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Answer: Cookie based authentication: Is it secure?

by chromatic (Archbishop)
on Aug 28, 2000 at 03:10 UTC ( #29937=categorized answer: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Q&A > CGI programming > Cookie based authentication: Is it secure? - Answer contributed by chromatic

The only thing successfully retrieving a cookie should imply, from a security standpoint, is that, at one time, someone using that particular browser (session, if you're using session cookies) was successfully authenticated. Period.

If I logged in to your site from a public terminal and left the browser open, anyone else could potentially use my cookie.

For some applications, this is enough security. For others, you might save a timestamp of the user's last access and require reauthentication if X minutes/hours/days have passed since the last transaction.

In general, if you don't store too much information in a cookie and if you realize the implications of what I've said above, this is a decent method of saving state.

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[stevieb]: it's Quebec... they do weird stuff there :) In the mountains, it is *mandatory* for trucks to use tire chains. Many passenger vehicles do as well (but it's not mandatory for them)
[perldigious]: That stuff can hit fast... like what we just got where I'm at. Saw a few people who had slid OUT of the roundabout I have to drive through to get to work, not used to the ice yet, take awhile to get the hang of it again and make vehicle adjustments.
[stevieb]: man, when the roads are glare ice, I don't even bother going to work or out... unless I absolutely have to, or was already out in the first place
[choroba]: Tire chains are mandatory here in mountains, and the only unprepared each year are gritters
[stevieb]: I have a 3 day winter survival kit in my vehicle in the event I get snowed in in the mountains (which has happened before due to avalanches closing the roads (and once in the summer due to a massive forest fire that trapped us
[perldigious]: a handful of people in my work area did not make it, but I live pretty close and it's flat the whole way, so I didn't have any trouble. The roundabout is the worst thing I have to negotiate.
[thezip]: G'day all!
[perldigious]: Well, that and dodging the people who forget how ice works right away. :-)
[stevieb]: hey, thezip
[perldigious]: I don't miss having to drive up and down in elevation on roads that are iced over, I white knuckled gripping the steering wheel every time I had to where I used to live.

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