Full Title or Meme
The Inline Frame, or iFrame was introduced to allow isolated web pages from unrelated entities to embed content seamlessly into a web page.
- Frames and Framesets were introduced early in browser history to enable refreshing only a portion of a web page to improve responsiveness of web pages in the days of low bandwidth data communications.
- Identity features like OpenID Connect and WebAuthn 2 depends on the Cross-Origin iFrame for a seamless User Experience when identity is provided by a different web site than the Relying Party.
- This page is oriented towards the security of the user, unlike most web sites which are typically concerned only with data under their control, as this is the way that data protection laws have been written.
- DOM = Document Object Model resident in a "window" object in an HTML based user agent (typically a browser).
- The user is somewhat at the mercy of the web site in that the site is more interested in gaining users than in their security.
- Limitations that have been placed on iFrames can (with the exception of running plugins) be disabled by the source web site which does not fully share the user's security concerns.
- Run plug-ins
- Submit forms - disabled by allow-forms
- Change the parent web page’s URL - disabled by allow-top-navigation
- Read cookies or local storage, even if it’s from the parent domain
- Open new tabs, new windows or pop-up windows - partially disabled by allow-popups
- Access data from Origin URL - allow-same-origin
Cross Site Scripting
Cross Web Site Scripting (XSS) Attacks are a type of injection, in which malicious scripts are injected into otherwise benign and trusted websites. XSS attacks occur when an attacker uses a web application to send malicious code, generally in the form of a browser side script, to a different end user. Flaws that allow these attacks to succeed are quite widespread and occur anywhere a web application uses input from a user within the output it generates without validating or encoding it.
The SameSite cookie attribute offers defense against CSRF attacks but currently does not consider secure and insecure version of the same domain as being cross-site; because of this, a network attacker could impersonate http://site.example (or a subdomain) and use that to bypass SameSite protections on https://site.example. Changing the same-site computation to consider http://site.example and https://site.example as cross-site negates this type of attack.
iFrames bring other annoyances, like messing up the behavior of the back button or accessibility functionality. With two different teams working on the main frame and iframe, weird interactions are inevitable.
- The browser (or user agent) is now being sold to user's as an instrument of user protection. This attitude by the browser manufactures picked up relevance when Apple began advertising their privacy features to consumers in 2020 and earlier.
- The "window" interface is a pointer to an object that contains a DOM which is a collection of all the functions, namespaces, objects as well as the more commonly understood User Interface.elements.
- In a tabbed browser, each tab starts out as a single window object, but can spawn additional windows with each iFrame.
- Some of the window properties of interest to this wiki (that are not deprecated) are:
- Window.isSecureContext - Read only Experimental - Indicates whether a context is capable of using features that require secure contexts.
- WindowOrWorkerGlobalScope.caches - Read only - Returns the CacheStorage object associated with the current context. This object enables functionality such as storing assets for offline use, and generating custom responses to requests.
- WindowOrWorkerGlobalScope.indexedDB - Read only - Provides a mechanism for applications to asynchronously access capabilities of indexed databases; returns an IDBFactory object.
- WindowOrWorkerGlobalScope.isSecureContext - Read only - Returns a boolean indicating whether the current context is secure (true) or not (false).
- WindowOrWorkerGlobalScope.crossOriginIsolated - Read only Experimental not in non-Chrome phones or in Apple - The crossOriginIsolated read-only property of the WindowOrWorkerGlobalScope interface returns a boolean value that indicates whether a SharedArrayBuffer can be sent via a Window.postMessage() call. This value is dependent on any policy headers (see below) present in the response. (valid on 2021-03-15)
- The policy headers present in the response of interest to this wiki.
- Cross-Origin-Opener-Policy (COOP)
- Cross-Origin-Embedder-Policy (COEP)
- 3 Reasons You Might Not Want To Use Iframes is somewhat older. It is written from perspective of devs not users. It sure shows that devs never think that they cause security problems.
- Iframes as a Security Feature does actually acknowledge some of the security problems with iFrames but mostly is oriented to Relying Party.