Maximally minimal stack trace standardization

Domenic Denicola d at
Wed Mar 11 02:45:39 UTC 2015

Can’t we just have Error.prototype.stack be a getter that SES is allowed to delete and hide away for its own purposes later?

From: es-discuss [mailto:es-discuss-bounces at] On Behalf Of John Lenz
Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 08:35
To: Mark S. Miller
Cc: es-discuss; Erik Arvidsson
Subject: Re: Maximally minimal stack trace standardization

 Ok, as long as we are clear there is an existing information leak on non-v8 engines.

On Tue, Mar 10, 2015 at 1:48 PM, Mark S. Miller <erights at<mailto:erights at>> wrote:
On Chrome and Opera (v8), <> hides the stack. It is important that we not lose this.

Regarding the rest, as previously discussed, there are enough differences between browsers that there is no legacy we must codify because of web-wide agreement. Take a look at the extensive efforts <> makes to parse despite these differences in stack format. As long as we're standardizing something not compat with web-wide legacy, as we must, we might as well also fix this security leak in the process.

On Tue, Mar 10, 2015 at 1:24 PM, John Lenz <concavelenz at<mailto:concavelenz at>> wrote:

On Mon, Mar 9, 2015 at 5:45 PM, Mark S. Miller <erights at<mailto:erights at>> wrote:
On Mon, Mar 9, 2015 at 5:02 PM, John Lenz <concavelenz at<mailto:concavelenz at>> wrote:

On Mon, Mar 9, 2015 at 12:15 PM, Mark S. Miller <erights at<mailto:erights at>> wrote:
On Sat, Mar 7, 2015 at 2:55 PM, John Lenz <concavelenz at<mailto:concavelenz at>> wrote:
I wanted to ping this thread and see how we could get "max-min stack traces" to the next step?

Hi John, the best way to take this to the next step is to read <> and submit a proposal to <>.

"If you are a TC39 member representative, just submit a pull request for your proposal."

Since you are at a member organization, attend and participate actively at TC39 meetings to advance your proposal through the process.

Please keep in mind that the stack trace information should not be available simply from the error object by itself, as that is a bad information leak.

The threads I dug up, simply state what you state here.  That there is an "information leak".  Are filename and function names considered sensitive?  In what way?

They reveal details of the callee's computation to the caller that the callee should have been able to assume were private. See starting at middle of 2nd paragraph of <>.

the depth of the execution stack is visible, which could pose a risk in certain scenarios: for instance, consider trusted code containing a recursive function whose level of recursion depends on some sensitive data (e.g., a secret cryptographic key), and suppose the recursive function is called with arguments that induce it to hit an error condition and throw an exception from deep within the recursion.  In such a case, the caller might be able to learn something about the callee’s secrets by catching the exception, examining the resulting stack trace, and recovering the stack depth.  These scenarios do not occur in the DarpaBrowser, but have been used in exploits on other systems.  Accordingly, though the risk for DarpaBrowser is small, it should probably be repaired (Fixing this was determined not to be hard).

    --David Wagner and E. Dean Tribble,
        "A Security Review of the Combex DarpaBrowser Architecture"

Likewise, the risk here -- of only a stack of function names and source positions -- is small. But it violates the normal privacy assumptions between caller and callee; and fixing it is again not hard -- via getStack.

I did not intend to promote a "rich stack inspection API" such as V8 has.

That's good, but there is one thing I really like about the rich inspection API that it would be a shame to lose: The user doesn't have to do their own adhoc parsing of yet another ad hoc textual format. Since this format contains function names, we would then even need to worry about maliciously chosen function names, intended to get this stack format parsing code to misparse. If the stack is a stack of, for example, JSON strings, then we avoid this hazard.

Sure, but I feel like that is independent, I mostly want to codify what already exists and standardize throw/rethrow behavior.   That is why I ask about the information leak.  Error objects already have "stack" properties on all the major browsers. If "stack" leaks information then they already do and the rectification should be there. (It makes no sense to add a "leak-free" API when a "leaky" one already exists).



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