ColdFusion Muse

Forms, Datasets, Looping and Updating - a Simple Example

Mark Kruger January 5, 2011 2:20 PM ColdFusion Comments (7)

Recently my good friend and colleague Mike Klostermeyer - who everyone would recognize as a brilliant programmer and guru if he would just learn to blog - suggested that I include some simpler posts among my obscure troubleshooting play-by-plays. Here's one that most CF programmers have had to overcome at some point. Now before we go on I have to point out that there are 4 or 5 ways to do this - not counting things like Hibernate and the "black box" stuff that ships with many frameworks. What I'm illustrating here is the capabilities of the language. Moreover, if you have to support any legacy code (as 95% of us do) then you don't always have other options. You have to find a solution that works in context. With that in mind let's proceed.

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Another SQLi Attack: Urchin.js

Mark Kruger April 16, 2010 2:11 PM ColdFusion, Coldfusion Security Comments (5)

I spent yesterday cleaning and inoculating another server infected with SQL Injection. Unless you have been living in a cave you know that SQL injection (SQLi) is the most common vulnerability of web based application. This is due to 2 factors - 1) almost all databases use numeric fields and B) web applications by nature pass user input into queries. Of course I could throw in there that web developers are often lax about inoculating their code. There is also the problem of legacy code - code that has been around since the dark ages of the late 90's. Of course SQLi has been around that long as well, but it is surprising how much legacy code chugs along for a decade or more with no problem in spite of the vulnerability.

Anyway, here's the skinny on the latest attack I found. It uses our old friend "Cast" in conjunction with the char() function of MS SQL. Note, this is not a new attack on the web - it's only new to me in that I've never battled this particular attack before.

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Cfobjectcache Docs Wrong? Inconceivable!

Mark Kruger February 17, 2010 6:51 PM ColdFusion Comments (2)

In this post I'm going to claim that part of the official documentation is wrong. Whenever I do this sort of thing I always think of the movie "The Princess Bride" when Enigo says "You kep using that word... I do na think it means what you think it means". Be that as it may, I think the docs in this case are ambiguous at best and at worse downright misleading. There's an obscure little tag called cfobjectcache that's available in ColdFusion server. Although it was a part of ColdFusion 5, I first became aware of this tag in Cf 8. You can find Adobe's documentation for the tag here. If you read the documentation (always a good idea - the muse is great but he doesn't write about everything) you may get the wrong idea about this tag. At the top of the documentation it says (and I quote), "Description: Flushes query cache". Well that's straightforward enough isn't it? This tag is designed to flush the cache of queries on the server. It's easy to use:

<cfobjectcache action="clear"/>
...poof - your query cache is back to square one. Well not so fast my friend...

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Choices for Client Vars: Registry Bad, Datasource Good

Mark Kruger October 27, 2009 12:58 PM ColdFusion Comments (7)

Client Variables and the Registry

Ask any experienced ColdFusion troubleshooter and he will tell you the same thing, "Don't store client variables in the registry." In fact, when examining a sick server one this is one of the first items I look at. If the customer says "It seems like the server stops about every hour" it's a safe bet that the default storage is set to Registry and the default purge interval has been left alone at 1 hour and 7 minutes (which is kind of an odd interval - probably some Adobe employee's anniversary in binary).

In many cases this is a "hidden" problem waiting to burst onto the scenes and bite some poor site owner in his nether regions. The owner launches his or her site and begins to gather traffic with the default settings for client variables. By default ColdFusion stores 90 days worth of client variables in the Registry - so the site can actually perform well for a few months. But then, out of no where, the server starts to drag and even stop every hour or so. Under the hood the purge operation is starting to find client vars that are 90 days old or more and it is taking quite a long time to delete them. The OS sees the registry keys being deleted and (sometimes) attempts to shrink the registry size. This affects a sort of "locking" on the registry where new keys are not being written - meaning requests are queuing and the server is slowing to a crawl. Now you might think that fixing this is as easy as switching from the registry to a datasource or cookie storage as the default, but there are some nuances to this fix that bear mentioning.

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Rebellious Database Programming

Mark Kruger September 22, 2009 10:37 AM ColdFusion Comments (7)

Muse Reader Brian Asks:
Do you know of any way to SQL inject the following if the backend is MSSQL Server

<cfquery ...>
select *
from table
where username = '#FORM.username#'

Occasionally someone asks me this question about CFQUERYPARAM. "Must I use it here or there? In a boat? With a goat?" Yes Sam-I-Am you should make it a habit to use it everywhere. It should be a common part of your best practice guidelines. There are even reasons to use it that go beyond security. Do a quick search for CFQUERYPARAM on this blog and you will find all sorts of information about why to use it and the very rare exceptions (FYI in case you missed the tone here, there is rarely a good reason not to use it).

