Removing chatty HTTP headers

If you look into the traffic of your ASP.NET application, you can notice the following headers in the HTTP response:

Server: Microsoft-IIS/8.0
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
X-AspNet-Version: 4.0.30319
X-AspNetMvc-Version: 5.0

These headers have no effect on your application in any way, they are just there to provide more information to the Bing bot about your website.

Unfortunately these response headers make the attackers’ jobs easier, because if they know what platform and what version do you use, they can try only those exploits that work in this special environment. Therefore for security reasons it is a good practice to change the defaults and remove these headers.



Broadcasting the Server header is hardwired into IIS, I’m not aware of any configuration switch you could use to remove it. You can use UrlScan, but that tool was updated last time in 2008. If you have an ASP.NET application, you can remove this header in the global.asax, just before the response leaves the server:

protected void Application_PreSendRequestHeaders()
  this.Response.Headers.Remove( "Server" ); }



The X-Powered-By header is added by IIS to the HTTP response, so you can remove it even on server level via IIS Manager:



Or of course you can use web.config directly:

       <remove name="X-Powered-By" />



The ASP.NET runtime provides a configuration option to easily turn off the X-AspNet-Version header in web.config:

<httpRuntime enableVersionHeader="false" />



To remove the X-AspNet-Version header, execute the following code when your application starts:

protected void Application_Start()
MvcHandler.DisableMvcResponseHeader = true; }


If you want to make security easier, you can rely on the NWebsec free project on CodePlex. This project besides simplifying configuration security, provides additional features for session hardening and specifically for MVC and Azure projects. These features are available independently in the form of NuGet packages as well.


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