Programming Software

AWS: Lambda@Edge Now Available

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has made Lambda available at the Edge. By edge they mean the edge nodes of their CloudFront (CF) content distribution network (CDN). This mash-up of the two services allows for processing of final data all the way out to the point where it is almost reaching the client and allows for processing requests and the information passing through from the origin to the client / browser that made the request, but I am getting ahead of myself. For those of you who are not aware of what AWS, CF, or Lambda is, let’s start with what they are…


JavaScript Attack Can Break ASLR

BleepingComputer has reported that security researchers discovered a new attack that can be carried out in nearly any browser just using JavaScript. Even with the protections & sandboxing of today’s modern browsers (like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Opera, and Mozilla Firefox) it can break the address space layout randomization (ASLR) that most of today’s central processing units (CPUs) use to prevent malicious programs from figuring out where system processes are located in memory. The attack is called an ASLR⊕Cache, or AnC attack.


Everything is Duplexing

When you talk to someone on the phone typically someone makes a statement or asks a question then the other party responds. We take turns. You talk then I talk, then you talk then I talk – back and forth. That is also how many internet services and wireless communications work as well — they either take turns sending then receiving data (time division duplex or TDD) or will use separate frequencies for transmitting and receiving (frequency division duplex or FDD).


Release: Google Chrome 56

Google has released version 56 of its web browser, based on the open-source Chromium web browser. There were 51 security-related bug fixes and one security researcher nabbed over thirty-thousand dollars ($30,000) for reporting some particularly nasty cross-site scripting (XSS) issues in Blink, Chrome’s rendering engine.

Here are the other new and fixed features:

For Users

  • WebGL 2.0 Support
  • HTML5 by Default
    • For all users the browser will now attempt to load HTML5 content over Flash and will only fall-back to Flash when it is absolutely necessary
    • Around October of this year Flash will require the user to explicitly approve its use
  • Built-in FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) codec/support
  • The URL input bar now shows “Not Secure” next to the information icon for sites that are not encrypted and requesting username and passwords
  • Improved Bluetooth support via Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) and the Web Bluetooth API
  • Page reloading up to 28% faster

For Developers

  • Added “system-ui” font-family value that uses the operating system’s (OS’s) default font
  • Network
    • Support added for Referrer-Policy (CSP referrer) header
    • reflected-xss header deprecated
  • CSS
    • background-image-repeat: space value support added
      • Fills background with repeated tiles but no so much that it goes outside the container and will “space out” the tiles equally
    • position: sticky value support added
      • Works as “relative” until it reaches a maximum value, then works as “fixed”
    • offset-rotate motion path property now supported
    • Scroll anchoring support added, new overflow-anchor  with possible values of auto or none (to disable)
      • Locks the browser to a specific element so that content reflows do not force the browser away from the anchor element as images & other content load
      • touch-action: pinch-zoom property support added
  • SVG
    • SVGElement.currentView, SVGElement.useCurrentView, and SVGViewSpec interface deprecated
  • JavaScript
    • Chrome will no longer fetch the src (source) property of <script>  tags with non-script MIME types (suggests using the link preload element instead)
    • Removed deprecated MediaStreamTrack.getSources()
    • Shadow DOM: Will now dispatch synthetic events when target and relatedTarget event property values are identical/same
    • Showing/hiding the URL bar will no longer affect the page size or elements with vh units
      • overlay with “extra at the top” rather than pushing content around
    • KeyboardEvent.isComposing read-only value which returns true after compositionstart event has fired but before compositionend has
    • MediaStream Image Capture now allows for taking images/video from attached camera/imaging devices
    • Fixed attached mouse on Android devices incorrectly firing TouchEvent instead of MouseEvent
    • Large images now allowed to be sent as notification content via Notification API
    • OPUS audio codec support
    • PaymentRequest.canMakePayment() returns true or false if a payment can be accepted via Payment Request API
    • Remote Playback API support added
      • Android only, desktop support will be added in a later version – desktops currently report no available playback devices even when there is at least one available
      • Can control external devices’ (like Smart TVs, Chromecasts, Rokus, etc.) media playback
    • Shaddow DOM: slotchange events are no longer re-fired at slot’s assignedSlot (correct odd behavior and comply with specification change)
    • Streams API: WriteableStream is now supported
    • Added ImageBitmapRenderingContext
      • Provides low-level context for rendering an image on Canvas
    • Document-level TouchEvents are now passive by default
    • Web Bluetooth API supported
    • WebGL 2 supported
    • WebAudio API
      • Added ConstantSourceNode
      • ChannelSplitterNode channelCount and channelCountMode are constant
      • PannerNode.rolloffFactor clamps to nominal range
      • Removed deprecated Doppler API
  • Security
    • Added early support for TLS 1.3
    • Removed various ECDSA TLS cyphers
    • SHA-1 certificates are no longer trusted
    • Touch scroll events no longer allow popups to be opened
    • window.prompt() no longer brings background/inactive tabs to the foreground/active state
      • Background tabs will just not display a prompt
  • DOM
    • Rare case-insensitive matches for <input> group name are no longer done
    • Non-white-space Unicode control characters are now rendered in compliance with the specification
    • Delay running rendering pipeline (including requestAnimationFrame requests) inside iframes until all stylesheets have loaded
    • Allow any element below the body to be defined as the root scroller (which allows hiding URL bar, generate overscroll glow, etc.) via document.rootScroller

