CRV2 FrameworkSpecIssuesASPNetConfigs

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Securing resources in ASP.NET applications is a combination of configuration settings in the Web.config file but also, its important to remember that the IIS configurations play also a big part on this. It's an integrated approach which provides a total framework of security. The following highlights the most important aspects of ASP.NET configuration settings within the web.config file. For a total overview see chapter ASP.NET security (

Secure Configuration Values

Sensitive Information saved in config files should be encrypted. Encryption keys stored in the machineKey element for example or connectionstrings with username and passwords to login to database.

Lock ASP.NET Configuration settings

You can lock configuration settings in ASP.NET configuration files (Web.config files) by adding an allowOverride attribute to a location element

Configure directories using Location Settings

Through the <location> element you can establish settings for specific folders and files. The Path attribute is used to specify the file or subdirectory. This is done in the Web.config file example:

<location path="." >
   <section1 .../>
   <section2 ... />
 <location path="Default Web Site" >
   <section1 … />
   <section2 … />
 <location path="Default Web Site/MyApplication/Admin/xyz.html" >
   <section1 ... />
   <section2 ... />

Configure exceptions for Error Code handling

Showing and handling the correct error code when a user sends a bad request or invalid parameters is an important configuration subject. Logging these errors are also an excellent help when analyzing potential attacks to the application.

It is possible to configure these errors in the code or in the Web.Config file

The HttpException method Describes an exception that occurred during the processing of HTTP requests.For example:

if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(Request["id"]))
    throw new HttpException(400, "Bad request");

or in the Web.config file:

   <customErrors mode="On" defaultRedirect="ErrorPage.html" 
     <error statusCode="400" redirect="BadRequest.html" />
     <error statusCode="404" redirect="FileNotFound.html" />

Input validation

Anything coming from external sources can be consider as input in a web application. Not only the user inserting data through a web form, but also data retrieved from a web service or database, also headers sent from the browsers fall under this concept. A way of defining when input is safe can be done through outlining a trust boundary.

Defining what is known as trust boundary can help us to visualize all possible untrusted inputs. One of those are user input.ASP.NET has different types of validations depending on the level of control to be applied. By default, web pages code is validated against malicious users. The following is a list types of validations used (MSDN, 2013):

Type of validation Control to use Description
Required entry RequiredFieldValidator Ensures that the user does not skip an entry.
Comparison to a value CompareValidator Compares a user's entry against a constant value, against the value of another control (using a comparison operator such as less than, equal, or greater than), or for a specific data type.
Range checking RangeValidator Checks that a user's entry is between specified lower and upper boundaries. You can check ranges within pairs of numbers, alphabetic characters, and dates.
Pattern matching RegularExpressionValidator Checks that the entry matches a pattern defined by a regular expression. This type of validation enables you to check for predictable sequences of characters, such as those in e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, postal codes, and so on.
User-defined CustomValidator Checks the user's entry using validation logic that you write yourself. This type of validation enables you to check for values derived at run time.


MSDN, 2013 "Securing ASP.NET Configurations" available at (Last Viewed, 25th July 2013)