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CHAPTER 14: Web Site Security
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Disabling Directory Listings
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To make sharing files to the Web easy, Apache will, by default, serve all files that it can access to any user who tries to access it. Any files within a path to a web site or any files available using symbolic links within the web site code are accessible through Apache. This makes limiting access to files available to the Apache user an important aspect of web server security. One way to mitigate this issue is to deny access to the file system and allow access only to the document root using the httpd.conf file. By adding the following code to the httpd.conf file, any access other than that granted by this line would be denied:
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<Directory /> Order Deny,Allow Deny from all </Directory> <Directory /Library/WebServer/Documents> Order Allow,Deny Allow from All </Directory>
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This uses the Directory option in Apache to limit access but still does not offer protection against following symbolic links located in directories that point to files within the directory structure. To do this, you would use what is known as an options directive to further limit access to files within the directory structure. Options directives are specified with a + sign or a minus ( ) sign in front of the option to enable and disable access, respectively. FollowSymLinks is the option directive to control the ability to follow symbolic links. Use the following syntax to implement it:
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<Directory /Library/WebServer/Documents> Order Allow,Deny Allow from All Options FollowSymLinks </Directory>
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In many cases, symbolic links are required for code to properly execute. In this case, you can use the SymLinksIfOwnerMatch directive. This would allow symbolic links to function only if the owner of the link is the same as the owner of the file to which the symbolic link points. Here s an example of enabling SymLinksIfOwnerMatch:
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<Directory /Library/WebServer/Documents> Order Allow,Deny Allow from All Options FollowSymLinks +SymLinksIfOwnerMatch </Directory>
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TIP: It is important to always provide the lowest level of permissions possible to users accessing the web server. This can help toward the goal of creating the securest possible site while still allowing for full functionality.
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CHAPTER 14: Web Site Security
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Uploading Files Securely
FTP is a protocol that is used by web developers to upload files to web servers. FTP is a very unsecure protocol that transmits usernames and passwords in plain text. Because it has been around just about as long as the Internet, it s difficult to force webmasters and hosts to use something else. So if people really must use FTP, configure sftp, a part of OpenSSH. For more information on SSH, see 15. NOTE: Never allow a database administrator to access a web site s database through a firewall. Database administrators should be accessing their code through a secure VPN tunnel and not by its IP address.
Code Injection Attacks
Some attacks are the result of a web application s inability to process data that falls outside the boundary of what s expected. These attacks are generally the result of design decisions made by the developers of your web application. However, as an administrator, you can keep an eye on your web applications (and your developers) by knowing what to look for.
SQL Injection
SQL Injection vulnerabilities are very common in web applications that use an SQL database, and they are easily exploitable. The vulnerability exists when user input is not filtered for escape characters, allowing a user to enter SQL statements into a form field. For example, on an authentication page with a username and password field, suppose the user entered this in the password field:
a' or 1=1
When the SQL statement is built, the password condition would be Password= a or 1=1, which is always going to evaluate to true. An attacker could enter any valid username and be authenticated successfully. This is an example of a very simple attack, but much more complex exploits exist that can result in data theft, changes to the content of your database, or damage to your database.
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