AN INSECURE WILD WEB: A LARGE-SCALE STUDY OF EFFECTIVENESS OF WEB SECURITY MECHANISMS

Abstract
This research work presents a large-scale study of the problems in real-world web applications and widely-used mobile browsers. Through a large-scale experiment, we find inconsistencies in Secure Socket Layer (SSL) warnings among popular mobile web browsers (over a billion users download). The majority of popular mobile browsers on the Google Play Store either provide incomplete information in SSL warnings shown to users or failed to provide SSL warnings in the presence of security certificate errors, thus making it a difficult task even for a security savvy user to make an informed decision. In addition, we find that 28% of websites are using mixed content. Mixed content means a secure website (https) loads a sub resource using insecure HTTP protocol. The mixed content weakens the security of entire website and vulnerable to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. Furthermore, we inspected the default behavior of mobile web browsers and report that majority of mobile web browsers allow execution of mixed content in web applications, which implies billions of mobile browser users are vulnerable to eavesdropping and MITM attacks. Based on our findings, we make recommendations for website developers, users and browser vendors.

Authors
Kailas Patil
Vishwakarma Institute of Information Technology, India

Keywords
Web Security, Mixed Content, SSL Warnings, HSTS, CSP, X-Frame-Options, X-XSS-Protection
Published By :
ICTACT
Published In :
ICTACT Journal on Communication Technology
( Volume: 8 , Issue: 1 )
Date of Publication :
March 2017

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.