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How to tell if your designing an insecure website


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A rambling talk about how the same things that comprise of effective design are misused to create effective phishing pages. Additionally the browser UI and security controls focus on things that most people completely ignore.

The idea of the presentation was to plant a seed of an idea that designers might be able to shape and take the lead in designing secure solutions meant for ordinary non-technical users if they start thinking about security as part of their deliverable.

This can even be done by ensuring that security team and designers collaborate on more projects together.

The presentation makes a lot more sense with the accompanying video

Published in: Technology
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How to tell if your designing an insecure website

  1. 1. HOW TO Tell if your designing an insecure websiteAkash Mahajan at Meta Refresh 2013
  2. 2. Hasgeek Doesn’t Allow How-tos As Does thisTalks But I Got In !! bother you? :P HOW TO Tell if your designing an insecure website
  3. 3. Joke
  4. 4. DISCLAIMER Insecure Websites Design and UI/UX This is not a how to, this ismore like a series of thoughts
  5. 5. Effective Design, UI or UXTalking About Effective Design
  6. 6. Can we say effective design isSomething that compels a user to do what the designer wanted?
  7. 7. Gmail ; A Great Example of Effective Design
  8. 8. Close Look at our example Phishing Attack or Effective Design
  9. 9. Even closer look at our example 1. Favicon FTW 2. Bookmark link
  10. 10. Phishing with a ph!
  11. 11. Salient features of effective designAssumptions – maybe based ondata like heat maps etc.Call to action – green button = goVisual cues andlogos to inspiretrust
  12. 12. Salient features of phishingMost people don’tNotice what is in theaddress barPeople love to fill loginforms
  13. 13. Address bar/URL can look like scheme://[login[:password]@] (host_name|host_address)[:po rt][/hierarchical/path/to/re source[?search_string][#frag ment_id]]From Browser Security Handbook
  14. 14. Design Thinking?
  15. 15. Maybe Don’t Think == Impulsiveim·pul·sive /imˈp lsiv/ əAdjectiveActing or done without forethought:"young impulsive teenagers shoppers".
  16. 16. phish·ingmade up wordis the act of attempting to acquireinformation such as usernames,passwords, and credit card details bymasquerading as a trustworthy entityin an electronic communication.
  17. 17. Effective Design/UI/UX is about generatingTRUST
  18. 18. People trust big shiny locks
  19. 19. Best piece of advice from a show about aliens
  20. 20. Two examples where this trust collides with effective design and makes the UI/UX bad for the user1. Password Reset/Change feature2. An SSL enabled website
  21. 21. How password reset should work Enter email to reset password YourSuperSecretPassword
  22. 22. What went down behind the scenes• Code loaded in the browser sent that email to server.
  23. 23. What went down behind the scenes• Server did bunch of things like check if email was in database, generated password etc.
  24. 24. The difficult part & UI nightmare How does the server know that it is you who filled theemail and you are the owner of this email address?
  25. 25. So how is it supposed to work?• Using out of band communication.• Code loaded in the browser sent that email to server.
  26. 26. And…..?• Web server will email you a unique link. Hoping that the email address is in your hands• You click on the link and go back to the server.• Server confirms the link is proper it allows you to reset the password
  27. 27. Just FYI, that the email address you sent to theserver and the password you got back were in CLEARTEXT
  28. 28. People/stuff between you & the server• Wireless Network• Helpful IT admin monitoring for “bad traffic”• ISP gateway with helpful IT admin “monitoring”• Country level gateway with helpful govt. IT admin “monitoring” – Think Tunisia, Egypt, Iran• Helpful Server admin “monitoring”• And who knows what else is out there.
  29. 29. Just to recap!• Effective Design/UI/UX inspires trust.• People trust based on strong visual cues• These cues can be faked.• So ideally trust no one• If we use common sense approach to generating a new password we will need to trust multiple intermediaries.
  30. 30. So how do we create secure websites?Finally a problem worthy of philosoraptor
  31. 31. HTTP + SSL/TLS = HTTPS
  32. 32. SSL/TLSEncrypted Communication – Nobodycan see your message hence can’tchange itSecure Identification of a Network –Are you talking to the right server?
  33. 33.
  34. 34. Bad Things can HappenComodo an affiliate of a root CA was hacked.DigiNotar another affiliate was hacked.Hundreds of certificates for google, yahoo,mozilla, MS windows update were released.
  35. 35. Rougue SSL Certificate
  36. 36. Secure By DesignWill cover this next year!
  37. 37. I don’t have any answers for you• I am not a designer. I understand security in systems.• I understand that people want to use systems to do things, not get stopped due to security or insecurity.• The idea was to get your attention and see if these problems can be solved using design.
  38. 38. @makash Akash MahajanThat Web Application Security Guy