Sign up for Sitecore Security Notifications

I was asked the other day, where do you sign up for Sitecore’s security notifications? Well, I get them – but I don’t think I ever did. I suspect it was just part of doing their developer’s course.

However, you can apparently do this here:

I’ve not tried it, though.

Sign up for Sitecore Security Notifications

Sitecore Permissions

Sitecore permissions are always a bit of a pain to figure out. You’ve got the question of inheritance of rights from parent nodes, and how role rights conflicts are resolved.

Well, these two links are particularly useful, I found:

There’s quite a lot of reading there, but it’s good content. The easiest way I’ve found for considering permissions is:

Unspecified (effectively no-access) is beaten by Inherited rules (variable) is beaten by Allowed (has access) which is beaten by Deny (No access).

In other words, an explicit Deny will block access to a user.

If there is a conflict between explicitly assigned roles, Deny wins.

If rights are assigned directly to a user (rather than a role) they win – though you shouldn’t be assigning rights directly to users. It’s unmanagable in the long term.

Simple, right?


Sitecore Permissions

Secure your Sitecore Cookies

So a Sitecore site I’ve been working on recently underwent a penetration test, which turned up an interesting item. The ASP.NET_SessionId and SC_ANALYTICS_GLOBAL_COOKIE cookies aren’t set with the ‘Secure’ flag.  Further, my own checking showed that the .ASPXAUTH token was also set without the ‘Secure’ flag.

As the entire site is only served over HTTPS, this seems to be a bit remiss.

Fortunately, there are a couple of easy fixes to this that can be set in the Web.config

Under <System.Web> and <httpCookies> set requireSSL:

<httpCookies requireSSL="true" />

And in <forms> set requireSSL too.

<forms name=".ASPXAUTH" cookieless="UseCookies" requireSSL="true" />

This latter one is needed for the .ASPXAUTH cookie, but that seems to do it.

Don’t forget to set the HTTPOnly flag as appropriate for your cookies too!

Secure your Sitecore Cookies

Awkward Page Request Validation in Sitecore

I was configuring a new Sitecore 8.1 instance. It’s a vanilla, straight-off-the-installer instance, and yet I noticed that the node’s request validation was off:

<pages validateRequest="false">

This did, at least, come with a comment above it:

If requestValidationMode attribute of httRuntime node is set to 2.0, Sitecore requires this setting to be set to “false” for Sitecore client to work and it shouldn’t be changed. You can however set ValidateRequest attribute in the @Page directive to “true” for your layout .aspx files.

This is bonkers. The default configuration for this site is to remove request validation on my brand new Sitecore instance on the off-chance I should want to configure it to use an older, non-default requestValidationMode. Instead, I should stumble across this comment in the web.config file and add the appropriate attribute to all the layouts of my solution. And someone thought that this was a good idea?

Even if I were upgrading and I did rely on the httpRuntime requestValidationMode being 2.0, I would prefer that this was set to true, with instructions for how I should handle it in the case of an upgrade.

Crazy. One to be aware of.

Awkward Page Request Validation in Sitecore

Disable trace.axd

This is annoying misconfiguration I’ve come across a few times – tracing has been enabled on production systems.

Having tracing enabled allows an attacker to view the last 50 web requests made to the server, including information like Session ID values and the physical path to the requested files.


One can easily turn this off, though, by setting the <trace> node of web.config

<trace enabled="false"...

However, you can do a bit more than that. I believe that this problem occurred on live sites because configuration files were promoted from development to production. To this end, you can set localOnly="true" – this means that trace is only available on the local developer’s machine. This doesn’t substitute for disabling trace, but it does help reduce that risk.

Disable trace.axd

Secure your ASP.NET Viewstate

This is just a short reminder for myself – when configuring ASP.NET websites, don’t forget to Secure the viewstate. If you don’t, then the ViewState is just base64 encoded – and can be decoded.

Securing this involves:

  • Setting a machine key in the web.config. In a load balanced environment, this machine key should be the same on all front-end servers; it’s used in encryption and decryption of the viewstate, and so has to be the same on all webservers. If it is not, and a user’s session skips to another server, then decryption of the viewstate will fail.
  • Make sure the the validation algorithm is set to ‘AES’
  • Make sure that the ‘decryption’ algorithm is set to auto.

That seems to be it. I did see instructions that said that I should:

  • On the <pages> node, add the attribute viewStateEncryptionMode=”Always”

but I didn’t seem to have to do this. Actually, in the end I did have to set this too.

Edit: How to generate your machineKey easily





Secure your ASP.NET Viewstate