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WCF Security Checklist

patterns & practices Developer Center

Design Considerations

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Consider exposing different endpoints.

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If you need to support ASMX clients, use basicHttpBinding.

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If you are migrating from DCOM, use netTcpBinding.

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If you need to support legacy WSE clients, use a customBinding in WCF.

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If you require interoperability with non-Microsoft clients, use bindings that are targeted for interoperability.

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If your non-Microsoft clients understand the WS* stack, use ws2007HttpBinding or wsHttpBinding.

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Consider transport security as your preferred security mode.

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Know your authentication options.

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Know your authorization options.

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Know your binding options.

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Choose the right binding for your scenario.


Auditing and Logging

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Use WCF auditing to audit your service.

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If non-repudiation is important, consider setting the SuppressAuditFailure property to false.

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Use message logging for debugging purposes.

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Instrument for user management events.

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Instrument for significant business operations.

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Protect log files from unauthorized access.

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Do not log sensitive information.

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Protect information in log files.

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Use a custom trace listener only when message filtering is needed.


Authentication

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Know your authentication options.

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Use Windows authentication when you can.

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If your users are in Active Directory but you can’t use Windows authentication, consider using Username authentication.

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If you are using Username authentication, use a membership provider instead of custom authentication.

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If your users are in a SQL membership store, use the SQL Server membership provider.

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If your users are in a custom store, consider using Username authentication with a custom validator.

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If your clients have certificates, consider using client certificate authentication.

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If your partner applications need to be authenticated when calling WCF services, use client certificate authentication.

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If you are using Username authentication, validate user login information.

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Do not store passwords directly in the user store.

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Enforce strong passwords.

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Protect access to your credential store.

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If you are using client certificate authentication, limit the certificates in the certificate store.


Authorization

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If you store role information in Windows groups, consider using the WCF PrincipalPermissionAttribute class for role authorization.

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If you use ASP.NET roles, use the ASP.NET Role Manager for role authorization.

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If you use Windows groups for authorization, use the ASP.NET role provider with AspNetWindowsTokenRoleProvider.

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If you store role information in SQL Server, consider using the SQL Server role provider for role authorization.

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If you store role information in ADAM, use the Authorization Manager role provider.

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If you store role information in a custom store, create a custom authorization policy.

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If you need to authorize access to WCF operations, use declarative authorization.

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If you need to perform fine-grained authorization based on business logic, use imperative authorization.


Bindings

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If you need to support clients over the Internet, consider using wsHttpBinding.

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If you need to expose your WCF service to legacy clients as an ASMX Web service, use basicHttpBinding.

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If you need to support WCF clients within an intranet, consider using netTcpBinding.

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If you need to support WCF Clients on the same machine, consider using netNamedPipeBinding.

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If you need to support disconnected queued calls, use netMsmqBinding.

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If you need to support bidirectional communication between a WCF client and WCF service, use wsDualHttpBinding or netTcpBinding.


Configuration Management

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Use replay detection to protect against message replay attacks.

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If you host your service in a Windows service, expose a metadata exchange (mex) binding.

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If you don’t want to expose your WSDL, turn off HttpGetEnabled and metadata exchange (mex).

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Encrypt configuration sections that contain sensitive data.


Exception Management

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Use structured exception handling.

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Do not divulge exception details to clients in production.

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Use a fault contract to return error information to clients.

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Use a global exception handler to catch unhandled exceptions.


Hosting

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Run your service in a least-privileged account.

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Use IIS to host your service, unless you need to use a transport that IIS does not support.


Impersonation/Delegation

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Know the tradeoffs involved in impersonation.

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Know your impersonation options.

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Know your impersonation methods.

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Consider using programmatic instead of declarative impersonation.

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When impersonating programmatically, be sure to revert to the original context.

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When impersonating declaratively, only impersonate on the operations that require it.

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When you cannot do a Windows mapping, consider using the S4U feature for impersonation and delegation.

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If your WCF service cannot be trusted for delegation, consider using the LogonUser API.

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If you have to flow the original caller to the back-end services, use constrained delegation.


Message Validation

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If you need to validate parameters, use parameter inspectors.

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Use schemas with message inspectors to validate messages.

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Use regular expressions in schemas to validate format, range, or length.

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Implement the AfterReceiveRequest method to validate inbound messages on the service.

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Implement the BeforeSendReply method to validate outbound messages on the service.

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Implement the AfterReceiveReply method to validate inbound messages on the client.

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Implement the BeforeSendRequest method to validate outbound messages on the client.

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Validate operation parameters for length, range, format, and type.

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Do not rely on client-side validation.

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Avoid user-supplied file name and path input.

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Do not echo untrusted input.


Message Security

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If you need to support clients over the Internet, consider using message security.

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If there are intermediaries between the client and service, consider using message security.

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If you need to support selective message protection, use message security.

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If you need to support multiple transactions per session using secure conversation, use message security.

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Do not pass sensitive information in SOAP headers when using HTTP transport and message security.

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If you need to support interoperability, consider setting negotiateServiceCredentials to false.

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If you need to streamline certificate distribution to your clients, consider negotiating the service credentials.

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If you need to limit the clients that will consume your service, consider setting negotiateServiceCredentials to false.


Transport Security

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Use transport security when possible.

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If you need to support clients in an intranet, use transport security.

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If you need to support interoperability with non-WCF clients, use transport security.

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Use a hardware accelerator when using transport security.


Proxy Considerations

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Publish your WCF service metadata only when required.

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If you need to publish your WCF service metadata, publish it over the HTTPS protocol.

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If you need to publish your WCF service metadata, publish it using secure binding.

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If you turn off mutual authentication, be aware of service spoofing.


Sensitive Data

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Avoid plain-text passwords or other sensitive data in configuration files.

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Use platform features to manage keys where possible.

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Protect sensitive data over the network.

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Do not cache sensitive data.

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Minimize exposure of secrets in memory.

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Be aware that basicHttpBinding will not protect sensitive data by default.

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Use appropriately sized keys.


Deployment Considerations

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Do not use temporary certificates in production.

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If you are using Kerberos authentication or delegation, create an SPN.

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Use IIS to host your WCF service wherever possible.

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Use a least-privileged account to run your WCF service.

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Protect sensitive data in your configuration files.



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