NoScript

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For the <noscript> HTML element, see HTML element#Other block elements.
NoScript
Developer(s) Giorgio Maone
Stable release 2.6.8.24 / May 14, 2014; 2 months ago (2014-05-14)
Written in JavaScript, XUL, CSS
Available in 45 Languages
Type Mozilla extension
License GPL
Website NoScript.net

NoScript (or NoScript Security Suite) is a free and open-source extension for Mozilla Firefox, SeaMonkey, and other Mozilla-based web browsers, created and actively maintained by Giorgio Maone,[1] an Italian software developer and member of the Mozilla Security Group.[2] NoScript allows executable web content such as JavaScript, Java, Flash, Silverlight, and other plugins only if the site hosting is considered trusted by its user and has been previously added to a whitelist. NoScript also offers specific countermeasures against security exploits.[3]

Features[edit]

Security and usage[edit]

NoScript blocks JavaScript, Java, Flash, Silverlight, and other "active" content by default in Firefox. This is based on the assumption that malicious websites can use these technologies in harmful ways. Users can allow active content to execute on trusted websites, by giving explicit permission, on a temporary or a more permanent basis. If "Temporarily allow" is selected, then scripts are enabled for that site until the browser session is closed.

Because many web browser attacks require scripting, configuring the browser to have scripting disabled by default reduces the chances of exploitation. Blocking plug-in content, as well, helps to mitigate any vulnerabilities in plug-in technologies, such as Java, Flash, Acrobat, and so on. NoScript will replace these blocked elements with a placeholder icon. Clicking on this icon enables the element.[4]

NoScript takes the form of a toolbar icon or status bar icon in Firefox. It displays on every website to denote whether NoScript has either blocked, allowed, or partially allowed scripts to run on the web page being viewed. Clicking or hovering (since version 2.0.3rc1[5]) the mouse cursor on the NoScript icon gives the user the option to allow or forbid the script's processing.

NoScript also may provide additional defenses against web-based attacks such as XSS, CSRF, clickjacking, man-in-the-middle attacks, and DNS rebinding, with specific countermeasures that work independently from script blocking.[6]

Site matching and whitelisting[edit]

Scripts (and other blockable elements) are allowed or blocked based on the source from where the script is fetched. Very often, this source is not identical to the URL displayed in the address field of the web page (main page). This is because many web pages fetch elements such as iframes, style sheets, scripts, and embeddable objects from remote sites. When a web page includes scripts and other blockable elements from many sources, the user may specify blocking policy for the main address and each of the sources separately.

No scripts are executed if the address of the main page is untrusted. Once any source is marked as trusted, NoScript will regard it as trusted even if it is loaded indirectly by web pages or scripts originating from other domains.

The possibility to allow scripts coming from a certain source only for specific main page locations has been requested frequently, but is not yet easy to configure. It may be achieved by configuring the built-in ABE module to fine-tune cross-site resource access.[7]

For each source, the exact address, exact domain, or parent domain may be specified. By enabling a domain (e.g. mozilla.org), all its subdomains are implicitly enabled (e.g. www.mozilla.org, addons.mozilla.org and so on) with every possible protocol (e.g. HTTP and https). By enabling an address (protocol://host, e.g. http://www.mozilla.org), its subdirectories are enabled (e.g. http://www.mozilla.org/firefox and http://www.mozilla.org/thunderbird), but not its domain ancestors nor its siblings. Therefore, mozilla.org and addons.mozilla.org will not be automatically enabled.[8]

Untrusted blacklist[edit]

Sites can also be blacklisted with NoScript.[9] This, coupled with the "Allow Scripts Globally" option, lets users who deem NoScript's "Default Deny" policy too restrictive, to turn it into a "Default Allow" policy.[10] Even if the security level is lower than in the default configuration, NoScript still provides a number of defenses against certain web-based attacks, such as cross-site scripting, CSRF, clickjacking, man-in-the-middle attacks, and DNS rebinding.[6]

Anti-XSS protection[edit]

