Security and sandboxing

A project log for micro HTTP server in C

Connect your browser to your smart devices, using a minimalist HTTP compliant server written in POSIX/C

Yann Guidon / YGDESYann Guidon / YGDES 03/28/2017 at 02:560 Comments

The server is designed to run almost like a simplified file server in a POSIX machine. This implies a significant attack surface and a lot of potential for abuse.

(D)DOS attacks are pretty easy to create : the server is single-threaded and uses persistent connections but no authentication. This is not a security hazard, at least in a lab environment where there should be only one user.

There are many kinds of known, unknown and potential risks that require careful coding and safe development practices. The attack surface is reduced by limiting the system to its core functionality and keeping things as simple as possible (KISS).

But what about the unknown bugs ?

One solution is to use sandboxing techniques and implement inherent UNIX protection mechanisms. This way, if the system ever goes bad, the potential damage is contained to a portion of the system. Two methods protect this server:

These are "last lines of defence" methods, which are complemented by many routine checks :

Of course, a user can always configure the server badly...

Many security considerations are covered in « The Tangled Web - AGuide to Securing Modern Web Applications » by Zalewski, Michał