java – Can I turn off the HttpSession in web.xml?-ThrowExceptions

Exception or error:

I would like to eliminate the HttpSession completely – can I do this in web.xml? I’m sure there are container specific ways to do it (which is what crowds the search results when I do a Google search).

P.S. Is this a bad idea? I prefer to completely disable things until I actually need them.

How to solve:

I would like to eliminate the HttpSession completely

You can’t entirely disable it. All you need to do is to just not to get a handle of it by either request.getSession() or request.getSession(true) anywhere in your webapplication’s code and making sure that your JSPs don’t implicitly do that by setting <%@page session="false"%>.

If your main concern is actually disabling the cookie which is been used behind the scenes of HttpSession, then you can in Java EE 5 / Servlet 2.5 only do so in the server-specific webapp configuration. In for example Tomcat you can set the cookies attribute to false in <Context> element.

<Context cookies="false">

Also see this Tomcat specific documentation. This way the session won’t be retained in the subsequent requests which aren’t URL-rewritten –only whenever you grab it from the request for some reason. After all, if you don’t need it, just don’t grab it, then it won’t be created/retained at all.

Or, if you’re already on Java EE 6 / Servlet 3.0 or newer, and really want to do it via web.xml, then you can use the new <cookie-config> element in web.xml as follows to zero-out the max age:

<session-config>
    <session-timeout>1</session-timeout>
    <cookie-config>
        <max-age>0</max-age>
    </cookie-config>
</session-config>

If you want to hardcode in your webapplication so that getSession() never returns a HttpSession (or an “empty” HttpSession), then you’ll need to create a filter listening on an url-pattern of /* which replaces the HttpServletRequest with a HttpServletRequestWrapper implementation which returns on all getSession() methods null, or a dummy custom HttpSession implementation which does nothing, or even throws UnsupportedOperationException.

@Override
public void doFilter(ServletRequest request, ServletResponse response, FilterChain chain) throws IOException, ServletException {
    chain.doFilter(new HttpServletRequestWrapper((HttpServletRequest) request) {
        @Override
        public HttpSession getSession() {
            return null;
        }
        @Override
        public HttpSession getSession(boolean create) {
            return null;
        }
    }, response);
}

P.S. Is this a bad idea? I prefer to completely disable things until I actually need them.

If you don’t need them, just don’t use them. That’s all. Really ­čÖé

Answer´╝Ü

If you are building a stateless high load application you can disable using cookies for session tracking like this (non-intrusive, probably container-agnostic):

<session-config>
    <tracking-mode>URL</tracking-mode>
</session-config>

To enforce this architectural decision write something like this:

public class PreventSessionListener implements HttpSessionListener {
@Override
public void sessionCreated(HttpSessionEvent se) {
    throw new IllegalStateException("Session use is forbidden");
}

@Override
public void sessionDestroyed(HttpSessionEvent se) {
    throw new IllegalStateException("Session use is forbidden");
}
}

And add it to web.xml and fix places where it fails with that exception:

<listener>
    <listener-class>com.ideas.bucketlist.web.PreventSessionListener</listener-class>
</listener>

Answer´╝Ü

I use the following method for my RESTful app to remove any inadvertent session cookies from being created and used.

<session-config>
    <session-timeout>1</session-timeout>
    <cookie-config>
        <max-age>0</max-age>
    </cookie-config>
</session-config>

However, this does not turn off HttpSessions altogether. A session may still be created by the application inadvertently, even if it disappears in a minute and a rogue client may ignore the max-age request for the cookie as well.

The advantage of this approach is you don’t need to change your application, just web.xml. I would recommend you create an HttpSessionListener that will log when a session is created or destroyed so you can track when it occurs.

Answer´╝Ü

In Spring Security 3 with Java Config, you can use HttpSecurity.sessionManagement():

@Override
protected void configure(final HttpSecurity http) throws Exception {
    http
        .sessionManagement()
            .sessionCreationPolicy(SessionCreationPolicy.STATELESS);
}

Xml looks like this;

<http create-session="stateless">
  <!-- config -->
</http>

By the way, the difference between NEVER and STATELESS

NEVER:Spring Security will never create an HttpSession, but will use
the HttpSession if it already exists

STATELESS:Spring Security will never create an HttpSession and it will
never use it to obtain the SecurityContext

Answer´╝Ü

Rather than disabling you can rewrite the URL using a URL rewrite filter eg tuckey rewrite filter. This will give Google friendly results but still allow cookie based session handling.

However, you should probably disable it for all responses as it’s worse than just search engine unfriendly. It exposes the session ID which can be used for certain security exploits.

Example config for Tuckey filter:

<outbound-rule encodefirst="true">
  <name>Strip URL Session ID's</name>
  <from>^(.*?)(?:\;jsessionid=[^\?#]*)?(\?[^#]*)?(#.*)?$</from>
  <to>$1$2$3</to>
</outbound-rule>

Answer´╝Ü

I would like to eliminate the HttpSession completely – can I do this in web.xml? I’m sure there are container specific ways to do it

I don’t think so. Disabling the HttpSession would be a violation of the Servlet spec which states that HttpServletRequest#getSession should return a session or create one. So I wouldn’t expect a Java EE container to provide such a configuration option (that would make it non compliant).

Is this a bad idea? I prefer to completely disable things until I actually need them.

Well, I don’t really get the point, just don’t put anything in the session if you don’t want to use it. Now, if you really want to prevent the use of the session, you can use a Filter to replace the request with a implementation of HttpServletRequestWrapper overriding getSession(). But I wouldn’t waste time implementing this ­čÖé

Update: My initial suggestion was not optimal, the “right” (cough) way would be to replace the request.

Answer´╝Ü

As of Servlet 3.0, you can make it so sessions are not tracked by the servlet container in any way, by adding code like this to the contextInitialized method of a ServletContextListener:

servletContext.setSessionTrackingModes(Collections.emptySet());

Javadoc.

Answer´╝Ü

For RESTful application, I simply invalidate it every time the request’s lifecycle ends. There may be some web server that always creates new session when new client access whether you call request.getSession() or not.

Answer´╝Ü

One cannot avoid the session creation. But you can check if you violate your own requirement at the end of a request cycle. So, create a simple servlet filter, which you place as first and after chain.doFilter throw an exception if a session was created:

chain.doFilter(request, response);
if(request.getSession(false) != null)
    throw new RuntimeException("Somewhere request.getSession() was called");

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