“Referrer-Policy” HTTP Header

A relatively new HTTP Header that is supported by most modern browsers (except MSIE) is the “Referrer-Policy” header. There have been previous attempts to implement similar protections through use of the ‘rel’ (or ‘rev’) attributes on links to external websites. The latest approach takes a different approach and prevents leaking of internal URLs, and in some cases parameters, to external websites. This is important from a security perspective as you might maintain some sensitive information in your page urls, that would otherwise be inadvertently shared with an external website.

Clearly, you’ll need to determine your own level of security based upon your needs. Example: ‘no-referrer’ would be the most strict and would prevent the browser from sending the ‘Referer'(sic) header even to your own websites pages.

Example header values:

Referrer-Policy: no-referrer
Referrer-Policy: no-referrer-when-downgrade
Referrer-Policy: origin
Referrer-Policy: origin-when-cross-origin
Referrer-Policy: same-origin
Referrer-Policy: strict-origin
Referrer-Policy: strict-origin-when-cross-origin
Referrer-Policy: unsafe-url

Implementation can be accomplished in many ways, the most simple being and addition to your HTTP server configuration similar to the one shown below for Apache 2.x:

Header always set Referrer-Policy strict-origin


Content-Security-Policy: upgrade-insecure-requests;

As the web has been shifting to HTTPS for security and performance reasons, there are many methods to migrate users. One simple method is via the use of the Content-Security Header.

Content-Security-Policy: upgrade-insecure-requests;

Most modern browsers, except MSIE, currently support this approach.
– Chrome 43+


Website testing with SortSite

SortSite is a popular desktop software for testing of web applications for broken links, browser compatibility, accessibility and common spelling errors. It is also available as a web application known as “OnDemand“.

You can generate a free sample test of your website at:


HTML4 script defer

This HTML4 attribute was intended to defer/delay execution of specific javascript code until after the page is rendered. In theory, this makes the website “appear” faster as the functions relevant to the User-Interface can be executed before other “background” processes that would otherwise block the screen from displaying.

<script defer="defer" src="example.js"></script>

NOTE: Do not use defer for external scripts that might depend on each other if you need to support MSIE9 and earlier.


HTML5 script async

The HTML5 “async” attribute simplifies page-load performance improvements and dynamic script loading, it can be useful in modern web browsers.

Simply put, this tag allows for the browser to asynchronously load and execute external javascript files in a parallel vs. serial manner. Unfortunately while most modern browser support it, MSIE versions prior to MSIE10+ are problematic.

<script src="example.js" async="async"></script>

This is particularly useful when using third-party javascript libraries and utilities that have no dependeny relationships with your existing website javascript.


“msapplication-config” and browserconfig.xml

Windows-8/MSIE-11 introduced Tiles, as such server administrators may have started seeing HTTP 404 errors in their server logs as it attempts to look for a “browserconfig.xml” file at the root of a website domain. If you are inclined to use this file, you should definitely look into the documentation for how to best make use of it. Others may just wish to prevent the error from making “noise” in their log files.

To remove the error, add the following to your pages; alternately you COULD define the URL of your file as the ‘content’ attribute:

<meta name="msapplication-config" content="none" />

You can alternately place an empty /browserconfig.xml on your web server for each domain.

An common example of how to use this file is below:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<square70x70logo src="/mstile-70x70.png"/>
<square150x150logo src="/mstile-150x150.png"/>
<wide310x150logo src="/mstile-310x150.png"/>
<square310x310logo src="/mstile-310x310.png"/>
<TileImage src="/mstile-150x150.png" />



Similar to ‘crossdomain.xml’, Silverlight has some security features, this too is often noticeable by large number of HTTP 404 errors for a file named ‘clientaccesspolicy.xml’ in my webserver logs.

The most simple solution to the 404’s that restricts Silverlight is to add an empty file at the root of your websites.


Skype toolbar meta tag… preventing Skype from messing up your UI

I’ve previously documented the method used to prevent IOS devices from formatting numbers.

Users on other platforms, notably Windows, have Skype installed and it too can cause some headaches with your UI as it inserts elements to decorate phone numbers.

For users that have the Skype Toolbar enabled, the following META tag will prevent it from doing a lot of damage!



HTML cleartype meta tag?

This tag allows for activation of ClearType in Mobile IE for smoothing fonts.

<!--[if IEMobile]><meta http-equiv="cleartype" content="on" /><![endif]-->

NOTE: Future use of this approach is questionable, as MSIE10 dropped support of conditional comments, and HTML5 validators (in general) do not “like” the http-equiv values as they are not standardized


HTC/.htc files

What is it? Internet Explorer 5-9 introduced behaviors. Behaviors are a way to add behaviors to XML (or HTML) elements with the use of CSS styles.

Why avoid it? The behavior attribute is only supported by Internet Explorer.

What to use instead? Use JavaScript and XML DOM (or HTML DOM) instead

MSIE 5-9 support a scripting (VBScript/JScript) technology called HTML Components (HTCs) to aid in DHTML behaviors. Support was dropped in MSIE 10, you will have to force the browser into MSIE 9 compatibility to use these.

Mozilla? it has a similar proprietary implementation.

Included CSS style:

<style type="text/css">
h1 { behavior: url(example.htc) }

Inline CSS style:

<p style="behavior:url(hilite.htc)">Hello World</p>

Apache MIME Type:

AddType text/x-component .htc