ColdFusion 10 Provides Powerful New Security Tools

Today marks the release of ColdFusion 10. This release redefines many aspects of the ColdFusion 10 security model and incorporates the principles of the Adobe Secure Product Lifecycle (SPLC). With this release, we’ve worked to improve three major areas: Our goals were to improve patch adoption, improve the default configuration, and to make it easier for developers to create secure ColdFusion applications.

One of the most common reasons for a successful attack against a ColdFusion server is that it doesn’t have the latest security updates. In all fairness, this is not completely the administrator’s fault. Updating a ColdFusion server can be difficult due to the number of manual steps involved. Also, it is easy to miss a security update announcement. With ColdFusion 10, we make both of these steps easier. The ColdFusion 10 administration interface now incorporates a simple “Check For Updates” button. Alternatively, the server can be configured to automatically check for updates and send an email to the administrator once one becomes available.  Finally, the interface allows the developer to apply the patch through a single button click in the administrator interface. These features help make updating the server much more straightforward.

The second major area of improvement focused on making it easier for administrators to securely deploy ColdFusion 10. One of the most attractive characteristics of ColdFusion is that it has always been a simple development environment. Therefore, there were several features that favored making the early phases of development easier by leaving the complicated aspects disabled by default. The cost of this choice was that once developers were ready to deploy to production, they had to review a 35-page lockdown guide to enable and/or configure those more complicated features appropriately. With today’s release, we offer the option of starting the server in a secure-by-default configuration. This greatly simplifies the process of making a server production-ready with a secure configuration.

The last area of improvement focused on providing developers with an increased number of tools for creating secure ColdFusion applications. One example is that we have provided integrated OWASP ESAPI support in the platform. We originally started to include ESAPI in ColdFusion 9 just for our internal needs of addressing cross-site scripting (XSS). Once developers noticed the library in the update, they quickly developed several blogs on how to unofficially start using it in your ColdFusion code. Today’s release formally exposes several aspects of ESAPI through ColdFusion API’s to help developers avoid cross-site scripting vulnerabilities.

We also improved the session management capabilities in ColdFusion–another aspect of making it easier for developers to create ColdFusion applications. We have improved APIs to make it easier to set the HttpOnly and Secure flags on cookies. Session rotation has been improved through new SessionRotate and SessionInvalidate APIs.  To combat cross-site request forgery (CSRF) with active sessions, the ColdFusion team added an API for generating unique tokens for form requests. The team also added support for protecting against clickjacking attacks on active users by adding support for the X-FRAME-OPTIONS header.

ColdFusion 10 is a significant advancement in helping ColdFusion customers improve their secure product lifecycle processes. It is even easier to create secure content, deploy the content on a secure server and manage the server updates once it is deployed. This is only an introduction to the major security enhancements in ColdFusion 10. For more information on all the new security APIs for developers, please see the ColdFusion documentation on Security Enhancements in ColdFusion 10.  ColdFusion administrators should review the Administering Security and the Server Update sections for a complete list of server improvements.