On April 11, 2007, NoScript 1.1.4.7 was publicly released,[11] introducing the first client-side protection against Type 0 and Type 1 Cross-site scripting (XSS) ever delivered in a web browser. Whenever a website tries to inject HTML or JavaScript code inside a different site, NoScript filters the malicious request, neutralizing its dangerous load.[12] Similar features have been adopted years later by Microsoft Internet Explorer 8[13] and by Google Chrome.[14]

Application Boundaries Enforcer (ABE)[edit]

The Application Boundaries Enforcer (ABE) is a NoScript module meant to harden the web application oriented protections already provided by NoScript, by delivering a firewall-like component running inside the browser. This "firewall" is specialized in defining and guarding the boundaries of each sensitive web application relevant to the user (e.g. webmail, online banking and so on), according to policies defined either directly by the user, or by the web developer/administrator, or by a trusted third party.[15] In its default configuration, NoScript's ABE provides protection against CSRF and DNS rebinding attacks aimed at intranet resources, such as routers or sensitive web applications.[16]

ClearClick (anti-clickjacking)[edit]

NoScript's ClearClick feature,[17] released on October 8, 2008, prevents users from clicking on invisible or "redressed" page elements of embedded documents or applets, defeating all types of clickjacking (i.e. frame-based and plugin-based).[18] This makes NoScript "the only freely available product which offers a reasonable degree of protection" against clickjacking attacks.[19]

HTTPS enhancements[edit]

NoScript can force the browser to always use HTTPS when establishing connections to some sensitive sites, in order to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks. This behavior can be either triggered by the websites themselves, by sending the Strict Transport Security header, or configured by users for those websites which don't support Strict Transport Security yet.[20] NoScript's HTTPS enhancement features have been used by the Electronic Frontier Foundation as the basis of its HTTPS Everywhere add-on.[21]

Unintended benefits[edit]

NoScript provides some unintended benefits. Since ads tend to be rich graphics served via JavaScript, use of NoScript (which blocks the JavaScript) can reduce bandwidth consumption by approximately 42%.[22] As some web tracking services depend on JavaScript, and as JavaScript exposes browser and operating system configuration details, NoScript can increase privacy and anonymity as seen via the EFF's Panopticlick tool.[23] NoScript also can be used by web developers as a convenient way to test how well sites work without JavaScript, particularly since modern versions of Firefox have removed JavaScript controls from the regular configuration pane.[24]

Awards[edit]

  • PC World chose NoScript as one of the 100 Best Products of 2006.[25]
  • In 2008, NoScript won About.com's "Best Security Add-On" editorial award.[26]
  • In 2010, NoScript was "The Reader's Choice Awards" winner in the "Best Privacy/Security Add-On" category at About.com.[27]
  • In 2011, for the second year in a row, NoScript was "The Reader's Choice Awards" winner in the "Best Privacy/Security Add-On" category at About.com.[28]
  • NoScript was the 2011 (first edition) winner of the Dragon Research Group's "Security Innovation Grant". This award is given to the most innovative project in the area of information security, as judged by an independent committee.[29]

Criticism[edit]

NoScript's default behavior is to block all scripts that are not whitelisted. This may prevent a large number of sites from automatically working due to their reliance on JavaScript technologies such as Ajax. Users may find this behavior overkill, unnecessary, or tedious despite the additional security.[30]

NoScript's standard installation state contains a number of whitelistings that comprise some of the most commonly denounced tracking and data aggregation entities on the web. Some portions of NoScript also contain settings usually hidden from the user's eye or made difficult to remove which list numerous advertising entities, including Maone's own, in a way that can allow activities the user has not willfully consented to.

Controversies[edit]

Conflict with AdBlock Plus[edit]

In May 2009, it was reported that an "extension war" had broken out between NoScript's developer, Giorgio Maone, and the developers of the Firefox ad-blocking extension AdBlock Plus after Maone released a version of NoScript that circumvented a block enabled by an AdBlock Plus filter.[31][32] The code implementing this workaround was "camouflaged"[31] to avoid detection. Maone stated that he had implemented it in response to a filter that blocked his own website. After mounting criticism, and a declaration by the administrators of the Mozilla Add-ons site that the site would change its guidelines regarding add-on modifications,[33] Maone removed the code and issued a full apology.[31][34]

Conflict with Ghostery[edit]

