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Purdue University - Discovery Park
Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security

Managing Web Browser risks with the NoScript extension

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It is very risky to enable all client-side scripting technologies when browsing the web (plugins/ActiveX/ JavaScript/Flash etc…).  I installed the “NoScript” extension for Firefox, which allows JavaScript to run only on some whitelisted sites. It is a wonderful idea, except that it comes with a list of pre-enabled sites with some that you can’t delete (the arrogance of dictating unerasable sites!), and the defaults are to not block Flash and other plugins. Moreover, it’s only as secure as DNS, unless you require the “full addresses” option through which I presume you could require an https (SSL) url. Unfortunately there is no way to enable “base 2nd level domains” *and* require SSL, to say for example that I want to trust all *.purdue.edu sites that I contact through SSL and that have valid SSL certificates. It is better than nothing, but needs SSL support to be really useful.  Most people don’t understand the limitations and vulnerabilities of DNS, and the need for SSL, and will therefore have an unwarranted feeling of security while using this plugin.

Comments

Posted by CERIAS Weblogs » Useful Firefox Security Ext
on Thursday, March 16, 2006 at 01:04 PM

[...] NoScript This extension is pretty smooth. Of all the addons for Firefox covered here, this is the one to get. NoScript is a powerful javascript execution whitelisting tool, allowing full user control over what domains allow scripts to run. Notifications of blocked execution and the allowed domain interface are nearly identical to the built-in Firefox popup blocker, so users should find it comfortable to work with. NoScript can also block Flash, Java, and “other plugins;” forbid bookmarklets; block or allow the “ping” attribute of the tag; and attempt to rewrite links that execute javascript to go to their intended donation without triggering the script code.The one thing I’d really like to see from this extension would be more ganularity over what the Javascript engine can access. Now it’s only “on” or “off,” but being able to disable things like cookie access would eliminate a lot of potential security issues while still letting JS power rich web app interfaces. Also read Pascal Meunier’s take on NoScript. [...]

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