Logging in and maintaining a valid session

Arachni supports automated logout detection and re-login, as well as improved login procedures.
This article will go through all the different ways you can let Arachni know of what needs to be done in order to perform a login and maintain a valid session during the scan.

Autologin plugin

The autologin plugin expects for following options:

  • url -- The URL containing the login form;
  • parameters -- A URL-query-like string of form parameters;
  • check -- A pattern to be matched against the response body after requesting the supplied URL in order to verify a successful login.

After a successful login, the plugin will configure the system-wide session manager and let it know of the procedure it needs to follow in order to be able to login automatically, in case it gets logged out during the scan or the session expires.

Hint: If the response of the form submission doesn't contain the check, you can set a different check URL via the global --session-check-url option, this will also require that a --session-check-pattern be set as well (it can be the same as the autologin check option).


This plugin operates a browser just like a regular user would and is thus limited to the same extent.
For example, if the login form is by default hidden and requires a sequence of UI interactions in order to become visible, this plugin will not be able to submit it.

For more complex sequences please use the login_script plugin.


arachni http://testfire.net --plugin=autologin:url=http://testfire.net/bank/login.aspx,parameters="uid=jsmith&passw=Demo1234",check="Sign Off|MY ACCOUNT" --scope-exclude-pattern=logout

The login form found in http://testfire.net/bank/login.aspx which contains the uid and passw inputs will be updated with the given values and submitted.

After that, the response will be matched against the check pattern -- which will also be used for the duration of the scan to check whether or not the session is still valid.
Since the "Sign Off" and "MY ACCOUNT" strings only appear when the user is logged-in, they are a reliable way to check the validity of the session.

Lastly, we exclude (--scope-exclude-pattern) the logout link from the audit in order to avoid getting logged out.

Login script plugin

The login_script plugin can be used in order to specify custom login procedures, as simple Ruby or JS scripts, to be executed prior to the scan and each time a logout is detected.


The script will be run under the context of a plugin, which means that it will have access to all system components, allowing you to login in the most optimal way -- be that via a real browser, via HTTP requests, by loading an external cookie-jar file and many more.

With browser (slow)

If a browser is available, it will be exposed to the script via the browser variable. Otherwise, that variable will have a value of nil.

browser.goto 'http://testfire.net/bank/login.aspx'

form = browser.form( id: 'login' )
form.text_field( name: 'uid' ).set 'jsmith'
form.text_field( name: 'passw' ).set 'Demo1234'


# You can also configure the session check from the script, dynamically,
# if you don't want to set static options via the user interface.
framework.options.session.check_url     = browser.url
framework.options.session.check_pattern = /Sign Off|MY ACCOUNT/

Without browser (fast)

If a real browser environment is not required for the login operation, then using the system-wide HTTP interface is preferable, as it will be much faster and consume much less resources.

response = http.post( 'http://testfire.net/bank/login.aspx',
    parameters:     {
        'uid'   => 'jsmith',
        'passw' => 'Demo1234'
    mode:           :sync,
    update_cookies: true

framework.options.session.check_url     = to_absolute( response.headers.location, response.url )
framework.options.session.check_pattern = /Sign Off|MY ACCOUNT/

If an external process is used to manage sessions, you can keep Arachni in sync by loading cookies from a shared Netscape-style cookie-jar file.

http.cookie_jar.load 'cookies.txt'

Advanced session check configuration

In addition to just setting the check_url and check_pattern options, you can also set arbitrary HTTP request ptions for the login check, to cover cases where extra tokens or a method other than GET must be used.

session.check_options = {
    # :get, :post, :put, :delete
    method:     :post,

    # URL query parameters.
    parameters: {
        'param1' => 'value'

    # Request body parameters -- can also be a String instead of Hash.
    body:       {
        'body_param1' => 'value'

    cookies:    {
        'custom_cookie' => 'value'

    headers:    {
        'X-Custom-Header' => 'value'


When the given script has a .js file extension, it will be loaded and executed in the browser, within the page of the target URL.

document.getElementById( 'uid' ).value   = 'jsmith';
document.getElementById( 'passw' ).value = 'Demo1234';

document.getElementById( 'login' ).submit();

Proxy plugin

The proxy plugin can be used to train the system by inspecting the traffic exchanged between the browser and the web application. From that traffic, it can extract input vectors like links, forms and cookies from both sides -- i.e. from server responses as well as browser requests.

Since the proxy can inspect all this traffic, it can be instructed to record a login sequence and then deduce the login form and the values with which it was filled.

Like the autologin plugin, the proxy plugin will configure the system accordingly.


arachni http://testfire.net --plugin=proxy --scope-exclude-pattern=logout

You then need to configure your browser to use this proxy when connecting to the webapp, press the record button just before logging in and the stop button after.
You'll then be presented with a simple wizard which will guide you through configuring a login check and verifying that the deduced login sequence works properly.

Lastly, we exclude (--scope-exclude-pattern=logout) the logout link from the audit in order to avoid getting logged out.

If the aforementioned techniques don't work for you, you can pass a cookie-jar and manually configure the login-check using the following options:

This way Arachni will still be able to know if it gets logged out (which is helpful to several system components) but won't be able to log-in automatically.

Of course, you should still exclude any path that can lead to the destruction of the session.