tomcat-users mailing list archives

Site index · List index
Message view « Date » · « Thread »
Top « Date » · « Thread »
From André Warnier>
Subject Re: Filter by HTTP_REFERER
Date Wed, 02 Nov 2011 09:17:37 GMT
Pid * wrote:
> On 31 Oct 2011, at 18:25, Christopher Schultz
> <> wrote:
>> Hash: SHA1
>> Richardo,
>> On 10/31/2011 12:33 PM, Ricardo Bayley wrote:
>>> You are right. What I intend to do is prevent hot linking.
>> We get what you are trying to do: you'll just have to write your own
>> code to do it. Tomcat ships with a Filter called RequestFilter that
>> you can subclass if you need that kind of flexibility. If you don't
>> need such flexibility, just write it yourself: it's pretty much a
>> one-liner.
> It'll still be fragile and open to exploitation. An AJAX call can set
> any request headers it likes. You be better off using authentication
> if you want anything more than a casual defence.
> p
>>> My webapp, is working as a REST webservice.
>>> So I would like to have tomcat reply only when requests come from
>>> specific sites.
>> You mean when the requests are referred from specific sites, right?
>> - -chris

I think that a bit of clarification is in order now.

1) When receiving a request, Tomcat "knows" from which client IP this request is coming.
This is because there is a TCP connection nbetween the client and Tomcat, and the TCP/IP 
stack on the Tomcat machine "knows" the IP address and TCP port from which the remote 
client is making this connection.

Tomcat can allow/block requests originating from specific IP addresses, using the 
RemoteAddress filter (See or the 
Remote IP Valve (also mentioned there).
This is fairly efficient, because Tomcat already has the information needed to make the 

2) Because Tomcat has the client's remote IP address, it can also make a "reverse DNS 
lookup", to find out which domain name corresponds to this IP address, and then allow/deny

the request based on the remote host's domain name.  This is done via the RemoteHost 
filter (
It is less efficient than option (1), because a DNS lookup has to take place.
Furthermore, this DNS lookup is not guaranteed to succeed, because not all IP addresses 
are mapped in reverse to a hostname.
I also wonder what happens exactly when the remote host's IP address corresponds to 
multiple DNS names, as can happen.

3) the HTTP "Referer" header in a HTTP request is a different animal.

First, as pointed out by Pid, it can be easily faked by a client.
(So anything based on this should certainly /not/ be considered as any kind of 
security-enhancing feature).

Second, it works as follows :

Imagine a browser B, some website W, and the Tomcat web server T.
The browser B gets a web page from site W. This is now the browser's "current page", and 
its origin is (to the browser) something like : "http://website-W/some-document.html".

In that page, there is a URL link to the Tomcat website on T, for example something like :
<a href="http://website-T/some-REST-url">click here</a>.
When the user clicks on that link, the browser will send a HTTP request to Tomcat on 
server T.  And the browser, in this request, will add a "Referer:" header containing 
That is because the request originates from the current page, which had been obtained from

"http://website-W/some-document.html".  That is what "referrer" means.

As you can see, this is different from cases (1) and (2), because (1) and (2) refer to the

client's own IP address or name, while (3) refers to another server altogether.

Now the point is to know exactly what Ricardo wants, as per this phrase :
 >>> So I would like to have tomcat reply only when requests come from
 >>> specific sites.

Does that mean :
- Tomcat should reject requests coming from workstations that are not themselves within a

particular range of IP addresses ? (for example, only from some customer LANs L1, L2, 
L3,..) of which the IP addresses are known in advance ?
- Tomcat should reject requests coming from clients whose own IP addresses cannot be 
resolved to hostnames that are members of some DNS domain (like "*" or 
"*") ?
- Tomcat should reject requests (from any client), unless these requests come from a link

which itself appears only on some websites ?
(and the possibility of a malicious client "faking" such a "Referer" can be ignored).

To unsubscribe, e-mail:
For additional commands, e-mail:

View raw message