Restrict Ethereum Provider API Injection

Wallet guidance for restricting Ethereum Provider API access to secure contexts for improved privacy and security for wallet users.
StagnantStandards Track: Interface
Created: 2022-09-05
Requires: EIP-1193
Yan Zhu (@diracdeltas), Brian R. Bondy (@bbondy), Andrea Brancaleoni (@thypon), Kyle Den Hartog (@kdenhartog)
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1 min read

The EIP-5593 proposal aims to restrict the injection of Ethereum Provider APIs, which are used to interact with smart contracts, in order to improve security. The proposal suggests implementing a trust-minimized upgradeability proxy, which would allow for upgrades to smart contracts without compromising security. The proxy would have a time delay before an actual upgrade, to prevent abuse, and users would need to ensure that the proxy they interact with is trustworthy and represents an exact copy of the code. The proposal acknowledges that some complex systems may require upgrades and that decentralized governance can be used for upgrade management. However, the use of a trust-minimized proxy is seen as a critically important option for smart contract development today. The proposal also references other EIPs related to contract code size limits and multi-injected provider discovery.

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Historically the web platform has had a notion of “powerful” APIs like those defined in W3C's Geolocation specification and W3C's Mediastreams specification, which are subject to additional security restrictions such as those defined by W3C's secure contexts specification. Since the Ethereum Provider APIs allow dApp websites to request access to sensitive user data and to request use of user funds, new Ethereum Provider APIs generally should align to the security considerations defined by W3C's Secure Context specification in order to better protect the users data and users funds managed via the web.

Author's Note

Unfortunately, because of a difference in interpretations by EIP editors of RFC 2119 terminology around linking in EIP-1, the authors cannot directly link to other W3C specifications which this EIP builds upon. The author's attempted to provide as much context as possible within the text while complying with the editor bot in order to get this merged. If this policy is updated or further clarified before this EIP reaches final call in the future this EIP will be updated with links.


Wallets are oftentimes maintaining security and safety of users' funds that can be equivalent to large portions of money. For this reason, it's a good idea to restrict access to the Ethereum Provider APIs to align it with other powerful APIs on the web platform. This will assist in reducing the surface area that attacks can be conducted to access users funds or data. Additionally, by adding in restrictions we're reducing the surface area that malicious web pages could fingerprint the user via the Ethereum Provider APIs providing some additional privacy benefits. An example of a specific attack that's avoided by this is one where a malicious advertisement is loaded on a legitimate dApp that attempts to interact with a users wallet to maliciously request the user to access funds. With this EIP implemented the advertisement frame would be considered a third-party iframe and therefore would not have the Ethereum Provider API injected into it's sub frame because it's not a secure context.


The key words “MUST”, “MUST NOT”, “REQUIRED”, “SHALL”, “SHALL NOT”, “SHOULD”, “SHOULD NOT”, “RECOMMENDED”, “MAY”, and “OPTIONAL” in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.

Restrictions for providers

The provider objects, e.g. window.ethereum, are expected to only inject the Ethereum Provider APIs in secure context when conforming with this specification. The following restrictions are REQUIRED for conformant wallets:

  • Provider objects MAY be accessible in private (incognito) windows.
  • The origin MUST be a "potentially trustworthy origin" (defined in W3C's Secure Contexts specification in section 3.1) to have access to window.ethereum. This can be checked using window.isSecureContext, including inside iframes.
    • Secure contexts include sites that are served from HTTPS but also HTTP localhost.
    • The User Agent implementation MAY also support configured [potentially trustworthy origins] that would normally not be considered trustworthy if the user configures their User Agent to do so. See section 7.2 titled "Development Environments" of W3C's Secure Contexts specification for additional details. For example, in Chromium based User Agents this is done via the chrome://flags/#unsafely-treat-insecure-origin-as-secure flag.
  • By default the Ethereum Provider APIs MUST NOT be exposed to third-party iframes.
  • window.ethereum MUST be undefined in an iframe where window.isSecureContext returns false in that iframe.
  • If the iframe is a third party to the top-level secure origin, it SHOULD be blocked.
  • If the iframe is first-party to the top-level origin AND the sandbox attribute is set on the iframe, the provider object MUST be blocked. If the sandbox attribute is set to sandbox="allow-same-origin" it MUST be injected for a first party frame.
    • Note "allow-same-origin" does nothing if the iframe is third-party. The case of the third party iframe is dictated by the usage of the allow attribute and the Permissions API as defined in the rule above.