Chrome now reloads pages 28% faster


Release: Firefox 51

Mozilla has released version 51 of the open-source Firefox web browser. What can you expect from this release?

For Users

  • Save password prompt allows you to view the password before it is saved
  • Zoom button added to the URL bar that displays the zoom level other than 100% – pressing the button returns to default zoom
  • Video performance for those that cannot make use of hardware GPU acceleration has been improved
  • Passwords are now saved from forms that do not emit a “submit” event
  • Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) codec is now built-in
  • WebGL 2 is now supported – provides more advanced 3D images and animations
  • Subtle warning (crossed lock icon) displayed on sites that are not using a secure certificate (SSL/HTTPS) and asking for login username and password
  • Georgian (ka) and Kabyle (kab) locales added and Belarusian (be) locale removed
  • Improved E10s (multi-process) function with better tab switching
  • More reliable browser sync
  • 25 security issues fixed – includes many potential memory issues, some API issues, privilege escalation or information reveals, and URL spoofing

For Developers

  • HTML

    • The <hr>  tag can now be used within <menu>  tags/elements
    • selectionStart and selectionEnd attributes/properties now return correct position when there is no selection within <input>  and <textarea>  elements
  • CSS

    • :indeterminate pseudo-element selector now supported for <input type=”radio”>
    • :placeholder-shown pseudo-element selector now supported for <input type=”text”>
    • :placeholder pseudo-element selector now unprefixed
    • :valid pseudo-class selector fixed to select valid <form>  elements
    • unicode-bidi: plaintext  now works with vertical writing mode
    • clip-path: fill-box  and clip-path: stroke-box  now properly supported
    • Flexible Box Model’s (flexbox) line height is now clamped in single-line auto-height flex container with max-height (matching change to the specification)
  • JavaScript

    • Symbol.toStringTag, TypedArray.prototype.toString() , and TypedArray.prototype.toLocaleString() implemented
    • DateTimeFormat.prototype.formatToParts() now works
    • const and let are now fully compliant with the specification
    • const used within for … of now gets a new binding on each iteration and no longer throws a SyntaxError
    • Using for each … in now produced a deprecation warning
    • Generator functions can no longer be a child of a label and you can no longer use “let” as a label (for obvious syntax reasons)
    • Legacy generator functions now throw an error when used in method definitions (must use asterisk)
    • next()  iterator method now throws a TypeError when it does not return an object
    • Child-indexed pseudo-class selectors will match when they do not have a parent
  • Developer Tools

    • The Network Monitor now has a “blocked” state which shows when a connection is waiting to execute because the simultaneous connections limit has been reached
  • WebGL

