Broken Authentication and Session Management Vulnerability is one the Top 10 Owasp vulnerabilities. Broken authentication and Session Management this year jumps to #2 in the list. Normally developers doesn’t concentrate much on How users session is being managed. This negligence results into inducing Broken Authentication and Session Management vulnerabilities in the web applications which is quite a bit hard for developers to detect by themselves.
User authentication on the web typically involves the use of a userid and password. Stronger methods of authentication are commercially available such as software and hardware based cryptographic tokens or biometrics, but such mechanisms are not present on most web applications. Web-based applications frequently use sessions to provide a friendly environment to their users. HTTP is a stateless protocol, which means that it provides no integrated way for a web server to maintain states throughout user’s subsequent requests. In order to overcome this problem, web servers – or sometimes web applications – implement various kinds of session management. The basic idea behind web session management is that the server generates a session ID at some early point in user interaction, sends this session ID to the user’s browser and makes sure that this same session ID will be sent back by the browser along with each subsequent request. Session IDs thereby become identification tokens for users, and servers can use them to maintain session data (e.g., variables) and create a session-like experience to the users.
There are three widely used methods for maintaining sessions in web environment: URL Parameters, Hidden form fields and cookies. Each of them has its own benefits and shortcomings, cookies have proven to be the most convenient and also the least insecure of the three. From security perspective, most known attacks against cookie-based session maintenance schemes can also be used against URL parameters or hidden form fields, while the reverse is not true. This makes cookies the best choice security-wise.
Very often, session IDs are not only identification tokens, but also authenticators. This means that upon login, users are authenticated based on their credentials (e.g., usernames/passwords or digital certificates) and issued session IDs that will effectively serve as temporary static passwords for accessing their sessions. This makes session IDs a very appealing target for hackers. In many cases, an hacker who manages to obtain a valid Session ID of user’s session can use it to directly enter that session – often without arising user’s suspicion. Interestingly, most cross-site scripting exploits focus on obtaining the session ID stored in browser’s cookie storage. This class of attacks, where the attacker gains access to the user’s session by obtaining his session ID, is called session hijacking.
Broken Authentication and Session Management Attacks which are quite common among hackers are listed below:
1. Brute Force Attacks
2. Session Spotting Attacks
3. Replay Attack
4. Session Fixation Attack
5. Session Hijacking
6. Session Expiration Attack
We will discuss these attacks in our later tutorials one by one and methods to prevent these attacks. So keep connected and Keep Learning.