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Ajax the combination of XHTML, CSS, DOM, XML, XSLT, XMLHttpRequest, and JavaScript
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Old October 30th, 2006, 10:37 PM
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Default Ajax Security Question!

Hello,

I'm new to Ajax and I have a question about how security is handled.

Consider the following example: I have a page with a username and password which is authenticated against the database. Instead of refreshing the page every time user credentials fail, I made a function that checks the credentials, use Ajax to call the function, and act accordingly.

My question is, what prevents anybody from looking at the Javascript of Ajax that calls the authentication function and not make use of that function remotely to crack username/password combinations?

How can the function check where the call is coming from to ensure it's from my application?

Obviously, with the old way the user can go to the page and try username/password combinations, but there were checks to make sure the page wasn't being called from somebody else's application.

I don't see how this is protected against in Ajax.

Thanks

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Old November 2nd, 2006, 05:46 AM
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Simple, there isn't any inbuilt security. If you think of Ajax as just a different way of doing HTTP Request and getting a HTTP Response. In, say , a php application, there's no inherent, in-built security. You would have to implement it with the PHP Auth package, or simple HTTP authentication, and this holds true for Ajax. I'm dealing with precisely the problem you describe at the moment, and the way I intend to deal with it is through timeouts - e.g. first request for login is instant, then there's a 1 second delay, then 2 seconds, then 4, then 8, then 16, then 32, and we cap the delay at this level. A brute force attack is much less likely to succeed given that a authentication request can only be made every 32 seconds.

Another way would be through lockouts - e.g. three tries and then the username is locked. But this all goes back to what I said initially, securing an Ajax app is similar to securing a php or asp.net app - they provide tools to help you do it, but it is still up to you to implement a security architecture

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