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   Re: [xml-dev] XForms - Secure or Insecure?

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1. That a malicious XForms-containing document can upload files from a
user's computer without their knowledge

(thinking outside the box here)
It seems to me that this *could* involve digital rights - that is, the
issue can be approached from the file perspective rather than the XForms
perspective.  Initiatives such as the OASIS Rights Language TC [1] and
the W3C Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL[2]) come to mind. However,
this would require access control policies for the XForms-containing
document (thinking of it almost as a "user") - which may be out of scope
of the issue.

Kind Regards,
Joe Chiusano
Booz | Allen | Hamilton

[1] http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/rights/
[2] http://www.w3.org/TR/odrl/

AndrewWatt2000@aol.com wrote:
> [I posted this primarily to XForms lists but if anyone among those on XML-Dev
> who is interested in XForms has thought about this issue, any informed
> feedback would be welcome. Thanks. ]
> I thought it would be useful ... hopefully in the sense of eliciting
> well-founded reassurance .. to raise a couple of security questions that I
> have regarding XForms.
> There are two potential sources of security concern:
> 1. That a malicious XForms-containing document can upload files from a user's
> computer without their knowledge
> 2. A malicious XForms-containing document could download a virus or other
> nasty to the user's computer.
> Let me explain how these undesirable situations might potentially arise.
> The general background is that an XForms-containing document may have more
> than one XForms model. The security concerns that I am raising could be
> hidden in one XForms model while another XForms model produces the
> functionality that the user wants or needs.
> 1. File Upload - In principle it seems possible as the Candidate
> Recommendation is drafted that a file could be uploaded from the user's
> computer in response to any arbitrary event. For example the file could be
> uploaded as soon as the XForms completes initialization. One scenario is that
> the content of the file in question is loaded into an <xforms:instance> and
> is later "submitted" to an arbitrary URL chosen by the author of the
> malicious code. If the XForms author sets the replace attributes on <
> xforms:submission> to a value of "none", the user may have no knowledge that
> the file has been "stolen" from their computer.
> 2. Virus Implantation - In principle a hidden XForms model could obtain its
> instance data from an arbitrary URL, with no indication that malicious code
> has been downloaded into the instance data, using the src attribute on <
> xforms:instance>. As with scenario 1, an arbitrary event could be used to
> "submit" i.e. save the malicious code to the user's computer using a file
> URL.
> Given that an XForms-containing document could contain more than two XForms
> models, then a combined upload/virus implantation attack would be
> theoretically possible.
> I assume that the intent of the WG is that XForms implementers provide some
> form (pun intended) of sandbox to prevent such malicious practices. However,
> the current CR seems to rely largely on implementers' common sense ... a
> dangerous commodity where security is concerned ... rather than provide a
> detailed consideration of the risks (perhaps only simply to dismiss them?)
> and solution for these potential security concerns.
> I would welcome comments on whether the scenarios which I describe are
> realistic and, assuming that, on what the most appropriate way(s) forward are
> to ensure that XForms-containing documents cannot be used for malicious
> purposes.
> If XForms is to be accepted as an appropriate vehicle for handling valuable
> and sensitive business data, it is critical that there is well-founded
> confidence in the security provided by XForms implementations.
> Andrew Watt
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tel;work:(703) 902-6923
org:Booz | Allen | Hamilton;IT Digital Strategies Team
adr:;;8283 Greensboro Drive;McLean;VA;22012;
title:Senior Consultant
fn:Joseph M. Chiusano


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