Monday, March 21, 2005

Web application defense at the gates – Leveraging IHttpModule (Whitepaper)

Web applications are vulnerable to many attacks, mainly due to poor input validation at the source code level. Firewalls can block access to ports but once a web application goes live and TCP ports 80 and 443 are accessible, the web application can be an easy prey for attackers. HTTP traffic is legitimate traffic for web applications; all the more reason to include application-level content-filtering over unencrypted and encrypted communication channels. Application-level content filtering is possible to some extent but may not work over HTTPS (port 443). The only way to provide a strong defense is by applying powerful content-filtering at the application-level for both TCP port 80 and TCP port 443.

The .Net framework with ASP.NET provides the IHttpModule interface access to HTTP pipes - the lowest of programming layers - before an incoming HTTP request hits the web application. This can provide defense at the gates. In this paper, we look at how one can build this sort of defense in all three aspects - coding, deployment and configuration.
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