG RES USAR USARC wrote:


I must have not communicated the problem and objective clearly.  The security 
problem only exists in the realm of the WWW.  The solution to this problem, as 
I propose it, only exists over SMTP.  The idea is to eventually abandon use of 
all client-side scripting on WWW in favor of an alternate secure solution that 
is only capable of existing over SMTP.

I am not actually proposing to mix or merge HTTP and SMTP transaction states.  
I have not thought of such an idea, and so such might be possible but I have 
given no thought to how that might work.  The closet to mixing protocols that I 
have ever thought of is to supply a URI in a markup language over email that 
may be either HTTP or SMTP as defined by that URI.


----- Original Message -----
From: Hector Santos <hsantos(_at_)santronics(_dot_)com>
Date: Friday, July 31, 2009 8:30
Subject: Re: Requesting comments on draft-cheney-safe-02.txt
To: "Cheney, Edward A SSG RES USAR USARC" 
Cc: "J.D. Falk" <jdfalk-lists(_at_)cybernothing(_dot_)org>, 

Do you have examples of these HTTP-based SMTP Client Side Script?

I presume its a HTTP POST request on port 25 (or some other known SMTP server port) with the posted request body content containing batched SMTP commands?

Off hand, I am not sure if the security concerns are SMTP related.

Hector Santos

Cheney, Edward A SSG RES USAR USARC wrote:

The idea is that security vulnerabilities on the internet occur
most significantly as a result of client-side scripting from documents transmitted across HTTP. By most significant I mean as measured by quantity and not severity. In addition to frequent immediate vulernabilities client-side scripting can also operate as an execution point for other additional vulernabilities not directly associated with client-side scripting. It is my opinion that the only way to solve this security problem is to either break HTTP or eliminate client-side scripting. I find there is no reason to break HTTP since it is working perfectly well and is not to blame for this problem. Client-side scripting cannot be removed unless an alternative convention is proposed.
It is absolutely imparitive that a solution exist as the quantity
of these security problems are continually increasing and there is no possible solution available from HTTP. If a solution is not proposed the security flaws of the system will become so significant that the commerical value of financial transactions and PII leaks will eventually result in abandoning the internet as an open platform in favor of more secure proprietary technologies.
As an alerternative method of allowing interactivity from client-
side scripting I wrote this document to migrate the concept of client-side scripting to the email architecture. The idea is that interactivity from client-side scripting can be replaced by transaction interactivity. Since mail servers are intermediate agents in the transmission, opposed to an end point like an HTTP server, they can make processing or scripting decisions upon data without that scripting having to exist on a client system. In other words, it is basically an inverted form of AJAX that does not execute on the client-side. The idea is easily possible using SMTP, but is not possible over HTTP since HTTP does not have intermediate agents between the client and server.

----- Original Message -----
From: "J.D. Falk" <
Date: Friday, July 31, 2009 1:44
Subject: Re: Requesting comments on draft-cheney-safe-02.txt
To: "Cheney, Edward A SSG RES USAR USARC" <
Cc: ietf-smtp(_at_)imc(_dot_)org

Cheney, Edward A SSG RES USAR USARC wrote:

I am requesting comments on the following this internet draft.  Any
questions, confusion, feedback, or changes would be helpful.
Interesting idea. What's the use case you have in mind? In other words: who will use it, and why?

J.D. Falk
Return Path Inc