Cookies COEN 351 E-commerce Security
Client / Session Identification • HTTP does not maintain state. • State Information can be passed using: • HTTP Headers • Client IP Address • HTTP User Login • FAT URLs • Cookies
Client / Session Identification:HTTP Header • HTTP Header fields: • “From” • User’s email address, request. • Could be used by all browsers, but are only used for web-bots gathering data. • “User-Agent” • User’s browser software, request. • “Referer” (Sic) • Page user came from by following link
Client / Session Identification HTTP Header • HTTP Header fields: • “Authorization” • User name and password • “Client-ip” • “X-Forwarded-For” • Client-ip • “Cookie”
Client / Session Identification • User-Agent • Gives the server information about the browser.
Client / Session Identification:HTTP Header • All contents of the header / URL can be easily forged. • Secure protocols need to use good encryption and a challenge / response scheme to avoid replay attacks.
Client / Session Identification • Client IP Address • Not part of the HTTP header • Available from the package • Easily spoofed • Changed by NATs and Proxies • Not secure for maintaining state
Client / Session Identification:HTTP Authentication • HTTP login based on WWW-Authenticate and Authorization headers. • Browser requests page with GET • Server answers with: 401 Login Required, WWW-authenticate: Basic realm=“joe” • Browser pop’s up login dialog that users fills out. • Browser resends GET request, adds Authorization: Basic am98re45 • Server fulfills request. • Browser now will resend stored user-name with every request.
Client / Session Identification:HTTP Authentication • HTTP Authentication Details • Realms allow the web-site to have many secure areas. • HTTP packs user-name and password together, separated by a colon and encodes them in Base 64 encoding. • HTTP allows authentication by proxies. • User goes to proxy site for authentication. • User-name and password are then used to go to the target sites.
Client / Session Identification:HTTP Authentication • HTTP Authentication Security Risks • Username and password are encoded, not encrypted. • Base 64 encoding and decoding tools are freely available for those that do not want to program them themselves. • Authentication information does not change between different requests. • Sniffer can replay! • Requesting unnecessary authentication leads to password sharing. • Basic authentication only authenticates the browser (user), not the server. • Impersonating websites could harvest passwords.
Client / Session Identification:Digest Authentication • HTTP Digest Authentication • A rarely used alternative that is more secure. • Prevents replay attacks by using nonces. • Encrypts passwords. • Optionally protects message integrity. • …
Client / Session Identification:Fat URL • Fat URL • Maintain state information in the URL • Server generates a session id. • Server adds session id to all URLs requested from the hyperlink.
Client / Session Identification:Fat URL • URLs can be easily faked. • FAT URLs need to be encrypted. • Website needs to do more processing for fat URLs. • Sharing URLs can lead to sharing authentication. • Caching no longer works. • Access is lost when user leaves the website temporarily.
Cookies • Cookies: • ASCI strings stored at the browser. • Submitted with each request to a target website.
Cookies • Cookies: • Session cookies • Stored only for the duration of a web-session. • Persistent cookies • Remain stored until they expire.
Cookies • Cookie-Jar • Client-side state storage • Netscape / Firefox store cookies in a single text file called cookies.txt • MS IE stores cookies in the cache.
Cookies • Server specifies optional domain. • Cookie gets sent with all requests to this domain. • Server specifies optional expiration date • Server can specify “secure” option: • Cookie is only sent when using SSL.
Cookies • Version 0 cookies (Netscape cookies) Set-Cookie: name=value [;expires=date] [;path=path] [;domain-name = value] [;secure] Set-Cookie: customer=Mary; expires Wednesday, 09-September-2006 24:00:01 GMT; domain=“scu.edu”; path=/soe; secure
Cookies • Version 1 cookies (RFC 296) • Less-used • Provides a number of extensions
Cookies • Privacy risk • Can be controlled by web-browser. • Used to track consumer behavior. • Harder, but possible to track an individual user.
Cookies • Security Risk • Users can change cookies before continuing to browse. • Counter-measure: strong encryption • Users could swap / steal cookies. • E.g. when used for authentication • Session Hijacking
Cookies • Session Hijacking • Counter measure: • Server needs to send a new cookie after every change in state and verify that a request comes with a valid cookie. • For example, by appending a MAC of session state to the cookie after each change of state.
Cookies • Poor practices: • Poor encryption of cookies. • Web-based email uses a cookie for authentication. • Cookie contains the user name encrypted by XOR-ing with a secret string. • Attacker can crack the cookie encryption by creating fake accounts. • Attacker can now craft a cookie useful for authentication. • Something similar happened to hotmail and yahoo early on.
Cookies • Poor practices: • Poor encryption of cookies. • Shopping cart encoded in cookie. • Cookie contained shopping cart details in plain text. • Attacker changed prices of items. • Relying on cookie for authentication • Cookie is sniffed from the net. • Cookie is stolen by impersonating a web-site.
Cookie Alternative: Web Bugs • Used to track viewers of web-sites. • HTML page contains a request to download a resource from a “counting” site. • The resource is so small that the viewer does not notice the download. • Counting site receives the request and adds IP address to its user database.
Cookie Alternative: Web Bugs • Examples: • Found by Privacy Foundation on Intuit’s home page for Quicken.com several years ago. <img src=“http://ad.doubleclick.net/ad/pixel./quicken/NEW” width=1 height=1 border=0> <IMG WIDTH=1 HEIGHT=1 border=0 SRC=“http://media.preferences.com/ping?ML_SD=IntuitTE_Intuit_1x1_RunOfSite_Any&db_acfr=4B31-C2FB-10E2&event=reghome&group=register&time=1922.214.171.124.5 6.37”>
Cookie Alternative: Web Bugs • Can be embedded in any html code. • User profiles written in html. • Email messages. • But only when read with a client that can display HTML messages and with a computer connected to the internet. • Usenet messages.