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From Sylvain Wallez <>
Subject Re: cocoon-view as possible security problem?
Date Fri, 21 Mar 2003 08:19:34 GMT
Stefano Mazzocchi wrote:

> Tony Collen wrote:
>> Browsing the livesites, on a whim I tried this URL:
>> 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? 

What about simply adding an IP matcher in the view that would restrict 
access to the view to a reserved set of clients (localhost by default), 
and direct others to a nice page, or simply a 404 error ? This would 
leave the door open to local debugging and crawnling, and would firmly 
close it to remote "attacks".


Sylvain Wallez                                  Anyware Technologies 
{ XML, Java, Cocoon, OpenSource }*{ Training, Consulting, Projects }

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