Manage Learn to apply best practices and optimize your operations.

Domino security vulnerabilities to watch for

While often overlooked, Domino is susceptible to an array of Web-centric security vulnerabilities, such as cross-site scripting flaws, anonymous authentication and a lack of SSL enforcement.

It seems the majority of Web security focuses on IIS, SharePoint and Microsoft-based systems. But what about Domino? Where does it fall in the business risk equation? Is it just as vulnerable to common security exploits?

I often come across Domino-based systems in my security assessment work, and I've found several security vulnerabilities that you should know about. These weaknesses are not anything new. They're actually common vulnerabilities across all Web platforms but get overlooked in Domino environments.

Early on, Domino was plagued by numerous security flaws such as internal IP address disclosures, remote authentication bypass issues and weak default permissions. More recently, when testing Domino-based systems, I've come across several cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities.

In my experience, XSS is usually the result of custom code written by developers at end-user organizations who haven't taken the time to sanitize input. Many of these Domino XSS flaws have been discovered out of the box, which is something I don't see very often.

Some additional Web-centric vulnerabilities I've come across in Domino are:

  • Lack of SSL enforcement across entire sites
  • Anonymous authentication that permits perusal of the system configuration databases
  • No intruder lockout, which can facilitate password cracking attacks

I've also recently seen some denial-of-service vulnerabilities; when exploited, they can cripple Domino. A couple of well-known Domino exploits are built right into the free Metasploit tool. A quick search of the Milw0rm exploit code site turns up additional remote exploits that can be run using Metasploit to gain full control of less-than secure Domino systems.

Another odd issue I've run into is that often Web vulnerability scanners are easily tripped up by Domino, resulting in missed security flaws. Sometimes the scanners don't even recognize Domino. This is mostly the lack of attention and resources devoted to Domino by the scanning vendors. Whatever the case, it creates some big problems when people scan their systems, find nothing, and assume all is well.

The key is to not assume that Domino is safe because it's not the 800-pound gorilla. In reality, any public-facing system is fair game. Include Domino in your ongoing security vulnerability assessments and penetration tests, and be sure that whoever's doing the testing is using multiple tools that recognize and understand Domino such as WebInspect and QualysGuard. Finally, perform manual analysis using ethical hacking techniques to get around authentication mechanisms, exploit business logic are being performed.

Kevin Beaver
Kevin Beaver is an information security consultant, expert witness, author, and speaker with Atlanta-based Principle Logic, LLC. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, Kevin specializes in performing independent security assessments revolving around compliance and minimizing information risks. He has authored/co-authored seven books on information security including Hacking For Dummies and Hacking Wireless Networks For Dummies (Wiley). In addition, he's the creator of the Security On Wheels information security audio books and blog providing security learning for IT professionals on the go. Kevin can be reached at

Dig Deeper on Lotus Notes Domino Password Management

  • Favorite iSeries cheat sheets

    Here you'll find a collection of valuable cheat sheets gathered from across the iSeries/ community. These cheat ...