Session Management in Security Testing

NITHIL M P | November 15, 2022

Session Management in Security Testing

A web session is a series of HTTP request and response transactions carried out over the network for the same user. The retention of information or status about each user over the duration of several queries is necessary for modern and complicated web applications. As a result, sessions give the option to set variables that will be applied to each and every interaction a user has with the web application for the duration of the session, such as access privileges and localization settings.

The session ID (or token) is momentarily equivalent to the strongest authentication technique used by the programme, such as username and password, passphrases, one-time passwords (OTP), client-based digital certificates, smartcards, or biometrics, once an authenticated session has been formed (such as fingerprint or eye retina)

Vulnerabilities Category in Session Management

There square measure principally 2 classes during which session management vulnerabilities fall:

1. Generating Weak Session Management Tokens:

This includes making important, sure, or encrypted tokens which will be simply cracked as they typically depict a structure. Once the offender understands the logic for the token generation, he will simply produce a sound one exploiting the exposed logic.

2. Insecure Handling of Session Management Throughout Life-Cycle:

This includes leaked tokens on the network or logs, session termination not fitly enforced, token hijacking through different attacks like XSS, and loose cookie scope.

Vulnerabilities & Their answer in Session Management

Let us discuss regarding session management vulnerabilities and their answer in detail:

1. Vulnerability: Important Tokens

Some developers build the error of selecting users' information during a reworked means. for instance, it might be a username, user id, or email address.

The reworked token might look extraordinarily secure long string. But, if taken a more in-depth look, it might be simply a hex price. On decryption, it's going to reveal the particular price being employed for the session id.

For example,

  Session ID:  757365723d616b3b6170703d746573743b646174653d31372f30352f32303232 

When decoded this hex string it'll reveal

  user = ak; app = test; date = 17/05/2022

Try decryption of the token price exploitation usually encryption ways like base64 and positional notation to check if it exposes the direction for the session ID token.

Solution: Avoid exploitation important tokens as a session ID.

2. Vulnerability: Sure Tokens

These forms of session-id tokens do not typically have any user-specific important information. However, they accommodates a pattern or a sequence that hackers will exploit to guess the valid tokens.

  • Methods Accustomed Generate Sure Tokens: Concealed sequences: it's going to be laborious to guess once analyzed in its raw kind, however they accommodates a pattern that gets disclosed once decoded. the particular price is undergone multiple patterns.
  • Time Dependency: This is often quite an common technique accustomed generate session id tokens. A hacker will get his hands on an outsized scale user tokens within the application thanks to poor entropy enforced within the algorithmic rule for generating tokens.
  • Solution: Avoid employing a sure tokens generation technique for the session ID. If used, it must be enforced rigorously.

3. Vulnerability: Encrypted Tokens

This technique of generating session-id has already proved to be quite vulnerable in real-world apps. It's straightforward to induce attacked.

Below square measure samples of common algorithms employed by developers to come up with tokens.

EBC Ciphers:Applications with these forms of session-id use a token generated by such regular cryptography algorithmic rule which may be simply decrypted to reveal its content.


But this algorithmic rule operates on an associate 8/16 computer memory unit block of knowledge & converts to the cipher-text as displayed below.

  rnd=2458      =>     68BAC980742B9EF8

  992;app=      =>     0A27CBBBC0618E38

  iTradeEU      =>     76FF3D6C6E6A7B9C

  R_1;uid=      =>     B8FCA486F9E11922

  218;user      =>     776F0307329140AA

  name=daf      =>     BD223F003A8309DD

  ydd;time      =>     B6B970C47BA2E249

  =6344304      =>     A0670592D74BCD07

Solution: Avoid exploitation these weak/vulnerable algorithms to come up with tokens as a session ID.

4. Vulnerability: Speech Act of Tokens on the Network or Logs

This becomes a priority once session-id transmits through associate unsecured network that hackers will simply sniff to induce their hands on session tokens.

