SameSite cookies

Recently, while reading through the updated 2017 OWASP Top Ten RC1 documentation, last updated in 2013, I noticed a recommendation to use Cookies with the “SameSite=strict” value set to reduce CSRF exposure in section A8.

Consider using the “SameSite=strict” flag on all cookies, which is increasingly supported in browsers.

Similar to the way that HttpOnly and Secure attributes have been added, SameSite allows for additional control.

Per the documentation, as of April 2017 the SameSite attribute is implemented in Chrome 51 and Opera 39. Firefox has an open defect, but I would expect it to be added soon to follow Chrome.

Set-Cookie: CookieName=CookieValue; SameSite=Lax;
Set-Cookie: CookieName=CookieValue; SameSite=Strict;

According to the specification you can issue the SameSite flag without a value and Strict will be assumed:

Set-Cookie: CookieName=CookieValue; SameSite

As many programming languages and server runtime environments do not yet support this for session cookies, you can use the Apache Tier1 configuration to append them.

Header edit Set-Cookie ^(JSESSIONID.*)$ $1;SameSite=Strict
Header edit Set-Cookie ^(PHPSESSID.*)$ $1;SameSite=Strict

It looks like PHP.INI might support the following attribute in a future release, but it’s not there yet!



Squid3 Proxy on Ubuntu

Using a personal proxy server can be helpful for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Performance – network speed and bandwidth
  • Security – filtering and monitoring
  • Debugging – to trace activity

Here are some simple steps to get you started,  obviously you will need to further “harden” security to make it production ready!

sudo apt-get install squid3

cd /etc/squid3/
sudo mv squid.conf squid.orig
sudo vi squid.conf

NOTE: the following configuration works, but will likely need to be adapted for your specific usage.

http_port 3128
auth_param digest program /usr/lib/squid3/digest_file_auth -c /etc/squid3/passwords
#auth_param digest program /usr/lib/squid3/digest_pw_auth -c /etc/squid3/passwords
auth_param digest realm proxy
auth_param basic credentialsttl 4 hours
acl authenticated proxy_auth REQUIRED
acl localnet src # RFC 1918 possible internal network
acl localnet src # RFC 1918 possible internal network
acl localnet src # RFC 1918 possible internal network
acl localnet src fc00::/7 # RFC 4193 local private network range
acl localnet src fe80::/10 # RFC 4291 link-local (directly plugged) machines
#acl SSL_ports port 443
#http_access deny to_localhost
#http_access deny CONNECT !SSL_ports
http_access allow localnet
http_access allow localhost
http_access allow authenticated
via on
forwarded_for transparent

Create the users and passwords:

sudo apt-get install apache2-utils (required for htdigest)
sudo htdigest -c /etc/squid3/passwords proxy user1
sudo htdigest /etc/squid3/passwords proxy user2

Open up firewall port (if enabled):

sudo ufw allow 3128

Restart the server and tail the logs:

sudo service squid3 restart
sudo tail -f /var/log/squid3/access.log



MONITORING with Splunk…

sudo /opt/splunkforwarder/bin/splunk add monitor /var/log/squid3/access.log -index main -sourcetype Squid3
sudo /opt/splunkforwarder/bin/splunk add monitor /var/log/squid3/cache.log -index main -sourcetype Squid3


Mozilla Firefox Tracking Protection

While “Do Not Track” (DNT) was an HTTP Header used to “request” that the browser sent to a server, it was not guaranteed to be honored. New versions of Firefox support “Tracking Protection” that automatically block many common tracking mechanisms.

  • Type “about:config” in the URL line.
  • Toggle “privacy.trackingprotection.enabled” from false to true.
  • Done!


Disable IPv6 on Ubuntu

Ubuntu updates occasionally fail due to IPv6 update servers not being reachable. While I prefer to keep IPV6 activated, this approach will allow you to disable it for updates, simply reverse the steps to re-enable afterwards!

