Sunday, November 20, 2011

Silverlight, cross-domain issues, and self-signed certificates

I've been meaning to post this for quite sometime now as I haven't seen others with exactly the same issue. First, some context: when running a Silverlight application, it has some special security measures in place to avoid Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF). By default, Silverlight only allows site-of-origin communication - for instance, "" will be able to access "", but not "". In order to allow more than site-of-origin communication, a service owner must have a clientaccesspolicy.xml file in the root configuring which domains are allowed to access that service. If you're interested, this is explained in greater detail on this MSDN site.

The issue I ran into is that I had a Silverlight application and also a service, both running locally. My service had a proper clientaccesspolicy.xml configured to allow access from anywhere. And still my Silverlight would fail with the message:

"An error occurred while trying to make a request to URI 'https://MYDOMAIN/MYSERVICE.svc'. This could be due to attempting to access a service in a cross-domain way without a proper cross-domain policy in place, or a policy that is unsuitable for SOAP services. You may need to contact the owner of the service to publish a cross-domain policy file and to ensure it allows SOAP-related HTTP headers to be sent. This error may also be caused by using internal types in the web service proxy without using the InternalsVisibleToAttribute attribute. Please see the inner exception for more details. ---> System.Security.SecurityException ---> System.Security.SecurityException: Security error..."

After debugging the issue further, the problem was that my service had only a secure endpoint (SSL) and its certificate was self-signed (or did not match the domain, can't remember now). In that case, my Silverlight application would not download the service's clientaccesspolicy.xml and therefore declined access to it. Since I was running code within another larger application that I did not have control of, I did not investigate further whether one can configure to allow self-signed or mismatched certificates to be accepted during development. (In case you know if these are possible, please let me know!)

How did I get it solved? If you're running in Internet Explorer:

  1. Before loading your Silverlight application, first access the clientaccesspolicy.xml file. IE will alert about being self-signed or mismatched cert, but you can opt to proceed with it.
  2. In the same tab, access then your Silverlight application. It will be able to access your clientaccesspolicy.xml at that point, and the call will go through. 

Simple trick, and effective. I'd love to know if other browsers work the same. By the way, this was tested in Internet Explorer 9.
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