Coldbox and VueJS untangled

Category: Coldbox (Page 2 of 3)

Using bCrypt in cbsecurity

In a previous post I explained why bCrypt is a good choice for hashing your passwords. In this post I will show were you can hash and check your passwords: in your handlers, in a service layer or in some entity model. When using cbsecurity I will show you why it fits best in your service layer or entity model.

But let’s start with some hashing and checking in a handler. Make sure bcrypt is installed by using commandbox and execute the command:

box install bcrypt

Let’s say you want to store your password in a db table. Bcrypt has two important methods for hashing and checking called hashPassword() and checkPassword() but you have to call them on a bcrypt instance, so you can inject bcrypt in a handler:

property name="bCrypt" inject="BCrypt@BCrypt";

or getting your instance directly by calling getInstance("BCrypt@BCrypt"). But you don’t have to do this, by installing the module some mixin helpers are created so you can just call bCryptHash() or bCryptCheck(). These handy functions will be available in all handlers, views, layouts or even interceptors. So let’s say we want to save a user in some handler it will look like this:

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cbOrm: populating new objects

In the past I’ve been using cborm a lot, since it makes handling coldfusion (hibernate) ORM so much easier. But lucee support for ORM was less than optimal in a multi-datasource environment, so I decided to rewrite this application more or less according to the fluent API approach as demonstrated by Gavin Pickin at ITB 2020. In this coding style I have two quite efficient ways of populating a new object:

property name="UserService" inject;

//populate
var user = populateModel(
  model=UserService.new(), 
  memento=myUserData 
);

//vs a shorter method
var user = UserService.new( myUserData );

Both should return the same populated user object, but the second one does the population within the new() method, so I got used to using this handy method.

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Arguments in arguments…

I have to admit. This is not the most useful post I ever wrote, but today I discovered something funny but interesting when I tried to fix some small bug. I was working with the bcrypt module. If you don’t know what this module is doing: it is a very secure way for hashing passwords, and since checking the validity of your password is relatively slow it is quite useful to prevent password cracking. Before diving into bugfixing let’s see what bcrypt is doing. It is a coldbox module and only has a few relevant functions:

  • hashPassword(password, [ workfactor], [salt]) which generates a password hash based on a salt and a workfactor. If you don’t supply a workFactor or salt, the coldbox module will generate a salt with a default workfactor of 12. The higher the workfactor, the longer it takes to check for a valid password. (on my system a workfactor means it takes 200 milliseconds to check for a valid password.
  • checkPassword( candidate, bCryptHash) will check a password candidate agains a (stored) bcryptHash.
  • generateSalt( workFactor ) will generate a salt, based on a workFactor. Increasing a workfactor by 1 will mean it takes double the time to check your bCryptHash. This way you can prevent password attacks, because generating and checking is relatively slow.
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Protecting your passwords with bCrypt.

We all know. We should never ever store a plaintext password in a database. If a hacker gains access to your data you will be in serious trouble. There are many ways to protect your data, but at least you should make sure your passwords are not readable. In the past we did this by some simple hashing, but modern computers are so fast it is easy to do some password cracking. In time it even gets easier because processors are becoming faster and faster. Another disadvantage: simple hashing will reveal some records with the same passwords. These are often the easiest to guess or crack by brute force. So we need something better.

Coldbox has a nice little module called bcrypt, which is just a wrapper to the jBcrypt java library which is a Java™ implementation of OpenBSD’s Blowfish password hashing code. Wikipedia has a nice description of the bcrypt password hashing algoritme. Bcrypt hash some strong points:

  • generating a hash for the same string will always return different results
  • comparing a password candidate with the stored hash is relatively slow, which makes brute force attacks harder.
  • the hash can be generated with different workfactors. The higher the workfactor, the more time it takes to compare your hash with a password candidate. By increasing the workfactor in time you can account for faster processors, so brute-force attacks remain unattractive.
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qb: Autodetecting your bind variables in SQL

In an ideal world, everyone is using qb or quick, and you really don’t know what a bind variable is. Before you discovered this ideal world, maybe you were using queryExecute and were executing queries like this one.

var q =queryExecute("Select * from users where userId = #url.UserId#");

This kind of code ( don’t do this in production ! ) is wide open for sql injection attacks. This post is not about sql injection, so we assume you were already so smart to use queryparams, so something similar to this.

var q = queryExecute(
  sql="Select * from users where userId = :myId",
  params =  { myId: { value = rc.UserId, cfsqlType = "integer" }
)
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Cfcompile to the rescue (part 2)

A few days ago I blogged about some annoying lucee or coldbox behaviour. On syntax errors in components often I didn’t get feedback on the offending file or line numbers. This makes it very hard to debug your application if you made changes in several files at once. After my post I was contacted by Zac Spitzer who asked me if I could file a bug. I already did this a few months ago, but they couldn’t reproduce my case. So we talked about this bug and I digged a little deeper to find out what was wrong.

