Friday, May 08, 2015

An Insight Into Authorization And Securing Websites In ASP.NET

Ensuring a secure and authentic access to the website is a prime concern for the most of the developers and website owners. If your website is open to everyone and not possessing and security bar, your content and business is at a great risk of malware and hackers. An illegal and unauthentic access can affect your page rank and even spam your website. 

Authorization and Securing in ASP.NET

Hence, it is imperative to manage the access to your website while considering the user's need. Generally there are several sections on a website targeted for several administrative and public usage. Therefore, there is a greater need of authorization, as it will help keep the consequences of unauthorized access at the bay. Thus, users will be only able to access the specific sections on the website depending on their role of responsibility. There comes the job of a web developer, who is accountable for implementing a secure and reliable authorization.

Authorization: A Foreword

The very vital information that is required while defining the access limit for a user is to identify the user, that is, whether the user is a consumer (like customer at an e-commerce site) or an administrator. Thus, we can say that a website supports authentication when it can determine the identity of an individual and upon that basis, it personalizes the website for that user by representing the known info about the user after logging in.

Authorization primarily focuses on determining the unique identity of a user and accordingly identifying the actions that the user can perform. And by using the unique identity of users, we can further embrace superior protection on the several sections your website.

Recommended Post : How To Set Up and Use Authentication Filters in ASP.NET

Creating Groups Can Help Manage Access Efficiently
It is quite obvious that managing the access for numerous individuals is a daunting task and may create bottlenecks in the site's performance. To handle this issue in a better fashion, you can create groups for users possessing similar demands or accessing rights. The website administrator can define the limitations and access for each group serving a specific role.

How to protect web pages in ASP.NET site?
Security is the most vital aspect of any website. For ASP.NET-enabled websites, there are basically two methods available. Let's ponder into each approach one by one.

1. Securing The Routing And Web Forms
This approach primarily involves the implementation of the web.config file for securing the access to the web pages.

Basic XML snippet:
<location path="customerhome.aspx">
<allow roles="customer"/>
<deny users="*"/>

Here, in the aforementioned snippet, the path holds the information of the folder, file or route that you specifically want to secure. If no path is defined, by default it will consider the current directory (web.config). The authorization element will help define the access and denied access attribute of the mentioned path. With the allow element the role or group can be defined.

In this example, first the <allow roles="customer"/> is checked and if a user belongs to the customer group, he will be granted access and that is it, nothing else is required to be checked. However, if the user doesn't belong to the specified role, the next rule will be checked. For instance, here, the users who are not customers will be denied access.

2. Securing The MVC

In this approach the controllers and the actions imposed over those controllers is paramount. Like web forms, that by default facilitates access to all the users, while developing ASP.NET website also allows all users to access controllers and actions.

Here, you are required to implement the Authorize attribute. This can help you limit the access of the defined role. For instance, let's consider a class AdminController that should only be allowed to be accessed by the users possessing the Admin role. This can be done with the following line of code.

[Authorize(Roles = "siteadmin")]
public class AdminController : Controller

How to handle web pages accessed by multiple roles?
Securing web pages for users exhibiting single role is much simpler than that for users with multiple roles.

The private and sensitive information on the website is needed to be dealt with utmost precision and care. To ensure their security and smooth functioning of the website, all unauthorized access should be prevented. You can follow the aforementioned guide and keep your ASP.NET website safe and secure by precisely configuring the page access, actions and roles for all types of potential users.
Now, once the files, folders, actions, controllers, and routers have been secured, the next thing is to ensure that no conflicts are originating while users assigned with multiple roles are accessing the ASP.NET-enabled website. There is a probability that different roles have been assigned the access to the page while they possess different abilities and rights on the page. In such situations, it is advisable to avoid including the links of URLs, files or action on the page itself. To deny an action for a role, simply remove that action from the page, there is no reason for displaying it either.