Also in May 2009, shortly after the AdBlock Plus incident,[35] a spat arose between Maone and the developers of the Ghostery add-on after Maone implemented a change on his website that disabled the notification Ghostery used to report web tracking software.[36] This was interpreted as an attempt to "prevent Ghostery from reporting on trackers and ad networks on NoScript's websites".[35] In response, Maone stated that the change was made because Ghostery's notification obscured the donation button on the NoScript site.[37]

The conflict was resolved when Maone changed his site's CSS to move—rather than disable—the Ghostery notification.[38]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Meet the NoScript Developer". Mozilla. Retrieved 2011-09-27. 
  2. ^ "Mozilla Security Group". Mozilla. Retrieved 2011-09-27. 
  3. ^ Scott Orgera. "NoScript". About.com. Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  4. ^ Will Dormann and Jason Rafail (2008-02-14). "Securing Your Web Browser". CERT. Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  5. ^ "NoScript Changelog". noscript.net. Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Giorgio Maone (2010-08-01). "al_9x Was Right, My Router is Safe". Hackademix.net. Retrieved 2010-08-02. 
  7. ^ Can I use ABE to fine-tune NoScript's permissions? NoScript.net. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  8. ^ NoScript Features-Site matching NoScript.net. Retrieved April 22, 2008.
  9. ^ NoScript Features-Untrusted blacklist NoScript.net. Retrieved April 22, 2008.
  10. ^ Kassner, Michael. "An interview with Giorgio Maone, creator of NoScript". TechRepublic. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  11. ^ NoScript's first Anti-XSS release Mozilla Add-ons
  12. ^ NoScript Features-Anti-XSS protection NoScript.net. Retrieved April 22, 2008.
  13. ^ Nathan Mc Fethers (2008-07-03). "NoScript vs Internet Explorer 8 Filters". ZDNet. Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  14. ^ Adam Barth (2010-01-26). "Security in Depth: New Security Features". Google. Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  15. ^ Giorgio Maone. "Application Boundaries Enforcer (ABE)". NoScript.net. Retrieved 2010-08-02. 
  16. ^ Giorgio Maone (2010-07-28). "ABE Patrols Routes to Your Routers". Hackademix.net. Retrieved 2010-08-02. 
  17. ^ http://noscript.net/faq#clearclick
  18. ^ Giorgio Maone (2008-10-08). "Hello ClearClick, Goodbye Clickjacking". Hackademix.net. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  19. ^ Michal Zalewski (2008-12-10). "Browser Security Handbook, Part 2, UI Redressing". Google Inc. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  20. ^ NoScript FAQ: HTTPS NoScript.net. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  21. ^ HTTPS Everywhere
  22. ^ "The effect of Firefox addons on bandwidth consumption". 
  23. ^ "Panopticlick: How Unique and Trackable is Your Browser?". 
  24. ^ Mozilla issue tracker, item 873709
  25. ^ PC World Award pcworld.com. Retrieved April 22, 2008.
  26. ^ About.com 2008 Best Security Add-On Award about.com. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  27. ^ Best Privacy/Security Add-On 2010 about.com. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  28. ^ Best Privacy/Security Add-On 2011 about.com. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  29. ^ Security Innovation Grant Winner Announcement Dragon Research Group. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
  30. ^ Peter Smith (17 Apr 2007). "Top 10 Firefox extensions to avoid". Computerworld. International Data Group. Retrieved 2 May 2009. 
  31. ^ a b c Goodin, Dan. "Firefox users caught in crossfire of warring add-ons". The Register. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  32. ^ "Extension wars – NoScript vs. AdBlockPlus". Ajaxian. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  33. ^ "No Surprises". 2009-05-01. 
  34. ^ Dear Adblock Plus and NoScript Users, Dear Mozilla Community
  35. ^ a b Attention all NoScript users
  36. ^ yardley.ca "When blockers block the blockers", Greg Yardley (2009-05-04)
  37. ^ NoScript support forum "Re: Latest NoScript version (1.9.2) breaks Adblock Plus", comment #3704, Giorgio Maone (2009-05-04)
  38. ^ NoScript support forum "Re: Additional steps to regain and retain user trust", comment #3935, Giorgio Maone (2009-05-06)

External links[edit]