Friday, 13 March 2015

ASP.NET Tips #27 - Protect from Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Attack

Cross-Site Scripting attacks are a type of injection problem, in which malicious scripts are injected into the otherwise benign and trusted web sites. Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks occur when an attacker uses a web application to send malicious code, generally in the form of a browser side script, to a different end user. Flaws that allow these attacks to succeed are quite widespread and occur anywhere a web application uses input from a user in the output it generates without validating or encoding it.

An attacker can use XSS to send a malicious script to an unsuspecting user. The end user's browser has no way to know that the script should not be trusted, and will execute the script. Because it thinks the script came from a trusted source, the malicious script can access any cookies, session tokens, or other sensitive information retained by your browser and used with that site. These scripts can even rewrite the content of the HTML page.

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks occur when:

  • Data enters a Web application through an untrusted source, most frequently a web request.
  • The data is included in dynamic content that is sent to a web user without being validated for malicious code.

The malicious content sent to the web browser often takes the form of a segment of JavaScript, but may also include HTML, Flash or any other type of code that the browser may execute. The variety of attacks based on XSS is almost limitless, but they commonly include transmitting private data like cookies or other session information to the attacker, redirecting the victim to web content controlled by the attacker, or performing other malicious operations on the user's machine under the guise of the vulnerable site.

Microsoft AntiXSS Library

Due to the popularity of the Microsoft AntiXSS Library, ASP.NET 4.5 now incorporates core encoding routines from version 4.0 of that library.

The encoding routines are implemented by the AntiXssEncoder type in the new System.Web.Security.AntiXss namespace. You can use the AntiXssEncoder type directly by calling any of the static encoding methods that are implemented in the type. However, the easiest approach for using the new anti-XSS routines is to configure an ASP.NET application to use the AntiXssEncoder class by default. To do this, add the following attribute to the Web.config file:

  <pages validateRequest="true" />
  <httpRuntime targetFramework="4.5" requestValidationMode="4.5" encoderType="System.Web.Security.AntiXss.AntiXssEncoder,System.Web, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a" />

When the encoderType attribute is set to use the AntiXssEncoder type, all output encoding in ASP.NET automatically uses the new encoding routines.

These are the portions of the external AntiXSS library that have been incorporated into ASP.NET 4.5:

  • HtmlEncode, HtmlFormUrlEncode, and HtmlAttributeEncode
  • XmlAttributeEncode and XmlEncode
  • UrlEncode and UrlPathEncode (new)
  • CssEncode

HTML Encoded Data-Binding Expressions

You can now HTML-encode the result of data-binding expressions. Add a colon (:) to the end of the <%# prefix that marks the data-binding expression:

   <asp:TemplateField HeaderText="Name">
      <ItemTemplate><%#: Bind("FirstName") %></ItemTemplate>

For one-way data binding, you use Eval:

   <%#: Eval("FirstName") %>

For two-way data binding, you use Bind:

   <%#: Bind("FirstName") %>

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