Linked by David Adams on Tue 21st Jun 2011 15:36 UTC, submitted by fran
3D News, GL, DirectX "Mozilla's VP of Technical Strategy, Mike Shaver has rejected Microsoft's criticism of WebGL in which it said it would not implement the 3D graphics standard because of security issues in the design. Shaver says that "there is no question that the web needs 3D capabilities" to enable developers to create "advanced visualisations, games or new user interfaces" and points at Molehill (Adobe's 3D for Flash) and Microsoft's Silverlight 3D which are offering just those capabilities." One discussion of Microsofts WebGL criticism can be found here.
Thread beginning with comment 478065
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
MS got it right this time
by siki_miki on Tue 21st Jun 2011 22:39 UTC
siki_miki
Member since:
2006-01-17

Graphical stacks are all but safe. Also they are one of the most complex software components of the entire OS, and then also rely on a very direct means of hw access for raw speed.

Purpose of GL/D3D to these days is to compile shader code, do some validation and pass it as a command buffer to the hardware. They also apply some restrictions on memory access and to avoid deadlocking by apps. Yes they do all the fancy API mangling, but it boils down to above, and when this cooked instruction packs are transferred to kernel portion and hw, problems arise.

First, don't blame MS, they did much to improve situation by requirements on Vista driver model (at least for 2.0, but I don't know where they got with vendors). So maybe latest few generations by AMD and Nvidia hardware is robust enough, but most hardware around is still DX9 class - inherently secure to untrusted shaders and other mangling. In short, graphic hardware in most desktops and laptops is too rudimentary to support hw level insulation like e.g. CPU's, so it has to be done by validating every bit of code that runs on them. Complementary problem is drivers, for which security was never an issue, and were instead every last bit optimized to run fast on 3DMark and and new games.

While there is a lot of software "validation" in drivers, and probably not yet as mature one in browsers, the DoS is pretty much practical and easy, I'd say hard to avoid on most common HW/OS/driver combination. Ever had a game freezing your machine due to a game or driver bug?
So, yes even a perfectly legal WebGL shader code could create problems, and maybe even comprimise machine with some probability.

IMHO, WebGL opens up too much phase space at once, and MS is certainly going to be blamed for a lot of it. Actually Linux, Apple have it on their hands as they mantain and know their own driver code.

Good side of this is that at last there is time to address these "little" problems, and force GPU manufacturers to produce secure hardware and drivers. I think for AMD/Nvidia the latter is bigger issue. For some hardware it might mean retirement or disabled Web GL - not sure about Intel, my i965 windows driver hasn't received update in years, so how is this going to suddenly change for the better?

Reply Score: 7

RE: MS got it right this time
by Riddic on Thu 23rd Jun 2011 14:07 in reply to "MS got it right this time"
Riddic Member since:
2005-10-05