Unchecked redirect vulnerabilities are annoying to fix for our customers. Sometimes the developers need to link to a constantly changing selection of partners and they always have to support different redirect URLs for testing, integration, and production. Sometimes these redirect mechanisms span different applications even though they live on the same domain, too. Given the unstable nature of the “targets” and the cross-application centralization of these redirect mechanisms, we need some smarter alternatives.

What we’ve been recommending customers do to accommodate this target flux allows them to maintain a dynamic target without putting them at risk to phishing attacks. There are a number of creative solutions, and if you’ve got any more please comment:

  1. Change the functionality to use POST instead of GET, and require a POST before redirecting. The attacker can’t force your browser to issue a POST without bouncing you off an intermediary, evil site. And if they do that, they could just redirect you to the phishing page directly anyway.
  2. Set the target of the redirect in a cookie and let the “bounce” functionality read it from there. The attacker can’t force your browser to send arbitrary cookies with cross-site requests, so you’re safe with this technique.
  3. Symmetrically encrypt the contents of the redirect target. You can still have a constantly-in-flux list of redirect targets and still maintain assurance that attackers can’t abuse your functionality for phishing.
  4. Set the target of the redirect in a session variable and let the “bounce” functionality read it from there. The attacker can’t  populate a victim’s session variables without abusing another vulnerability. For some redirect scenarios this may simply shift the dynamic work somewhere else but at least at that point you have architectural enforcement of your security mechanism.

Hope that helps!