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Help needed: Security review #44

simonw opened this issue Jul 14, 2019 · 2 comments


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commented Jul 14, 2019

This is a very sensitive piece of code. I would deeply appreciate getting more eyes on it - so far it's only been me.

I'm going to leave this issue open and encourage security-minded developers to review how datasette-auth-github works and see if there's anything that needs to be tightened up or any potential vulnerabilities I have missed.

@simonw simonw added this to the 1.0 milestone Jul 14, 2019


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commented Jul 14, 2019

I put out a call for security reviews in my blog post here: and on Twitter:

Duplicated from the blog post, here are some specific areas of concern:

  • At a high level: is the way I'm verifying the user through the GitHub API and then storing their identity in a signed cookie the right way to go?
  • The cookie signing secret is derived from the GitHub OAuth application's client_id and client_secret (because that secret is already meant to be a secret), combined with the cookie_version option described above - implementation here. Since this is a derived secret I'm using pbkdf2_hmac with 100,000 iterations. This is by far the most cryptographically interesting part of the code, and could definitely do with some second opinions.
  • The code used to sign and verify cookies is based on Django's (thoroughly reviewed) implementation, but could benefit from a sanity check.
  • I wanted this library to work on Glitch, which currently only provides Python 3.5.2. Python's asyncio HTTP librarys such as http3 and aiohttp both require more modern Pythons, so I ended up rolling my own very simple async HTTP function which uses urllib.request inside a loop.run_in_executor thread pool. Is that approach sound? Rolling my own HTTP client in this way feels a little hairy.

@simonw simonw changed the title Security review Help needed: Security review Jul 14, 2019


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commented Jul 25, 2019

This article on signing is useful:

The way our signed cookies works is as recommended by that article - we don't try to add the signature to the JSON object itself, we instead append it at the end and treat the JSON as dumb bytes.

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