  1. Update the configuration file…

    sudo vi /etc/sysctl.conf


    # IPv6 disabled
    net.ipv6.conf.all.disable_ipv6 = 1
    net.ipv6.conf.default.disable_ipv6 = 1
    net.ipv6.conf.lo.disable_ipv6 = 1

  2. Then, you must enable the change…

    sudo sysctl -p

  3. To verify…


Windows 7+ “GodMode”

To give you complete control over all the configurable options in Windows 7+ at a single press of a button just simply create a new folder anywhere and rename it to this:


The folder you create will now have 270 items that are to do with configurable options in Windows 7. Interestingly it also works for Windows 8.1 and 10 as well.

NOTE: Vista partially supported this feature, but was prone to crashing until the folder was removed.


Read XML Properties in Java

Once in a while you need to externalize some configuration without the overhead of a complete framework, here’s a simple method to read an XML formatted property file in java. In most cases, it’s a performance advantage to wrap this up in a Singleton pattern, but that’s a different topic altogether.

private getAttributes() {
final String filename = "";
final InputStream input = getClass().getClassLoader().getResourceAsStream(filename);
System.err.println("Cannot find properties:"+ filename);
final java.util.Properties props = new java.util.Properties();
try {
hostprop = props.getProperty("hostname",null);
userprop = props.getProperty("username",null);
pswdprop = props.getProperty("password",null);
catch(final Exception e){
System.err.println("Error occurred while reading properties file:"+ input);
try {
catch(final ex){

The matching file would resemble…

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
<!DOCTYPE properties SYSTEM "">
<entry key="hostname">localhost</entry>
<entry key="username">example</entry>
<entry key="password">example</entry>

“msapplication-config” and browserconfig.xml

Windows-8/MSIE-11 introduced Tiles, as such server administrators may have started seeing HTTP 404 errors in their server logs as it attempts to look for a “browserconfig.xml” file at the root of a website domain. If you are inclined to use this file, you should definitely look into the documentation for how to best make use of it. Others may just wish to prevent the error from making “noise” in their log files.

To remove the error, add the following to your pages; alternately you COULD define the URL of your file as the ‘content’ attribute:

<meta name="msapplication-config" content="none" />

You can alternately place an empty /browserconfig.xml on your web server for each domain.

An common example of how to use this file is below:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<square70x70logo src="/mstile-70x70.png"/>
<square150x150logo src="/mstile-150x150.png"/>
<wide310x150logo src="/mstile-310x150.png"/>
<square310x310logo src="/mstile-310x310.png"/>
<TileImage src="/mstile-150x150.png" />



If you support code for multiple java application servers, you might eventually encounter a file named:


JBoss uses this file to control the path of the web application, whereas Tomcat generally uses the filename of the WAR itself.

Usually, the contents are pretty sparse, you might consider adding one to your projects should you ever wish to deploy them on JBoss:


NOTE: There are several other attributes that can find their way into this file for JBoss, notably security configuration, like JAAS.

WARNING: Unfortunately, I’ve tried to add a simple DOCTYPE jboss-web and XML preamble to this, file to make it validate, but the server (JBoss 5.1.x) fails to recognize them.

MySQL useConfigs=maxPerformance

I noticed this while updating to SonarQube 4.5. The documentation and references to this parameter lead me to believe that it is a useful shortcut to optimizing server resources.

In /opt/sonar/


NOTE: In some instances you may need to escape the ampersands!

I’ll change this on a few projects and watch for any issues changes.



Like in Java, securing/renaming the PHP Session ID is simply a configuration item, generally this value is set as a cookie, but occasionally gets used in cases of URL Rewriting.

On Ubuntu your settings can be changed as follows, Windows will use the same settings in the appropriate file:

  1. sudo vi /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini
  2. Modify the following values as needed: = "PHPSESSID"
    session.cookie_httponly = 1