Access Control

When dealing with access controls the first step to take is to use only trusted system objects for access authorization decisions. In the example provided in the Session Management section we implemented this using JWT . JSON Web Tokens to generate a session token on the server-side.

// create a JWT and put in the clients cookie
func setToken(res http.ResponseWriter, req *http.Request) {
    //30m Expiration for non-sensitive applications - OWASP
    expireToken := time.Now().Add(time.Minute * 30).Unix()
    expireCookie := time.Now().Add(time.Minute * 30)

    //token Claims
    claims := Claims{

    token := jwt.NewWithClaims(jwt.SigningMethodHS256, claims)
    signedToken, _ := token.SignedString([]byte("secret"))

We can then store and use this token to validate the user and enforce our Access Control model.

The component used for access authorization should be a single one, used site-wide. This includes libraries that call external authorization services.

In case of failure, access control should fail securely. In Go we can use Defer to achieve this. More details in the Error Logging section of the document.

If the application cannot access its configuration information, all access to the application should be denied.

Authorization controls should be enforced on every request, including server-side scripts as well as requests from client-side technologies like AJAX or Flash.

It is also important to properly separate privileged logic from the rest of the application code.

Other important operations where access controls must be enforced in order to prevent an unauthorized user from accessing them are:

  • File and other resources.
  • Protected URL's
  • Protected functions
  • Direct object references
  • Services
  • Application data
  • User and data attributes and policy information.

In the provided sample, a simple direct object reference is tested. This code is built upon the sample in the Session Management.

When implementing these access controls, it's important to verify that the server-side implementation and the presentation layer representations of access control rules match.

If state data needs to be stored on the client-side, it's necessary to use encryption and integrity checking in order to prevent tampering.

Application logic flow must comply with the business rules.

When dealing with transactions, the number of transactions a single user or device can perform in a given period of time must be above the business requirements but low enough to prevent a user from performing a DoS type attack.

It is important to note that using only the referer HTTP header is insufficient to validate authorization, and should only be used as a supplemental check.

Regarding long authenticated sessions, the application should periodically re-evaluate the user's authorization to verify that the user's permissions have not changed. If the permissions have changed, log the user out and force them to re-authenticate.

User accounts should also have a way to audit them, in order to comply with safety procedures. (e.g. Disabling a user's account 30 days after the password's expiration date).

The application must also support the disabling of accounts and the termination of sessions when a user's authorization is revoked. (e.g. Role change, employment status, etc.).

When supporting external service accounts and accounts that support connections from or to external systems, these accounts must run on the lowest level of privilege possible.

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