Google's Browser Security Handbook

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 2, 2009
Updated • Dec 9, 2014

Google has publicly released a Browser Security Handbook on Google Code. The handbook "is meant to provide web application developers, browser engineers, and information security researchers with a one-stop reference to key security properties of contemporary web browsers".

The Browser Security Handbook is divided into three parts and a download that contains dozens of examples. The three parts are "Basic concepts behind web browsers", "Standard browser security features" and "Experimental and legacy security mechanisms".

"The document currently covers several hundred security-relevant characteristics of Microsoft Internet Explorer (versions 6 and 7), Mozilla Firefox (versions 2 and 3), Apple Safari, Opera, Google Chrome, and Android embedded browser".

Note: The security handbook as been updated in December 2008 the last time. While still useful especially when it comes to general concepts discussed, it is not taking into accounts recent developments.

In basic concepts, the documents explains the following concepts:

  • Uniform Resource Locators
  • True URL schemes
  • Pseudo URL schemes
  • Hypertext Transfer Protocol
  • Hypertext Markup Language
  • Document Object Model
  • Browser-side JavaScript
  • Other document scripting languages
  • Cascading stylesheets
  • Other built-in document formats
  • Plugin supported content

Please note that the handbook has been written for users interested in security, or are employed as security analysts. It is not a lite read, and inexperienced users may find that even the basic concept part of the book is a tough nut to crack.

The second part, Browser Security features, looks at the web browser, and security features that it offers or uses. The main topics examined in this chapter are:

  • Same-origin policy
  • Life outside same-origin rules
  • Various network-related restrictions
  • Third-party cookie rules
  • Content handling mechanisms
  • Defenses against disruptive scripts
  • Protocol-level encryption facilities

The third and final chapter of the book looks at experimental and legacy security mechanism:

  • HTTP authentication
  • Name look-ahead and content prefetching
  • Password managers
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer zone model
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer frame restrictions
  • HTML5 sandboxed frames
  • HTML5 storage, cache, and worker experiments
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer XSS filtering
  • Script restriction frameworks
  • Secure JSON prasing
  • Origin headers
  • Mozilla content security policies

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  1. Delgado Business Software said on January 2, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    I’m glad that more people will start getting informed about Internet Security. It’s true that a large percentage of internet fraud and hacking attempts would be averted if users were simply more informed.

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