Home » Is BASIC-Auth secure if done over HTTPS?

Is BASIC-Auth secure if done over HTTPS?


There are a few issues with HTTP Basic Auth:

  • The password is sent over the wire in base64 encoding (which can be easily converted to plaintext).
  • The password is sent repeatedly, for each request. (Larger attack window)
  • The password is cached by the webbrowser, at a minimum for the length of the window / process. (Can be silently reused by any other request to the server, e.g. CSRF).
  • The password may be stored permanently in the browser, if the user requests. (Same as previous point, in addition might be stolen by another user on a shared machine).

Of those, using SSL only solves the first. And even with that, SSL only protects until the webserver – any internal routing, server logging, etc, will see the plaintext password.

So, as with anything it’s important to look at the whole picture.

Does HTTPS protect the password in transit? Yes.

Is that enough? Usually, no. (I want to say, always no – but it really depends on what your site is and how secure it needs to be.)

Try to think of it this way: When you are logging in to any website using SSL, you are most likely passing password in plain-text over HTTPS (for eg GMail).

The only difference that Basic-Auth makes is that username/password is passed in the request headers instead of the request body (GET/POST).

As such, using basic-auth+https is no less or more secure than a form based authentication over HTTPS.

Basic Auth over HTTPS is good, but it’s not completely safe. Similar to how Fiddler works for SSL debugging, a corporate HTTPS proxy is managing the connection between the web browser and the Proxy (whose IP address appears in your webserver logs). In that case the HTTPS password is decrypted, and later re-encrypted at the corporate proxy.

Depending on who is managing the proxy, and how its logs are used, this may be acceptable or a bad thing from your perspective.

For more information on how SSL interception is done, see this link:

When the SSL Proxy intercepts an SSL
connection, it presents an emulated
server certificate to the client
browser. The client browser issues a
security pop-up to the end-user
because the browser does not trust the
issuer used by the ProxySG. This
pop-up does not occur if the issuer
certificate used by SSL Proxy is
imported as a trusted root in the
client browser’s certificate store.

The ProxySG makes all configured
certificates available for download
via its management console. You can
ask end users to download the issuer
certificate through Internet Explorer
or Firefox and install it as a trusted
CA in their browser of choice. This
eliminates the certificate popup for
emulated certificates…

Some companies get around the certificate pop-up issue mentioned above by deploying the root certificates (of the Proxy) to each workstation via GPO. Although this will only affect software that uses the Microsoft Certificate store. Software such as Firefox needs to be updated differently.

Related Solutions

Custom query with Castle ActiveRecord

In this case what you want is HqlBasedQuery. Your query will be a projection, so what you'll get back will be an ArrayList of tuples containing the results (the content of each element of the ArrayList will depend on the query, but for more than one value will...

What is the “You have new mail” message in Linux/UNIX?

Where is this mail? It's likely to be in the spool file: /var/mail/$USER or /var/spool/mail/$USER are the most common locations on Linux and BSD. (Other locations are possible – check if $MAIL is set – but by default, the system only informs you about...

How can I find the implementations of Linux kernel system calls?

System calls aren't handled like regular function calls. It takes special code to make the transition from user space to kernel space, basically a bit of inline assembly code injected into your program at the call site. The kernel side code that "catches" the...

Is a composite index also good for queries on the first field?

It certainly is. We discussed that in great detail under this related question: Working of indexes in PostgreSQL Space is allocated in multiples of MAXALIGN, which is typically 8 bytes on a 64-bit OS or (much less common) 4 bytes on a 32-bit OS. If you are not...

Explaining computational complexity theory

Hoooo, doctoral comp flashback. Okay, here goes. We start with the idea of a decision problem, a problem for which an algorithm can always answer "yes" or "no." We also need the idea of two models of computer (Turing machine, really): deterministic and...

Building a multi-level menu for umbraco

First off, no need pass the a parent parameter around. The context will transport this information. Here is the XSL stylesheet that should solve your problem: <!-- update this variable on how deep your menu should be --> <xsl:variable...

How to generate a random string?

My favorite way to do it is by using /dev/urandom together with tr to delete unwanted characters. For instance, to get only digits and letters: tr -dc A-Za-z0-9 </dev/urandom | head -c 13 ; echo '' Alternatively, to include more characters from the OWASP...

How to copy a file from a remote server to a local machine?

The syntax for scp is: If you are on the computer from which you want to send file to a remote computer: scp /file/to/send username@remote:/where/to/put Here the remote can be a FQDN or an IP address. On the other hand if you are on the computer wanting to...

What is the difference between curl and wget?

The main differences are: wget's major strong side compared to curl is its ability to download recursively. wget is command line only. There's no lib or anything, but curl's features are powered by libcurl. curl supports FTP, FTPS, HTTP, HTTPS, SCP, SFTP, TFTP,...

Using ‘sed’ to find and replace [duplicate]

sed is the stream editor, in that you can use | (pipe) to send standard streams (STDIN and STDOUT specifically) through sed and alter them programmatically on the fly, making it a handy tool in the Unix philosophy tradition; but can edit files directly, too,...

How do I loop through only directories in bash?

You can specify a slash at the end to match only directories: for d in */ ; do echo "$d" done If you want to exclude symlinks, use a test to continue the loop if the current entry is a link. You need to remove the trailing slash from the name in order for -L to...

How to clear journalctl

The self maintenance method is to vacuum the logs by size or time. Retain only the past two days: journalctl --vacuum-time=2d Retain only the past 500 MB: journalctl --vacuum-size=500M man journalctl for more information. You don't typically clear the journal...

How can I run a command which will survive terminal close?

One of the following 2 should work: $ nohup redshift & or $ redshift & $ disown See the following for a bit more information on how this works: man nohup help disown Difference between nohup, disown and & (be sure to read the comments too) If your...

Get exit status of process that’s piped to another

bash and zsh have an array variable that holds the exit status of each element (command) of the last pipeline executed by the shell. If you are using bash, the array is called PIPESTATUS (case matters!) and the array indicies start at zero: $ false | true $...

Execute vs Read bit. How do directory permissions in Linux work?

When applying permissions to directories on Linux, the permission bits have different meanings than on regular files. The read bit (r) allows the affected user to list the files within the directory The write bit (w) allows the affected user to create, rename,...

What are the pros and cons of Vim and Emacs? [closed]

I use both, although if I had to choose one, I know which one I would pick. Still, I'll try to make an objective comparison on a few issues. Available everywhere? If you're a professional system administrator who works with Unix systems, or a power user on...