Posts tagged ‘application scope’

So far we have seen that to secure our shared hosting customers from each other we need to place them in a Sandbox limiting file system access, datasource access and disabling access to cfexecute, cfobject and CreateObject(JAVA/COM/.NET) . Typically I add cfregistry to the list of disallowed tags as well. While not strictly necessary for security (you are running ColdFusion with a non-privileged account, aren’t you?), the registry is a shared resource that is easily fragmented and has a limited size, so I just want to keep customers out.


The problem we have now is that apart from the functionality we intended to disable we have inadvertently disabled some more functionality, including the cfdump tag. In the directory /WEB-INF/cftags/ are a number of .cfm templates that implement tags and one of them is dump.cfm. But since this tag is included much like a customtag would be included, it runs with the same permissions that a normal customtag would be running. And those permissions disable the use of CreateObject(JAVA), causing cfdump to throw an error when some datatypes are dumped.

The workaround (go ask Adobe for a solution) is to replace /WEB-INF/cftags/dump.cfm with a custom dump template. I have made the one I use available as a download. It isn’t pretty, it doesn’t dump Java objects (but shared hosting customers can’t create them anyway), but it does the job.


cfinterface is another one of the tags implemented in CFML in /WEB-INF/cftags/. If you try to use a component implementing an interface you will notice that this throws an error. Apparently we need to grant read and execute permissions on that directory to every Sandbox (you can adapt the script I posted before for that). I just ran into this this weekend when I updated my dump template to show interface information as well, so I guess that shows how much I use shared hosting myself.

The ColdFusion Administrator and Admin API

In ColdFusion 8 Adobe introduced multiple user accounts and permission delegation for the ColdFusion Administrator and the Admin API.  I have my doubts about delegating access to the ColdFusion Administrator in a shared hosting environment since the delegation is based on functionality and not on Sandboxes. So that means you can delegate access to see certain features, such as the logfiles, but not certain features for a specific Sandbox, i.e. the logfiles of a specific customer. Since pretty much every feature in the Administrator I can delegate has security implications, I can not delegate anything.

With the  Admin API the situation is even worse. Internally the Admin API has been implemented in CFML and it suffers from the same problem as cfdump: it uses cfobject and createobject(JAVA) functionality that we can not enable without giving users the ability to upgrade themselves to root administrator. The only way we can use them is in our own management scripts and as a backend invoked through some facade we need to write first.

Application scope variables

ColdFusion piggybacks its application scope variables on the Java application scope. This allows for an integration in the application scope between for instance ColdFusion and JSP code: variables you write in one are available in the other. The downside is that on the Java side the application scope is considered an instance wide scope and all data is accessible. That means that whatever customer A puts in the application scope is accessible to customer B. Put the following in your Application.cfc to see how that works:

	<cfset = "" />
	<cffunction name="onRequestStart">
		<cfdump var="#application#" />
		<cfabort />

This sharing of the application scope is by design and as a result it is unsafe to store data in the application scope on a shared host.