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Prevent Session Hijacking By Binding The Session To The Cryptographic Network Credentials

W. Burgers, Roel Verdult, M. V. Eekelen
Published 2013 · Computer Science

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Many cyber-physical applications are responsible for safety critical or business critical infrastructure. Such applications are often controlled through a web interface. They manage sensitive databases, drive important SCADA systems or represent imperative business processes. A vast majority of such web applications are well-known to be vulnerable to a number of exploits. The focus of this paper is on the vulnerability of session stealing, also called session hijacking. We developed a novel method to prevent session stealing in general. The key idea of the method is binding the securely negotiated communication channel to the application user authentication. For this we introduce a server side reverse proxy which runs independently from the client and server software. The proposed method wraps around the deployed infrastructure and requires no alterations to existing software. This paper discusses the technical encryption issues involved with employing this method. We describe a prototype implementation and motivate the technical choices made. Furthermore, the prototype is validated by applying it to secure the particularly vulnerable Blackboard Learn system, which is a important and critical infrastructural application for our university. We concretely demonstrate how to protect this system against session stealing. Finally, we discuss the application areas of this new method.
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