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The Tangled Web: A Guide to Securing Modern Web Applications


“Thorough and comprehensive coverage from one of the foremost experts in browser security.”
—Tavis Ormandy, Google Inc.

Modern web applications are built on a tangle of technologies that have been developed over time and then haphazardly pieced together. Every piece of the web application stack, from HTTP requests to browser-side scripts, comes with important yet subtle security consequences. To keep users safe, it is essential for developers to confidently navigate this landscape.

In The Tangled Web, Michal Zalewski, one of the world’s top browser security experts, offers a compelling narrative that explains exactly how browsers work and why they’re fundamentally insecure. Rather than dispense simplistic advice on vulnerabilities, Zalewski examines the entire browser security model, revealing weak points and providing crucial information for shoring up web application security. You’ll learn how to:

  • Perform common but surprisingly complex tasks such as URL parsing and HTML sanitization
  • Use modern security features like Strict Transport Security, Content Security Policy, and Cross-Origin Resource Sharing
  • Leverage many variants of the same-origin policy to safely compartmentalize complex web applications and protect user credentials in case of XSS bugs
  • Build mashups and embed gadgets without getting stung by the tricky frame navigation policy
  • Embed or host user-supplied content without running into the trap of content sniffing

For quick reference, “Security Engineering Cheat Sheets” at the end of each chapter offer ready solutions to problems you’re most likely to encounter. With coverage extending as far as planned HTML5 features, The Tangled Web will help you create secure web applications that stand the test of time.

Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Security in the World of Web Applications

Part I: Anatomy of the Web
Chapter 2 It Starts with a URL
Chapter 3 Hypertext Transfer Protocol
Chapter 4 Hypertext Markup Language
Chapter 5 Cascading Style Sheets
Chapter 6 Browser-Side Scripts
Chapter 7 Non-HTML Document Types
Chapter 8 Content Rendering with Browser Plug-ins

Part II: Browser Security Features
Chapter 9 Content Isolation Logic
Chapter 10 Origin Inheritance
Chapter 11 Life Outside Same-Origin Rules
Chapter 12 Other Security Boundaries
Chapter 13 Content Recognition Mechanisms
Chapter 14 Dealing with Rogue Scripts
Chapter 15 Extrinsic Site Privileges

Part III: A Glimpse of Things to Come
Chapter 16 New and Upcoming Security Features
Chapter 17 Other Browser Mechanisms of Note

Chapter 18 Common Web Vulnerabilities

Appendix Epilogue
Notes
UPDATES

Book Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press (November 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593273886
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593273880
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