Title:
One-Time Cookies: Preventing Session Hijacking Attacks with Disposable Credentials

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Dacosta, Italo
Chakradeo, Saurabh
Ahamad, Mustaque
Traynor, Patrick
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Abstract
Many web applications are vulnerable to session hijacking attacks due to the insecure use of cookies for session management. The most recommended defense against this threat is to completely replace HTTP with HTTPS. However, this approach presents several challenges (e.g., performance and compatibility concerns) and therefore, has not been widely adopted. In this paper, we propose “One-Time Cookies” (OTC), an HTTP session authentication protocol that is efficient, easy to deploy and resistant to session hijacking. OTC’s security relies on the use of disposable credentials based on a modified hash chain construction. We implemented OTC as a plug-in for the popular WordPress platform and conducted extensive performance analysis using extensions developed for both Firefox and Firefox for mobile browsers. Our experiments demonstrate the ability to maintain session integrity with a throughput improvement of 51% over HTTPS and a performance approximately similar to a cookie-based approach. In so doing, we demonstrate that one-time cookies can significantly improve the security of web sessions with minimal changes to current infrastructure.
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Date Issued
2011
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Technical Report
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