    • WebGL 2 now enabled by default
    • The WEBGL_compressed_texture_es3 extension (implemented in Firefox 46) has been renamed to WEBGL_compressed_texture_etc and is no longer included by default in WebGL 2 contexts
    • The EXT_disjoint_timer_query extension has been updated to use WebGLQuery objects instead of WebGLTimerQuery objects
    • The OES_vertex_array_object extension now uses the WebGL 2 WebGLVertexArrayObject object instead of its own WebGLVertexArrayObjectOES object
    • You can now use ImageBitmap objects as a sources for texture images in methods like WebGLRenderingContext.texImage2D(), WebGLRenderingContext.texSubImage2D(), WebGL2RenderingContext.texImage3D(), or WebGL2RenderingContext.texSubImage3D()
  • IndexedDB v2

    • IndexedDB version 2 is now enabled
      • Supports for the new IDBObjectStore.getKey() method has been added
      • Supports for IDBCursor.continuePrimaryKey() method has been added
      • Binary keys are now supported
  • Canvas

    • The non-standard CanvasRenderingContext2D.mozFillRule() method has been removed; the fill rule can be defined using a parameter of the standard CanvasRenderingContext2D.fill() method
    • The CanvasRenderingContext2D.imageSmoothingEnabled has been unprefixed
  • SVG

    • tabindex attribute Added
    • href attribute added, which renders xlink:href obsolete
    • You can now use custom data attributes on SVG elements through the SVGElement.dataset property and the data-* set of SVG attributes
    • CSS Animations used in an SVG image which is presented in an <img> element now work again; this was an old regression
  • Web Workers

    • WorkerGlobalScope.onclose obsolete event and the close event of Worker objects have been removed
  • Networking

    • image/*, video/*, audio/* or text/csv MIME types served to <script> elements, Worker.importScripts(), Worker(), or SharedWorker() are blocked and no longer allowed
  • XHR

    • XMLHttpRequest.responseXML no longer returns a partial document when there is a parse error. Instead, it now returns null (as the specification dictates)
    • To match the latest specification an XMLHttpRequest without an Accept header set with setRequestHeader() is now sent with such a header, with its value set to */*
    • now correctly nulls out username and password values when omitted according to the specification
  • WebRTC

    • The RTCPeerConnection.removeStream() method has been removed. It was deprecated back in Firefox 22, and has been throwing a NotSupportedError for a long time. You need to use RTCPeerConnection.removeTrack() instead, for each track on the stream.
    • WebRTC now supports the VP9 codec by default
    • The method HTMLMediaElement.captureStream(), which returns a MediaStream containing the content of the specified <video> or <audio>. It’s worth noting that this is prefixed still as mozCaptureStream(), and that it doesn’t yet exactly match the spec.
  • Audio/Video

    • Added FLAC support (FLAC codec) in both FLAC and Ogg containers. Supported FLAC MIME types are: audio/flac and audio/x-flac. For FLAC in Ogg, supported MIME types are: audio/ogg; codecs=flac, and video/ogg; codecs=flac
    • Added support for FLAC in MP4 (both with and without MSE)
    • Throttling in background tabs of timers created by Window.setInterval() and Window.setTimeout() was changed in Firefox 50 to no longer occur if a Web Audio API AudioContext is actively playing sound. However, this didn’t resolve all scenarios in which timing-sensitive audio playback (such as music players generating individual notes using timers) could fail to work properly. For that reason, Firefox 51 no longer throttles background tabs which have an AudioContext, even if it’s not currently playing sound.
  • DOM (Document Object Model)

    • The deprecated DOMImplementation.hasFeature() now returns true for all arguments
    • onerror / error event is now supported for <img> elements and HTMLImageElement objects
    • Animation.effect can now be set rather than being a read-only property
    • Permissions.revoke()  is now behind a browser setting/preference (dom.permissions.revoke.enable) and is disabled by default
    • property and StorageManager.estimate() are now implimented/enabled. Storage unit persistence features are not yet implemented
    • BatteryManager.chargingTime and BatteryManager.dischargingTime round to the nearest 15 minutes
  • Events

    • onanimationstart, onanimationiteration, and onanimationstart event handlers are now supported in addition to supporting the corresponding events using addEventListener()
    • ontransitionend event handler supported


Fiber Picks Up Speed

Our demand for data continues to grow and so to does the amount of data fiber optic networks can transmit. reports on research completed by NTT Access Network Service Systems Laboratories in Japan where they were able to fit 12 individual cores inside a standard diameter for fiber optics. Since the amount of data we can pack into current single-core networks is approaching maximum – meaning more fiber optic lines need to be laid to transmit the same amount of information – research into optical wires that contain multiple single cores is picking up. While this is not yet ready to be deployed out in the field it does bring such upgrades a step closer by producing a wire which experiences less distortion than similar multi-core wires. They are now looking to continue scaling up as well as find solutions to make multi-core fibers require less complex signal processing.