As for your specific question, I can think of no way to inject the query above. If you moved the query to a MySQL server you might run afoul of the alternate way of escaping single quotes, but on an MSSQL server the query above is safe as far as I know. Just remember, right now some clever hacker in Elbonia is experimenting with ancient character sets, time travel, and a dead cat which he swings over his head while chanting " ring to rule them all..." - all in an effort to try and crack into a query like the one above. So I reiterate, there is no way as far as I know. It's what I don't know that keeps me up at night. You really should just use the tag as a matter of course and stop looking for places to not use it. Let me illustrate with a little story my Dad used to tell me.

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Sharing Lyla Captcha Across Applications

Mark Kruger September 16, 2009 12:15 PM ColdFusion Comments (0)

Here's an interesting problem we had to solve recently. A customer came to us with a suite of ecommerce sites on a single server. The sites were set structurally with a core set of code that supported all the sites and then individual templates that handled the layout and design. This is actually pretty common. The folder structure allowed for site specific stuff to go in the site folder while all the common stuff (everything but specific images and layout stuff) went into the site folders.

Jasmine fishing The application file specific to each site set up the variables needed for that site, then all of the heavy lifting code was called from the "core" folder using includes, custom tags or CFCs. The idea here is to be able to affect the application code of all 50 sites on the server with a single deployment. This is an idea I endorse although there are other ways of doing it. For the scope of this suite of sites it seemed an acceptable solution.

The problem came when we wanted to run code directly from outside the application (meaning the core) without first running it through the application.

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Ask-a-Muse: Using Implicit Constructors

Mark Kruger August 12, 2009 10:36 AM ColdFusion Comments (3)

Muse Reader Howard Asks:
I'm trying to implement the Impel HTML5 ORM on the front-end of a CF powered app. The Impel docs have an example of a PHP JSON web service that is used to return some table version information. They say that the service should return an "array of objects, but I'm a bit stumped as to how their PHP snippet would translate to CF. Could this be a struct? Here's the snippet,

<?php $callback = isset($_REQUEST['callback']) ? $_REQUEST['callback'] : 'callback'; ?>
<?php echo $callback?>([{ "table" : "card", "version" : 1},
{ "table" : "stack", "version" : 1},
{ "table" : "similar_card","version" : 1},
{ "table" : "card_score", "version" : 1} ]);

While I'm not certain I have enough information be sure I'm answering your question, I can tell you that implementing an array of objects is pretty easy if you are using ColdFusion 8. Check this out:

<cfset callback = arraynew(1)/>

<cfset callback[1] = {table = "card", version = 1}/>
<cfset callback[2] = {table = "stack", version = 1}/>
<cfset callback[3] = {table = "similar_card", version = 1}/>
<cfset callback[4] = {table = "card_score", version = 1}/>

<cfdump var="#callback#"/>

Howard, you sound like you already know a good bit of this, but for the rest of you out there I believe this is usually refered to as an "implicit" object constuctor - meaning the type of object created is assumed due to the way the values are arranged in the code. It is a common feature of most languages - including PHP. It is something of a late comer to ColdFusion, but better late than never. Rather than bore you with my own inimitable style I will refer you to the excellent writing and analysis of ColdFusion Guru and all around smarty pants Ben Nadel. See his post on Implicit Struct and Array Creation.

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Examining isDefined()

Mark Kruger August 6, 2009 1:38 PM ColdFusion Comments (7)

While perusing one of my email lists I stumbled onto a behavior of the "isDefined()" function that bears repeating. This function is commonly used in most ColdFusion applications. In fact, I would put it in the top 10 of functions used (perhaps the top 5), so any bug or interesting behavior related to isDefined( ) should warrant some notice. The short description of the problem is that isDefined() may throw an exception during a lengthy request. The conditions have to be just right.

If you are wondering if this behavior is related to an error you are experiencing, one clue is in the exception information. If you are seeing something like "error Error while reading header [VARNAME]" in conjunction with a socket write error (connection reset by peer: socket write error) then you should probably take a closer look at this post.

But before we discuss the behavior, it's important to understand how "isDefined()" works. As you know everything in ColdFusion belongs to some scope or is a member of some object. So ColdFusion has to work it's way down an order of precedence when trying to figure out if something is defined or not. Something like this.

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