OWASP Periodic Table of Vulnerabilities - Implicit Logout

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Implicit Logout

Root Cause Summary

Web applications have no simple way to know when a user has browsed away from the site without explicitly logging out. In a shared computing environment, a user can easily access the previous users' sensitive data, even though those users might believe they had performed some action that was the equivalent of logging out (closing the browser, navigating to another site, clicking the home button, etc.).

Browser / Standards Solution

Long term: define a new session management scheme to replace cookies, which specifies how to handle implicit logout.

Short term: CSP should define a logout page or function which accepts the session token value as a POST parameter (to prevent CSRF logout). If the user no longer has any open pages on the site for any reason, the browser should submit the session token from the session cookie specified by the CSP as a cleanup activity. By default, the browser should also discard any session cookies whenever there are no longer any open pages on the corresponding site(s), as well.

Perimeter Solution

None

Generic Framework Solution

LONG TERM: Expose a handler for CSP policy.

SHORT TERM: Deploy JavaScript checks for onUnload handlers to distinguish between a user leaving the site, closing the browser, and navigating within the site. Automatically submit a logout form and delete session cookies when the user leaves the site or closes the browser window.

Custom Framework Solution

None

Custom Code Solution

None

Discussion / Controversy

JavaScript detection for onUnload events is extremely intrusive to implement for applications that aren't already using XHR for page updates instead of traditional navigation. Except for applications with very sensitive data that must be used in "kiosk" scenarios, it may be preferable to wait for browser changes to address this issue, and instead simply warn users not to use the application in a shared computing environment. Users and site owners may have different expectations about logout behavior, suggesting per-site policy configuration and possibly custom user agent settings.

References

Session Management Cheat Sheet
IETF HTTP Authentication drafts