Browsers’ Interfaces Are Insecure

As browsers continue to add new features, many of them need to notify or request confirmation from the user. These notifications and dialogs are showing outside the browser interface and appear inside or overtop of the content window (considered to be untrusted since any content can be displayed by developers). This means that content developers can mimic these notifications easier and trick (or bait/phish) users into clicking or submitting information to dialogs that are not part of the browser.

A family member was recently subject to something very similar  last week. The browser was being forced into fullscreen mode. Popups were repeatedly sent to prevent being able to do anything else with the browser. Whenever I hit F11 to exit fullscreen mode, it immediately went back into fullscreen mode. At the same time the browser’s interface (address bar, tabs, bookmarks, etc.) could have been faked within that full screen browser tab. Since many browsers today use the same or similar technology to render their interfaces it can be easily mimicked using HTML & CSS. Luckily I was able to prevent the popups and close the browser window using Ctrl + W. An simple [may not be perfect] fix for this is to require requesting the user approve going to fullscreen in cases other than for the video tag – similar to how the user’s location must be requested.

These encroachments have security researchers worried because it means that none of the browser window can be trusted and phishing schemes / scams will likely become increasingly successful when the user believes they are interacting with the browser when they are really interacting with the content of a potentially malicious website.


Release: WordPress 4.7.1

WordPress, the open-source blogging and CMS platform, has released version 4.7.1, a security update to version 4.7.

The update fixes eight (8) major security issues as well as sixty-two (62) other various bugs found in 4.7.

  1. Remote code execution (RCE) in PHPMailer – No specific issue appears to affect WordPress or any of the major plugins we investigated but, out of an abundance of caution, we updated PHPMailer in this release.
  2. The REST API exposed user data for all users who had authored a post of a public post type. WordPress 4.7.1 limits this to only post types which have specified that they should be shown within the REST API.
  3. Cross-site scripting (XSS) via the plugin name or version header on update-core.php.
  4. Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) bypass via uploading a Flash file.
  5. Cross-site scripting (XSS) via theme name fallback.
  6. Post via email checks if default settings aren’t changed.
    A cross-site request forgery (CSRF) was discovered in the accessibility mode of widget editing.
  7. Weak cryptographic security for multisite activation key.

It is strongly encouraged that you update your version of WordPress as soon as possible to avoid possible exploitations. As always, I also encourage everyone to read through the changelog to see what was fixed or what could be a potential issue in the future.

WordPress 4.7.1 Security and Maintenance Release


Chrome Changes: Encryption Notification

Google Chrome version 56 (based on the open-source Chromium web browser) is scheduled to be released at the end of the month. One of the major user-level changes is how sites without encryption will appear. Until now there has just been a lowercase letter “i” with a circle around it — this was typically an indicator to get more information about the site. In the upcoming version this symbol will be accompanied by a “not secure” message to indicate that the site is not secure:

The difference between Chrome 53 and Chrome 56 when a non-encrypted site is visited: The circled lowercase "i" will be accompanied by "Not secure"


Google has also indicated that future versions of Chrome will continue to make sites that are not encrypted appear with a more prominent warning symbol:

In future versions of Chrome the "Not secure" indicator will be red, have a triangle exclamation mark warning icon, and be much bolder.


Imminent: Non-HTTPS Sites Labeled “Not Secure” by Chrome

Google warned about this back in September of 2016.


Cloudflare Trips Over Leap Second

The domain name service (DNS) and security proxy provider Cloudflare appears to have tripped over the leap second at the end of 2016. The Go programming language that is uses to build it’s DNS server apparently returned a negative number for the date in some cases which caused the random number generator to throw errors. The fix? A single line of code where less than or equal to zero (<=0) is used instead of simply equal to zero (==0).