Thunderbird's Security Architecture

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Thunderbird's Security Architecture

Mehdi Mirakhorli
Hi All,

We are studying vulnerabilities across different releases of Thunderbird's
project. The goal of the study is to investigate the root cause of CVEs and
study those rooted in the security architecture of the project. We are
looking at both flaws in the design (if any) and degradation of design in
source code (violation of design decisions due coding mistakes).

At this step, we would like to know if we have correctly extracted the list
of security mechanisms (tactics/patterns)  used in Thunderbird's project.

My Ph.D. student has created a draft for the list of security tactics used
in Thunderbird's project. I appreciate it if you could take the time and
review it and let us know your feedback. Are there any other high-level
decision made by the team which is missing?





*Resist Attacks*

Authenticate Actors

Authenticate Thunderbird's user accounts and validates certificates.

*Authenticators, Ceritificate Verifier, LDAP Address Book*

Authorize Actors

It implements authorization to be able to upload large email attachments to
third-party cloud storage providers as well as  to access messages from
external email servers.

*Filelink Providers, OAuth Subsystem (v1.0 and 2.0)*

Encrypt Data

Variety of cryptographic algorithms are used to encrypt the communicated

*Network Security Services (NSS)*

*React *

Inform Actors

It warns the user that the received email may be a scam/spam

*Phishing Detector / Safe Browsing, Spam Filter*

*Detect Attacks*

Detect Intrusion

Detects potential email scams (detects and protects from phishing attacks)

*Phishing Detector, Safe Browsing, Spam Filter*

Verify Message Integrity

Storage of SafeBrowsing protocol data implements integrity check through

*URL Classifier, PNG encoder/decoder*

Manage User Sessions

Manages sessions related to email accounts

*Mail Session*

*Recover From Attacks*


It implements Auditing to comply with the FIPS 140-2 Level 2, that requires
auditing of operation related to usage of cryptographic functions.

*NSS Softoken*


Mehdi Mirakhorli
Assistant Professor
Department of Software Engineering
Rochester Institute of Technology
134 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, NY 14623-5608
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