[WEB SECURITY] tying sessions to IP addresses

Ryan Barnett rcbarnett at gmail.com
Fri Jun 9 11:46:03 EDT 2006

The best approach is to include some sort of a hashed cookie value that
includes; the SesisonID + Section of IP Network Block (192.168.*.*) +
User-Agent String.

This data "should" be static for the duration of the session.  The network
block section should be enough of cursory check to catch if someone on a
totally different network is trying to use the cookie while still allowing
access to the valid user while sitting behind load-balanced proxies.
Similarly, the user-agent string should not be dynamic/changing during the
course of a session.  At least I have never seen this with my apps.  Has
anyone seen this before?  If so, what was the cause?

If anything changes with these 3 attributes, then they need to

Ryan C. Barnett
Web Application Security Consortium (WASC) Member
CIS Apache Benchmark Project Lead
SANS Instructor: Securing Apache
Author: Preventing Web Attacks with Apache

On 6/9/06, Brian Eaton <eaton.lists at gmail.com> wrote:
> Does anyone have some experience with systems that defend against
> theft of session cookies by verifying that the IP address that uses a
> session is the same one that initiated the session?
> These are the problems with the technique that I'm aware of.
> - many clients can share a single IP address, e.g. a proxy.  (For
> example: http://webmaster.info.aol.com/proxyinfo.html)
> - a single client can change an IP address.  (For example:
> http://vegan.net/lb/archive/08-2004/0109.html)
> - a vulnerability that allows cookie theft can frequently be used for
> attacks other than cookie theft, such as forcing the victim's browser
> to perform some task directly.  (For example:
> http://www.whitehatsec.com/presentations/phishing_superbait.pdf)
> Am I leaving off any important limitations to the technique?  Are the
> limitations I've listed significant problems?
> If you're going to deal with the changing IP address problem, that
> implies some management overhead to identify and eliminate false
> positives where users are prematurely logged out because they happened
> to switch IP addresses.  How much of a problem does this management
> overhead cause?
> It seems like the HttpOnly Microsoft set-cookie extension provides
> most (though not all) of the same benefits as tying sessions to IP
> addresses, while being signficantly easier to implement and manage.
> Any thoughts on that?
> Regards.
> Brian
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