By limiting the capabilities of where the Ethereum Provider APIs are being injected we can reduce the surface area of where attacks can be executed. Given the sensitivity of data that's passed to the Ethereum Provider APIs some basic levels of authentication and confidentiality should be met in order to ensure that request data is not being intercepted or tampered with. While there have been attempts to limit request access via the wallet interface itself, there have not been limitations that have been set to where these Ethereum Provider APIs are expected to be or not be injected. Since the secure contexts web platform API is a well developed boundary that's been recommended by W3C and the fact that the Ethereum Provider APIs are extending the traditional web platform APIs, no other alternative solutions have been considered in order to extend current established prior art.

Backwards Compatibility

Wallet extensions SHOULD consider adding a "developer mode" toggle via a UX so that dApp developers have the capability to disable the insecure context (http) check for the http://localhost:<any-port> origin only in the event that localhost does not return true for secure context. See section 5.2 of W3C's Secure Context specification for more details. This will allow dApp developers to be able to continue to host dApps on the localhost origin if a User Agent has chosen to not already consider localhost a secure context. All major User Agent implementations tested do consider localhost a secure context already. This toggle MUST be set to disabled by default.

Test Cases

Required Test Cases

  • Top level http://a.com -> blocked (insecure/top level)
  • Top level https://a.com -> allowed
  • Top level https://a.com with <iframe src="http://a.com/"> -> blocked (insecure first party iframe)
  • Top level http://a.com with <iframe src="https://a.com/"> -> blocked (insecure top level window)
  • Top level https://a.com with <iframe src="https://a.com"> -> allowed
  • Top level https://a.com with <iframe src="https://b.com"> -> blocked (third-party iframe without sufficient privileges)
  • Top level https://b.com with <iframe src="http://a.com/"> with <iframe src="https://b.com"> -> blocked (insecure iframe)
  • Top level https://b.com with <iframe src="https://a.com"> with <iframe src="https://b.com"> -> blocked (third-party iframe without sufficient privileges)
  • Top level https://a.com with <iframe src="https://sub.a.com"> -> blocked (third-party iframe without sufficient privileges)
  • Top level https://a.com with <iframe src="https://a.com" sandbox> -> blocked (sandbox attribuute without "allow-same-origin")
  • Top level https://a.com with <iframe src="https://a.com" sandbox="allow-same-origin allow-scripts"> -> allowed (Note this case is discouraged by User Agent implementer's such as Mozilla's MDN documents because it’d allow the iframe to remove its own sandbox attribute. See the sandbox attribute section of the iframes document in MDN for more details.)
  • Top level data://foo with <iframe src="data://bar"> -> blocked (insecure top level scheme)
  • Top level file://foo with <iframe src="file://bar"> -> blocked (third-party iframe)
  • Top level https://a.com with <iframe src="https://b.com" sandbox="allow-same-origin allow-scripts"> -> blocked (third-party iframe without sufficient privileges)

Security Considerations

User Enables Developer Mode

Oftentimes developers require the ability to develop dApps locally in order to test their website and develop while hosting their dApp on http://localhost. In this case localhost would be blocked and compatibility issues would arise when developing a dApp locally. In order to increase compatibility for dApp developers a toggle to disable the check for the localhost can be considered. If this were to be extended beyond the localhost origin it could be used as a means to convince users to enable developer mode in order to subvert the guards put in place by this EIP. Therefore, implementations should be cautious when extending this developer toggle beyond the scope of the localhost origin.

Privacy Considerations

Web3 Provider Fingerprinting

Due to the nature of how the provider object is injected by default into most webpages, there's a risk that a malicious web page could utilize the provider object to fingerprint the user more precisely as a Web3 user. Implementers of this EIP are expected to consider the risks of injecting the Ethereum provider APIs into pages by default in order to consider what privacy characteristics they wish to enable for their users.

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