Maintaining Session State in Java

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Example 911 For BEA WebLogic, to use a 128-bit session identi er, the weblogicxml con guration le should include a session-descriptor element named IDLength with a value of 25
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<session-descriptor> <session-param> <param-name>IDLength</param-name> <param-value>25</param-value> <!--Specified in characters--> </session-param> </session-descriptor>
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Static Analysis: Avoid Weak Session Identi ers
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Use static analysis to identify programs con gured to use weak session identi ers The following rule will ag session identi ers con gured to be less than 25 characters long in
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weblogicxml:
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Con guration rule:
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File Pattern: weblogicxml XPath Expression: /weblogic-web-app/session-descriptor/ session-param[normalize-space(param-name)= 'IDLength' and param-value < 25
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Enforce a Session Idle Timeout and a Maximum Session Lifetime Limiting a session s lifetime is a trade-off between security and usability From a convenience standpoint, it would be best if sessions never had to be terminated But from a security standpoint, invalidating a user s session after a timeout period protects the user and the system in the following ways: It limits the period of exposure for users who fail to invalidate their session by logging out It reduces the average number of valid session identi ers available for an attacker to guess It makes it impossible for an attacker to obtain a valid session identi er and then keep it alive inde nitely
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Session Idle Timeout Be consistent across applications so that people in your organization know how to set the parameters correctly and so that your users understand what to expect For any container that implements the Servlet speci cation, you can con gure the session timeout in webxml like this:
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<session-con g> <!-- argument speci es timeout in minutes --> <session-timeout>30</session-timeout> </session-config>
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You can also set the session timeout on an individual session using the setMaxInactiveInterval() method:
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// Argument specifies idle timeout in seconds sessionsetMaxInactiveInterval(1800);
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Maximum Session Lifetime The Servlet speci cation does not mandate a mechanism for setting a maximum session lifetime, and not all Servlet containers implement a proprietary mechanism You can implement your own session lifetime limiter as a Servlet lter The doFilter() method in Example 912 stashes the current time in a session the rst time a request is made using the session If the session is still in use after the maximum session lifetime, the lter invalidates the session
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Example 912 This Servlet lter invalidates a session after a maximum session lifetime
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public void doFilter(ServletRequest request, ServletResponse response, FilterChain chain) throws IOException, ServletException { if (request instanceof HttpServletRequest) { HttpServletRequest hres = (HttpServletRequest) request; HttpSession sess = hresgetSession(false); if (sess != null) { long now = SystemcurrentTimeMillis(); long then = sessgetCreationTime(); if ((now - then) > MAX_SESSION_LIFETIME) { sessinvalidate();
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} chaindoFilter(request, response); }
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Static Analysis: Ensure Users Can Log Out
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Include a logout link that allows users to invalidate their HTTP sessions Allowing users to terminate their own session protects both the user and the system in the following ways: A user at a public terminal might have no other way to prevent the next person at the terminal from accessing their account By terminating the session, the user protects his account even if an attacker subsequently takes control of the client computer By eliminating sessions that are not being used, the server reduces the average number of valid session identi ers available for an attacker to guess The code behind a logout link might look something like this:
requestgetSession(true)invalidate();
In applications that use the Java HttpSession object for session management, use static analysis to determine whether the application calls invalidate() on the session Manually audit calls to invalidate() to determine whether users can invalidate their sessions by logging out If users cannot log out, the program does not provide its users the right tools to protect their sessions The following rule identifies all calls to HttpSessioninvalidate():
Structural rule:
FunctionCall fc: (fcfunction is [name == "invalidate" and enclosingClasssupers contains [Class: name == "javaxhttpservletHttpSession"]])
Begin a New Session upon Authentication Always generate a new session when a user authenticates, even if an existing session identi er is already associated with the user If session identifiers are sufficiently long and sufficiently random, guessing a session identifier is an impractical avenue of attack But if the