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Jul 17, 2013

Ramping up ASP.NET session security

OWASP recently released their Top Ten 2013 list of web application vulnerabilities. If you compare the list to the 2010 version you’ll see that Broken Authentication and Session Management has moved up to second place, pushing Cross Site Scripting (XSS) down to third place. Apparently authentication and session related issues are moving up in the world!

It’s not that surprising, there’s so many things that can go wrong. It seems that authentication and session management is so difficult to get right that even the big players occasionally get in trouble. I’ve blogged earlier about a Google 2-step verification vulnerability I discovered back when they were rolling out the system (yes, I admit it took more patience than effort to find that one), and if you do a Google search for "authentication flaw" you’ll get plenty of hits for many high profile sites. This indicates that we need to tighten up our authentication and session management. In this post we’ll focus on some issues related to session management, and at the end I have an announcement to make!

OWASP has a great guide on what you should test for in your session management. If you’re familiar with the Microsoft SDL you’ve probably noticed that it also has a set of recommendations for session management. We’ll dig into some of the details of ASP.NET session management to see how it fares against some of these requirements.

First things first, we’ll need to set the scene with an overview of how ASP.NET handles identities and sessions and then we’ll return to the requirements.

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