Also, there might be some cases wherever the session-id token is changed via communications protocol rather than HTTPS. for instance, most applications use communications protocol to load static content like pictures, CSS, and scripts.

Also, logs ought to be monitored for session tokens, user browser logs, internet server logs, or ISP proxy server logs. Hackers will merely sniff the session token price & decipher it to reveal its original kind.

Solution: Avoid exploitation change communications protocolS → HTTP, or keep eye logs at numerous levels, like browser, internet application & ISP logs.

5. Vulnerability: Session Termination Not Fitly Enforced

If session time isn't restricted it will provide a hacker associate with ample quantity of your time to find/exploit the session token key.

Secondly, many situations ought to be lined, like a session expiring on logout, inactivity, or closing the browser.

Solution: Implement a shorter amount of session time & expire session keys once a user logs out or closes the browser.

6. Vulnerability: Stealing Tokens Through Different Attacks Like XSS, CSRF & Malware

If the application is prone to different attacks like those mentioned higher than, it might cause hijacking of the session via stealing the cookies, native storage, or session-related information.

It is the foremost common technique used for stealing session information. Phishing attacks virtually accounted for seventeen % of attacks in 2021, that uses these vulnerabilities to attack the victim.

Solution: The application must check for the opposite vulnerabilities. If found, we'd like to mend them to avoid more exploitation.

7. Vulnerability: Loose Cookie Scope

Session management will be enforced through a variety of various ways like cookies, hidden kind fields, SSL & uniform resource locator revising. however, the foremost common one is thru cookies. Cookies square measure useful in many ways, however, they'll even be dangerous if they get into the incorrect hands.


Solution: Keep the cookie's scope as restricted as possible. If there's a necessity to be shared across different domains, keep it secure. strive to avoid sharing with an insecure third-party application.

Types of Session Hijacking Attacks

1. Session Fixation

The assailant already encompasses a valid session ID key & forces the target user to log in utilizing the hacker-provided session ID. Their area unit has multiple ways to perform this attack, for example, AN communications protocol question to pass the session ID.


2. Session Prediction

A session ID ought to be distinctive and tough to take a position. Not all developers use identified libraries provided by the frameworks. Developers manufacture custom session IDs and find themselves with insecure implementation.


For example, here, the JSESSIONID token uses a user-id parameter as its price that is kind of simply predictable .

3. Session Side-Jacking

Side-jacking is accomplished through sniffing. The hacker might simply get entangled within the transmission between the consumer & server if the consumer is utilizing the unsecured network.


4. Cross-site Scripting (XSS)

Stealing a session ID through XSS is probably going the foremost common attack, that uses JavaScript code to scan the cookies & deliver them to the hacker. Similarly, users may also use malicious malware to inject the code, scan the cookies, or access native storage files.


Best Practices for Session Management

According to the OWASP tips, the following area unit the most effective practices for session security:

  1. Zap: Zap tool supports testing for numerous forms of session management, like cookie-based sessions, script-based, and communications protocol authentication strategies.
  2. Burp Suite: The Burp Suite also has built-in capabilities just like the sequencer feature that's accustomed to taking a look at the session management with careful coverage.


The session management mechanism is susceptible to a large variety of attacks. Hackers keep sorting out loopholes in applications session management to hijack the session & masquerade that user to hold out unauthorized actions.

Securing Session Management Tips:

  • Generate massive, Random & sturdy tokens
  • Secure tokens throughout their period
  • Properly log, Monitor & alert for brute force attacks

Session management mechanisms are vulnerable to various attacks. Hackers are always looking for loopholes in application session management to hijack sessions and prevent their users from performing unauthorised actions. Session management is a particularly crucial side of any application, that must be enforced & tested fastidiously.

At Sanesquare Technologies, we've got experience within the security testing domain to create positive our client's businesses to stay thriving & secure. If you need any assistance with Security Testing Services contacts us, and we can help you.

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