[whatwg] WebSocket and proxies

Richard's Hotmail maher_rj at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 29 02:54:10 PDT 2008

Hi Shannon,

Bummer :-( Please don't give up!

Sorry if this is a really stupid question (my knowledge of proxy-servers is
minimal) but what issues are involved here that have not been solved with a
product such as Orbited? http://www.orbited.org/

Look, I've never used it but, if I understand it correctly, it sits behind
the proxy-server and traps the Socket traffic and forwards it onto the
designated run-o'-the-mill TCP/IP server. Could a similar mechanism(s) not
work here? Is it that we're dealing with runtime discovery of public
proxy-servers outside any firewalls? Something else?

Cheers Richard Maher

PS. Much prefer the websocket.read(bytes) and websocket.write(bytes) well
done! Please don't forget websocket.peek(bytes).

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Shannon" <shannon at arc.net.au>
To: "WHAT working group" <whatwg at lists.whatwg.org>
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2008 7:22 AM
Subject: [whatwg] WebSocket and proxies

> In the process of testing my WebSocket proposal I discovered the CONNECT
> method has a major restriction. Most proxies disable CONNECT to anything
> but port 443.
> The following is from "Squid and the Blowfish":
> ------------------
> It is very important that you stop CONNECT type requests to non-SSL
> ports. The CONNECT method allows data transfer in any direction at any
> time, regardless of the transport protocol used. As a consequence, a
> malicious user could telnet(1) to a (very) badly configured proxy, enter
> something like:
> ... snip example ...
> and end up connected to the remote server, as if the connection was
> originated by the proxy.
> -------------------
> I verified that Squid and all public proxies I tried disable CONNECT by
> default to non-SSL ports. It's unlikely many internet hosts will have
> 443 available for WebSockets if they also run a webserver. It could be
> done with virtual IPs or dedicated hosts but this imposes complex
> requirements and costs over alternatives like CGI.
> The availability and capabilities of the OPTIONS and GET protocols also
> varied from proxy to proxy. The IETF draft related to TLS
> (http://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-ietf-tls-http-upgrade-05) has this to
> -------------------
> 3.2 Mandatory Upgrade
>    If an unsecured response would be unacceptable, a client MUST send
>    an OPTIONS request first to complete the switch to TLS/1.0 (if
>    possible).
>           OPTIONS * HTTP/1.1
>           Host: example.bank.com
>           Upgrade: TLS/1.0
>           Connection: Upgrade
> -------------------
> So according to this draft spec OPTIONS is the only way to do a
> *mandatory* upgrade of our connection. Once again this failed in testing
> -------------------
> => OPTIONS * HTTP/1.1
> => Proxy-Connection: keep-alive
> => Connection: Upgrade
> => Upgrade: WebSocket/1.0
> => Host: warriorhut.org:8000
> =>
> <= HTTP/1.0 400 Bad Request
> <= Server: squid/3.0.STABLE8
> --------------------
> Other proxies gave different errors or simply returned nothing. The
> problem may be related to the Upgrade and Connection headers rather than
> OPTIONS, since I had similar issues using Connection: Upgrade with GET.
> I had the most success using GET without a Connection: Upgrade header.
> It seems that the proxy thinks the header is directed at it so it does
> not pass it on to the remote host. In many cases it will abort the
> connection. Using the Upgrade: header without Connection allows the
> Upgrade header through to the actual websocket service.
> It seems to me that whatever we try in many cases the connection will be
> silently dropped by the proxy and the reasons will be unclear due to the
> lack of error handling. There seems to be a wide variation in proxy
> behaviour for uncommon operations. I suppose proxy developers could fix
> these issues but whether a significant rollout could be achieved before
> HTML5 is released is questionable.
> Given that an asynchronous connection cannot be cached the only reasons
> remaining for going through a proxy are anonymity and firewall
> traversal. Automatically bypassing the users proxy configuration to
> solve the issues above has the potential to break both of these. It
> would be a significant breach of trust for a UA to bypass the users
> proxy and some networks only allow connections via a proxy (for security
> and monitoring).
> It seems that we're stuck between a rock and hard place here. In light
> of this I reiterate my earlier suggestion that the time could be better
> spent providing guidelines for communication via an asynchronous CGI
> interface. This would allow reuse of existing port 80 and 443 web
> services which would resolve the cross-domain issues (the CGI can relay
> the actual service via a backend connection) and most of the proxy
> issues above (since proxy GET and CONNECT are more reliable on these
> Shannon

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