[whatwg] Hashing Passwords Client-side

Mat Carey mat at matcarey.co.uk
Wed Jun 22 09:01:39 PDT 2011

> On Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 6:38 PM, Aryeh Gregor <Simetrical+w3c at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 4:40 AM, James Graham <jgraham at opera.com> wrote:
>>> FWIW I disagree. The same argument could be used against client-side form
>>> validation since some authors might stop doing proper server-side
>>> validation.
>> I agree, HTML5 forms provide a minor net security loss.  However, the
>> loss is fairly small and is easily outweighed by the non-security
>> advantages.  Here we have a proposal that only has security benefits,
>> so if it's a net security loss by even a small margin, or even if it's
>> only a small security gain, it's not worth it.

On 22 Jun 2011, at 16:35, Sean Connelly wrote:

> Hi All,
> I believe there are three major discussions:
> 1. Is the security gain using client-side hashing worth the cost of
> implementation and education?
> 2. How would you implement client-side hashing?
> 3. How will incorrect deployment of client-side hashing affect security?

I'm going to avoid repeating my existing concerns that I've raised already, but I prepose the addition of questions 0 and 4:

0. Are there security gains from using client-side hash?
4. Will client-side hashing encourage some developers out of server-side hashing solutions? e.g. Is implementing this on the client-side going to imply that it's safe/sensible to do on the client-side?

Since my comments I had researched the old WHATWG thread in which Maciej Stachowiak goes through some very well reasoned points which I feel stand in this discussion.  See: 

> Username: <input type="text" name="fuser"><br>
> Password: <input type="text" name="fpass"> (intentionally a text field)<br>
> <input type="hidden" name="fpass.hash" value="sha1,salt">

The legacy-browser user will in this example be asked to enter a password in a text input, not a password input... intentional or typo?

> As an added benefit, the hash can now be applied to any form element.

Is there a use-case for this?

I am still very much of the opinion that client-side hashing is not useful nor beneficial to any site which runs SSL for personal/secure data and hashes on the serverside - anyone not doing this should be encouraged to do so, not offered an alternative which in my opinion (and Maciej's) is not a real security enhancement.  I'm happy to answer more specifically but feel I'd be repeating what I said before, which wouldn't help anyone.

Mat Carey

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