O'Reilly logo

The Web Application Hacker's Handbook: Finding and Exploiting Security Flaws, 2nd Edition by Marcus Pinto, Dafydd Stuttard

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

CHAPTER 7

Attacking Session Management

The session management mechanism is a fundamental security component in the majority of web applications. It is what enables the application to uniquely identify a given user across a number of different requests and to handle the data that it accumulates about the state of that user's interaction with the application. Where an application implements login functionality, session management is of particular importance, because it is what enables the application to persist its assurance of any given user's identity beyond the request in which he supplies his credentials.

Because of the key role played by session management mechanisms, they are a prime target for malicious attacks against the application. If an attacker can break an application's session management, she can effectively bypass its authentication controls and masquerade as other application users without knowing their credentials. If an attacker compromises an administrative user in this way, the attacker can own the entire application.

As with authentication mechanisms, a wide variety of defects can commonly be found in session management functions. In the most vulnerable cases, an attacker simply needs to increment the value of a token issued to him by the application to switch his context to that of a different user. In this situation, the application is wide open for anyone to access all areas. At the other end of the spectrum, an attacker may have to work extremely hard, deciphering ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required