SandTrap: Securing JavaScript-driven Trigger-Action Platforms

by Mohammad M. Ahmadpanah, Daniel Hedin, Musard Balliu, Lars Eric Olsson, Andrei Sabelfeld.

In Proceedings of the 30th USENIX Security Symposium, August 2021.

Trigger-Action Platforms (TAPs) seamlessly connect a wide variety of otherwise unconnected devices and services, ranging from IoT devices to cloud services and social networks. TAPs raise critical security and privacy concerns because a TAP is effectively a “person-in-the-middle” between trigger and action services. Third-party code, routinely deployed as “apps” on TAPs, further exacerbates these concerns. This paper focuses on JavaScript-driven TAPs. We show that the popular IFTTT and Zapier platforms and an open-source alternative Node-RED are susceptible to attacks ranging from exfiltrating data from unsuspecting users to taking over the entire platform. We report on the changes by the platforms in response to our findings and present an empirical study to assess the implications for Node-RED. Motivated by the need for a secure yet flexible way to integrate third-party JavaScript apps, we propose SandTrap, a novel JavaScript monitor that securely combines the Node.js vm module with fully structural proxy-based two-sided membranes to enforce fine-grained access control policies. To aid developers, SandTrap includes a policy generation mechanism. We instantiate SandTrap to IFTTT, Zapier, and Node-RED and illustrate on a set of benchmarks how SandTrap enforces a variety of policies while incurring a tolerable runtime overhead.

[Paper] [Full version] [Source code] [Presentation]