W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-talk@w3.org > March to April 1996

Re: custom authentication functions

From: Mike Meyer <mwm@contessa.phone.net>
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 1996 21:32:35 PST
Message-Id: <19960328.7C253D0.135CE@contessa.phone.net>
To: www-talk@w3.org
> > The "e" flag to ps on BSD-based boxes will give you the environment.
> > To get it all, you want to use "ww" as well. I don't konw SysV boxes
> Right. I'd claim that's a bug in "ps", not a problem to work around in
> the CGI spec that's not even supposed to be UNIX-specific, actually. :-)

I wouldn't call it a bug in ps; ps's job is to give you information
about a process. That's part of the information. That you've chosen to
put information you'd rather not have public in a public area is a
problem in your design; much like a password changing program that
echos the password to the screen.

CGI needs a unix-specific hook to deal with this problem. On platforms
where the process environment isn't public knowledge - or where the
CGI variables aren't in the process environment - this isn't a

> I'd hate to see the fact that the only even-mildly-secure-yet-portable IPC
> under UNIX is pipes cause the CGI spec to have some grodiness like
> additional pipes open to the script just to pass "secure" information.

I haven't looked into solutions to this; I haven't needed them. The
only one I vaguely recall tried passing the authentication information
in a second argument (oops), then wind up feeding it to the CGI script
in front of the data.

> > > Fortunately, our webservers don't have any untrusted users logging in.
> > That depends on who you are trying to protect against,
> I'd also hate to see CGI be unusable with some languages just to keep

This problem doesn't require a change in CGI. CGI is for more than
Unix. Unix systems have to find another solution. Ignoring the problem
is one of them.

> I misspoke. I meant server there. I haven't found a server that would
> pass authentication to the CGI script.

At least two used to. They've both since been fixed to not do that to
avoid the security issues above.

Received on Friday, 29 March 1996 00:40:55 UTC

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