Cookie Security

Cookie attributes

Ultimate cookie:
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Set-Cookie: __Host-SessionID=3h93...;Path=/;Secure;HttpOnly;SameSite=Strict
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Secure attribute

Cookies marked with the Secure attribute are only sent over encrypted HTTPS connections. The Secure attribute only protects the confidentiality of a cookie against MiTM attackers - there is no integrity protection.
  • Mallory can't read Secure cookies
  • Mallory can still write/change Secure cookies

HttpOnly attribute

Cookies marked with the HttpOnly attribute are not accessible from JavaScript. The HttpOnly attribute only protects the confidentiality of a cookie, but HttpOnly cookies can be replaced by overflowing the cookie jar from JavaScript.

Path attribute

The Path attribute limits the scope of a cookie to a specific path on the server and can therefore be used to prevent unauthorized access to it from other applications on the same host.

Isolation two different applications on shared host

Domain attribute

The Domain specifies allowed hosts to receive the cookie.
  • If the Domain attribute unspecified, it defaults to the host of the current document location, excluding subdomains
    • IE will always send to subdomains regardless
  • If the Domain attribute is specified, cookies will be sent to that domain and all its subdomains

Expires attribute

The Expires attribute allows you to set the maximum cookie lifetime.
  • If the Expires attribute unspecified, cookie lifetime is equal to session lifetime
  • It is up to the browser to decide when the session ends
  • Non-persistent session cookies may actually be persisted to survive browser restart
References:

SameSite

The SameSite attribute prevents the browser from sending cookies along with cross-site requests. The SameSite attribute can have one of two values (case-insensitive):
  • Strict, if the URL of the constructed request is different from the URL of the current page, Strict cookies will not be included in the request
    • Possible problem: Strict cookies will not be sent when clicking on a link from another site
    • Possible solution: Use two cookies. The first cookie, without SameSite, as a uniq user id, allows you to show username e.g. Second cookie, with SameSite, to make purchases, profile changes, and more
  • Lax, adds an exception allowing the send a cookies when navigating from an external URL, which uses secure HTTP methods, for example, when clicking on the link. The secure methods: GET, HEAD, OPTIONS ΠΈ TRACE.
From Chrome 80 (February 2019) the default behaviour of a cookie without a cookie SameSite attribute will be Lax, check the link​
Temporary, after applying this change, the cookies without a SameSite in Chrome will be treated as None during the first 2 minutes and then as Lax, Bypass SameSite Cookies Default to Lax and get CSRF​
References:

Cookie prefix

The Cookie Prefix allows the send of cookie prefix information to ensure that certain attributes are present in a cookie request. Supported prefixes:
  • __Secure-, tells the browser that the Secure attribute is required,
  • __Host-, tells the browser that the Path = / and Secure attributes are required, and at the same time that the Domain attribute should not be present.
References:

Cookie-list sorting

The RFC6265 standard defines the order of cookies:
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2. The user agent SHOULD sort the cookie-list in the following order:
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* Cookies with longer paths are listed before cookies with shorter paths.
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* Among cookies that have equal-length path fields, cookies with earlier creation-times are listed before cookies with later creation-times.
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as a result, if the vulnerable application uses only the first cookie, you can force it to use your cookie by adding the Path attribute with longer path.