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Insecurely generated token


Secure token generation mechanism


  • Usage of C# for developing robust and efficient applications
  • Usage of Microsoft.AspNetCore.Mvc for building web applications using the ASP.NET Core MVC framework
  • Usage of System.Text for manipulating and encoding text in .NET development


Non compliant code

public class TokenController : Controller
public IActionResult GetToken(string username, string password)
// Insecurely generated token
var token = Convert.ToBase64String(Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes(username + ":" + password));
return Ok(new { token = token });

In the code snippet above, we have a TokenController class which has a GetToken method. This method is supposed to generate a token for a user based on the provided username and password.

The vulnerability lies in the way the token is generated. The GetToken method is concatenating the username and password and then encoding this string in base64. This is a very insecure way of generating a token because:

  • The token is just a base64 encoded version of the username and password, which means anyone who can decode base64 (which is not a cryptographic encoding) can easily obtain the username and password.
  • There is no randomness in the token generation, which means that the same username and password will always generate the same token. This makes it easy for an attacker to generate tokens if they know the username and password.
  • The token does not expire, which means that once an attacker has a token, they can use it indefinitely.

This code is vulnerable to attacks such as brute force attacks, where an attacker could try different combinations of usernames and passwords and generate the corresponding tokens. Once they have a valid token, they can impersonate the user and gain unauthorized access to the system.


  • Use a secure cryptographic mechanism to generate the token.
  • Avoid using simple concatenation of username and password to generate the token.
  • Consider using a secure hashing algorithm, such as SHA-256, to generate the token.
  • Include a salt value in the token generation process to increase security.
  • Ensure that the token is sufficiently long and random to make it difficult to crack.
  • Implement proper token validation and expiration mechanisms to prevent token misuse.

Compliant code

public class TokenController : Controller
private readonly RNGCryptoServiceProvider _cryptoServiceProvider = new RNGCryptoServiceProvider();

public IActionResult GetToken(string username, string password)
// Securely generated token
var salt = new byte[16];

var pbkdf2 = new Rfc2898DeriveBytes(password, salt, 10000);
var hash = pbkdf2.GetBytes(20);

var token = Convert.ToBase64String(salt.Concat(hash).ToArray());
return Ok(new { token = token });

The updated code now uses a secure cryptographic mechanism to generate the token. Instead of simply concatenating the username and password, the code now uses the PBKDF2 (Password-Based Key Derivation Function 2) algorithm to generate the token.

PBKDF2 applies a pseudorandom function, such as a cryptographic hash, cipher, or HMAC to the input password along with a salt value and repeats the process many times to produce a derived key, which can be a ciphertext, a key or an HMAC.

The RNGCryptoServiceProvider class is used to generate a cryptographically strong random salt. The salt and password are then used as inputs to the Rfc2898DeriveBytes class, which implements the PBKDF2 function. The GetBytes method is used to get the derived key, which is then converted to a Base64 string to form the token.

This approach significantly increases the security of the token generation process, as it makes it much more difficult for an attacker to crack the token's hash and obtain the information it is masking. The use of a salt value also increases security by ensuring that even if two users have the same password, their tokens will be different.

In addition, the code should also implement proper token validation and expiration mechanisms to prevent token misuse. This could include checking the token against a list of valid tokens stored on the server, and automatically expiring tokens after a certain period of time or after they have been used.