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  • Feb 13 2013

    The vulnerability of HTML5 to threats

    HTML5’s meteoric rise along with early acceptance by the industry has made it into a subject of adulation, reproach and incessant analysis. And even till now, it isn’t out of its maze of troubles.

    ‘Forrester’– the renowned global research and advisory firm has insisted upon upping the speed of HTML5 implementation to give the mobile customers an enhanced experience. But with it, the developers have to be very careful about the possibility of new threats that the code might bring into their firm’s Internet infrastructure.

    According to analysts at Forrester, as more and more customers are going for HTML5 based browsers for desktops as well as the developers’ increasing hold over the technologies, it hasn’t just remained a must but has become an indispensable aspect for handheld devices for an enhanced surfing experience on all the touch points.

    The research firm has also pointed out that big brands like Best Buy, Apple and Seasons Hotels are benefitting from a superior HTML5 to augment their clients’ web experience. They say it actually doesn’t need a complete pick-and-remove of the prevailing code, since HTML5 is nothing but an extension of the current W3C HTML standards. The very premise of employing HTML5 or CSS3 is that it doesn’t need any discarding of the present codes, rather e-businesses could easily improve the experience of the clients by gradually making use of the latest elements of HTML5. In a way, HTML5 only increases the no. of instruments in the designer’s kit, keeping the essentials of creating a website, same.

    Security Threats

    However, coming of HTML5 has brought along with it a number of security troubles , as hackers too have got their (attacking) kits expanded, with loads of newer possibilities.

    The reason behind it is that many components in it are not as yet properly coded. It can even bring up new vectors for assaulting. And by making use of them hackers can launch covert attacks that are are difficult to find.

    To explain it at length, more often than not-a fully developed HTML5 website provides a good amount of functionality that makes it loosely equivalent to a smaller operating system, that runs in the browser. HTML5 makes it possible to build websites that can store little databases. Components such as enhanced XMLHttpRequest (XHR), local storage, web SQL and the Document Object Model (DOM) which renders superior features achievable- makes a user’s assault surface vulnerable, in case they aren’t coded correctly.

    The threats can be broadly classified under these three categories-

    • Tag Proneness and XHR

    Chiefly, Tag proneness and XHR originate from improvements to XHR in HTML5 that modifies HTTP request as well as response to permit cross domain calls by pursuing the CORS or the Cross Origin Resource Sharing policy. And this modification substantially improves the effectiveness of CSRF or Cross Site Request Forgery assault, allowing more hushed CSRF assaults which could launch CSRF on the stream of (raw) data from the browser, that can’t be just launched along with the request, but can be sent with the response.

    So, in a way this is a Cross Site response extraction.

    Besides this, XSS or Cross Site Scripting assaults that make use of the surplus attributes, new tags as well as events that are presented by HTML5 are also there.

    •  Prone Features

    Some more proneness originates from the thick client base ability of HTML5. The supporting of session storage and local storage by HTML5’s Application Programing Interface enables it for assaulters to employ XSS to make the blind listing of storage space variables and finally get admittance to the store. Likewise, in case a file system is made utilizing the SQL Lite to have a local database, the assaulters could conceivably have SQL injection assault unleashed on that very database by taking advantage of the blind WebSQL listing.

    Therefore, SQL injection on the server isn’t over yet and SQL injection on the client side utilizing XSS has begun.

    • Proneness around Document Object Model (DOM)

    Okay, with HTML5 it’s now feasible for the developers to make HTML5 based apps which run on one Document Object Model without refreshing. And that is great, but at the same time it also means Document Object Model based XSS gets enormous latent power.

    So, if one has it, it essentially implies that that XSS would be there all through the life cycle of the application.

    Likewise, the support HTML5 that provides in caching pages for offline utilization unlocks the probability of Cache poisoning.


    With the emergence of diverse libraries and newer ways of development, fresh assaults are sure come to the fore.

    There are things that HTML5 is built of which are its greatest allies and at the same time they are its weaknesses too. Call it a dichotomy in which HTML5 is caught, but they aren’t leaving it any soon

    Posted by Charu Garg Posted in: HTML5 Comments: 0