Web Proxy Auto Discovery (WPAD)

Back in the mid-aughts, Adam G., a colleague on the IE team, used the email signature “IE Networking Team – Without us, you’d be browsing your hard drive.” And while I’m sure it was meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, it’s really true– without a working network stack, web browsers aren’t nearly as useful. BackgroundContinue reading “Web Proxy Auto Discovery (WPAD)”

Avoiding Unexpected Navigation

For over twenty years, browsers broadly supported two features that were often convenient but sometimes accidentally invoked, leading to data loss. The first feature was that hitting backspace would send the user back one page in their navigation history. This was convenient for those of us who keep our hands on the keyboard, but couldContinue reading “Avoiding Unexpected Navigation”

Browser Basics: User Gestures

The Web Platform offers a great deal of power, and unfortunately evil websites go to great lengths to abuse it. One of the weakest (but simplest to implement) protections against such abuse is to block actions that were not preceded by a “User Gesture.” Such gestures (sometimes more precisely called User Activations) include a varietyContinue reading “Browser Basics: User Gestures”

A bit of GREASE keeps the web moving

For the first few years of the web, developers pretty much coded whatever they thought was cool and shipped it. Specifications, if written at all, were an afterthought. Then, for the next two decades, spec authors drafted increasingly elaborate specifications with optional features and extensibility points meant to be used to enable future work. Unfortunately,Continue reading “A bit of GREASE keeps the web moving”

META CHARSET

Someone complained that a Japanese page is garbled in Edge/Chrome, but renders with the correct characters in Firefox and IE: The problem is that Chromium is using an unexpected character set to interpret the response in the HTML Parser. That happens because the server doesn’t send a proper character set directive. To avoid problems likeContinue reading “META CHARSET”

Client Certificate Authentication

While most HTTPS sites only authenticate the server (using a certificate sent by the website), HTTPS also supports a mutual authentication mode, whereby the client supplies a certificate that authenticates the visiting user’s identity. Such a certificate might be stored on a SmartCard, or used as a part of an OS identity feature like WindowsContinue reading “Client Certificate Authentication”

Analyzing Network Traffic Logs (NetLog json)

Previously, I’ve described how to capture a network traffic log from Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and applications based on Chromium or Electron. In this post, I aim to catalog some guidance for looking at these logs to help find the root cause of captured problems and otherwise make sense of the data collected. Last Update:Continue reading “Analyzing Network Traffic Logs (NetLog json)”

Debugging Proxy Configuration Scripts in the new Edge

I’ve written about Browser Proxy Configuration a few times over the years, and I’m delighted that Chromium has accurate & up-to-date documentation for its proxy support. One thing I’d like to call out is that Microsoft Edge’s new Chromium foundation introduces a convenient new debugging feature for debugging the behavior of Proxy AutoConfiguration (PAC) scripts.Continue reading “Debugging Proxy Configuration Scripts in the new Edge”

Enigma Conference 2020 – Browser Privacy Panel

Brave, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge presented on our current privacy work at the Enigma 2020 conference in late January. The talks were mostly high-level, but there were a few feature-level slides for each browser. My ~10 minute presentation on Microsoft Edge was first, followed by Firefox, Chrome, and Brave. At 40 minutesContinue reading “Enigma Conference 2020 – Browser Privacy Panel”

“Can I… in the new Edge?”

This post is intended to collect a random set of questions I’ve been asked multiple times about the new Chromium-based Edge. I’ll add to it over time. I wouldn’t call this a FAQ because these questions, while repeated, are not frequently asked. Last Update: Sept 30, 2020 Can I get a list of all ofContinue reading ““Can I… in the new Edge?””