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An Empirical Study of Browser's Evolution

Web success is associated with the expansion of web interfaces in software. They have replaced many thick-clients and command-line interfaces. HTML is now a widely adopted generic user-interface description language. The cloud-computing trend set browsers in a central position, handling all our personal and professional information. Online banking and e-commerce are the sources of an attractive cash flow for online thefts, and all this personal information is sold on black markets. Unsurprisingly, web browsers are consequently the favorite targets of online attacks.

The fierce competition between browser vendors is associated with a features race, leading to partial implementation of W3C norms, and non-standard features. It resulted in a fast release pace of new browser versions over these last years.

While positively perceived by users, such competition can have a negative impact on browser security and user privacy. This increasing number of features and the discrepancies between browser vendors' implementations facilitate the attacker task for cross site scripting (XSS) and drive-by download attacks.

Through this thesis, we propose to adopt the attacker's viewpoint. We will test and analyze the browsers' engines as black-boxes, like hackers using the latest browsers' evolutions to evade current detection techniques or bypass protections.

Coming to the overall objectives of a research leading to the better understandings of browser's role in security, this thesis provides an instrument to understand XSS attack vectors.

We categorize them, evaluate the exposure of web browsers against XSS and may eventually open the field, but this is beyond the scope of this thesis, to a new strategy to detect future client-side attacks, however this last point is beyond the scope of this thesis.

File Type: PDF
File Size: 2.50 MB
Total Pages: 170

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