Reviewing Code for Session Integrity issues

Revision as of 06:47, 23 October 2007 by EoinKeary (talk | contribs) (How to locate the potentially vulnerable code)

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OWASP Code Review Guide Table of Contents


How to locate the potentially vulnerable code

If the cookie object is being set with various attributes apatrt from the session ID check the the cookie is set only to transmitt over HTTPS/SSL. In java this is perfromed by the method

cookie.setSecure() (Java) = secure; .NET 

HTTP Only Cookie

This is adhered to in IE6 and above... HTTP Only cookie is meant to provide protection agains XSS by not letting client side script accessing the cookie. Its a step in the right direction but not a silver bullet.

cookie.HttpOnly = true (C#)

Here cookie should only be accessable via ASP.NET

Limiting Cookie Domain

Ensure cookies are limitead to a domain such as Therefore the cookie is associated to If the cookie is associated iwth other domains the following code performs this:

Response.Cookies("domain").Domain = " (VB)
Response.Cookies["domain"].Domain = ""; (C#)

During the review if the cookie is assigned to more than one domain make note of it and query why this is the case.

Displaying Data to user from Cookie

Make sure that data being displayed to a user from a cookie is HTML encoded. This mitigates some forms of Cross Site Scripting.

LabelX.Text = Server.HtmlEncode(Request.Cookies["userName"].Value); (C#)

Session Tracking/Management Techniques

HTML Hidden Field

The HTML Hidden field could be used to perform session tracking. Upon each HTTP POST request the hidden field is passed to the server identifying the user. It would be in the form of

<INPUT TYPE="hidden" NAME="user"VALUE="User001928394857738000094857hfduekjkksowie039848jej393"> 

Server-side code is used to perfrom validation on the VALUE in order to ensure the used is valid. This approach can only be used for POST/Form requests.

URL Rewriting

URL rewriting approaches session tracking by appending a unique id pertaining to the user at the end of the URL.

<A HREF="/smackmenow.htm?user=User001928394857738000094857hfduekjkksowie039848jej393">Click Here</A> 


Cookies were invented by netscape as a way of keeping state when using the stateless protocol HTTP. Commonly used for maintaining state but must be careful not to store any sensitive information in a cookie.

Persistant Cookies

State information and cookies

Leading Practice Patterns for Session Management/Integrity

HTTPOnly Cookie: Prevents cookie access via client side script. Not all browsers support such a directive.

Valid Session checking:

Upon any HTTP request the framework should check if the user pertaining to the HTTP request (vis session ID) is valid.

Successful Authentication:

Upon a successful login the user should be issued a new session identifier. The old session Id should be invalidated. This prevents session fixation attacks and the same browser also sharing the same session ID in a multi user environment. SOme times the session Id is per browser and the session remains valid while the browser is alive.

Logout: This also leads to the idea of why a logout button is so important. The logout button should invalidate the users session Id when it is selected.

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