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Cfcompile to the rescue

This is a story about sloppiness, dislexia, or maybe my touch typing skill are just lacking when coding. I also hear friends telling me their cat is sleeping on the keyboard. To add to this disaster, Lucee is not very helpful when trying to decipher my typo’s. I wonder if you ever saw a screen like this:

We all see these ugly screens sometimes, but usually they provide some information on an error. But not this time…

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CbValidation: UDF or Customvalidator?

Yesterday someone had an interesting use case for the cbvalidation library. I presented at ITB2020 about cbvalidation, and I’ve contributed some code so I thought it had no secrets anymore. But when trying to solve this case I discovered cbvalidation still had some hidden lines for me. When discussing this validation problem we tried to solve it with UDF validators, but -spoiler alert-finally we agreed it was not powerful enough. So time to build a CustomValidator, which is a lot easier than you might think.

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Input validation with full null support

Adobe introduced full null support in ColdFusion 2018. Before 2018 null values returned by databases and external systems were converted to empty strings. This behaviour made it almost impossible to distinguish between empty strings and null values, and also caused issues with serialization and deserialization. You also had to take special precautions to insert or update null values in a database. Interaction with Java, including CFORM based hibernate could also result in returned null values so we always had te be very careful when trying to handle these dreaded nulls.

Lucee already has full null support since many years, but just as with the latest ACF version, you have to enable this in the administrator, just to stay compatible with older versions of ACF.

So, because of all these null handling issues, why not enable full null support? That’s what we imagined when creating our latest REST based application. But before hurrying to your admin panel better think if it will break something.

Before the Modernize or die times as promoted by Ortus Solutions there were many ways to find out in Coldbox if all input variables existed. Let me give these two JSON examples, both are used for the creation of a user in the body of a post request:

//first example, customer_id as a null value because customer is not selected yet
{
    "customer_id": null,
    "username": "wdb",
    "password": "topsecret"
}
//second example, customer_id omitted because customer is not selected yet
{
    "username": "wdb",
    "password": "topsecret"
}

When we post this userdata, I want to validate if my customer_id is there so I can populate some required customer field. When null support is not enabled we have a few options to check if we have a usable customer_id.

function createUser( event, rc, prc ) {
  //option 1
  if ( event.valueExists("customer_id") ){
    //....
  }
  //option 2
  if ( structKeyExists(rc,"customer_id") ){
    //....
  }
  //option 3
  if ( !isNull(rc.customer_id) ){
    //....
  }

The first options seems to make sense. Event.valueExists is a way to check if my customer_id is a value in my request collection.
The second options is slightly more low level, it just checks the request collection for the existence of customer_id.
The third option is a little bit more direct. It just checks if rc.customer_id is not null so I can continue.

So it seems it doesn’t matter which method I use. But now I enable full null support, and the whole landscape is changing. In the previous part I just assumed the key should be there, or not be null.

But now I have to know what my frontEnd VueJS developer is doing. Is he sending a null value for customer_id if there is no customer selection yet? Or is he only sending values in the JSON body which already have a value? This will make a lot of difference .

If my frondend developer is sending null values and I enable null support in CFML my event.valueExists and StructKeyExists() checks are completely useless, because my customer_id variable now does exist in the request collection. The problem here is it’s value is useless, because I can’t retrieve a required customer based on a null value. So the only safe check now is the !Isnull(rc.customer_id) .

The situation is still a bit different if you also want to be able to update a database based on the input of a null value. In that case you have to check for both Event.ValueExists AND IsNull.

The above examples seem quite trivial, but a word of warning is appropriate here. You really have to know how your frontend application should handle these null values. Are you validating ALL properties, or only the properties which have been entered by the user?

A second important point is the handling of nulls in some of your supporting libraries. We failed a lot of tests because one of our libraries tried to determine the datatype of our input automatically. Since null values have no datatype the library failed. This was fixed very soon, but especially when using some older libraries or modules you really should take a close look at the code when possible.

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