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From Stefano Mazzocchi <stef...@apache.org>
Subject Re: cocoon-view as possible security problem?
Date Fri, 21 Mar 2003 07:58:15 GMT
Tony Collen wrote:
> Browsing the livesites, on a whim I tried this URL:
> 
> http://dir.salon.com/?cocoon-view=content
> 
> and it worked!  Obviously someone deploying Cocoon should be aware that
> this view is "on" by default, and may reveal data in your page you might
> not want.  I have yet to see "bad" data get exposed, but there's always
> the possibility.

Well, the cocoon "view" was designed to be a standard way for external 
crawlers or spiders to gather 'semantically meaningful' data from URLs 
served by cocoon.

yes, there is the possibility of bad data exposed.

> Do we want the views turned off by default, and have a message in the
> sitemap about enabling the views?  Would it make more sense to have
> thename of the "cocoon-view" parameter be able to be changed via
> configuration?  Say I wanted the parameter to be my-view instead of
> cocoon-view.  Security through obscurity?

Ok, some thoughts:

1) security thru obscurity is bad habit and we should avoid this.

2) views do not cause a security problem for someone that *knows* what 
views are and why they are there

3) but I agree that not many do.

4) if we make that parameter configurable, the *WHOLE* point of having 
views disappears since crawlers don't have a way to tell how to ask for 
a specific view.

NOTE: a crawler should be allowed to ask for a specific view setting an 
HTTP header in the request. The use of the 'cocoon-view' parameter is a 
hack. We are aware of this. It's a hack because no browser allows you to 
set the http headers directly, nor there is a portable way to do this 
via javascript. Since views are useful for debugging, we allowed this 
way of asking for views.

So, at the end, I would do:

1) turn off views from the default sitemap. NOTE: this will turn off the 
ability to make static snapshots of your webapp from the cocoon CLI!

2) write a pretty detailed comment in the default sitemap telling what 
views are, how they work briefly and what potential security issues do 
they make.

3) keep the view parameter name hardcoded as it is.

Thoughts? anybody against this?

Stefano.


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