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Apache > HTTP Server > Documentation > Version 2.5 > Modules

Apache Module mod_policy

Available Languages:  en 

Description:HTTP protocol compliance enforcement.
Status:Extension
Module Identifier:policy_module
Source File:mod_policy.c

Summary

The HTTP protocol recommends that clients should be "liberal in what they accept", and servers "strict with what they send". In some cases it can be difficult to detect when a server or an application has been misconfigured, is serving uncacheable content or is behaving suboptimally, as an HTTP client might be compensating for the server. These problems can potentially lead to excessive bandwidth consumption, or a server outage under load.

The mod_policy module consists of a set of filters that test servers for HTTP protocol compliance. These tests allow the server administrator to log violations of, or outright reject responses where certain defined conditions exist.

This could be used as a way to set minimum HTTP protocol compliance criteria for a restful application. Alternatively, a reverse proxy or cache could be configured to protect itself from misconfigured origin servers or unexpectedly uncacheable content, or as a mechanism to detect configuration mistakes within the server itself.

Directives

Topics

See also

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Actions

If a policy is violated, one of the following actions can be taken:

ignore
The policy check will be ignored for the given URL space, even if the filter is present.
log
The policy check will be executed, and if a violation is detected a warning will be logged to the server error_log, and a Warning header added to the response for the benefit of the client.
enforce
The policy check will be executed, and if a violation is detected an error will be logged to the server error_log, a Warning header added to the response, and a 502 Bad Gateway will be returned to the client. Optional links to explanatory documentation can be added to each error message, detailing the origin of each policy.

It is also possible to selectively disable all policies for a given URL space, should the need arise, using the PolicyFilter directive.

Alternatively, the PolicyEnvironment directive can be used to specify an environment variable, which if present, will cause the policies to be selectively downgraded or bypassed.

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Policy Tests

The following policy filters are available:

POLICY_TYPE : Enforce valid content types
Content types that are syntactically invalid or blank can be detected and the request rejected. Types can be restricted to a specific list containing optional wildcards ? and *.
POLICY_LENGTH : Enforce the presence of a Content-Length
The length of responses can be specified in one of three ways, by specifying an explicit length in advance, using chunked encoding to set the length, or by setting no length at all and terminating the request when complete. The absence of a specific content length can affect the cacheability of the response, and prevents the use of keepalive during HTTP/1.0 requests. This policy enforces the presence of an explicit content length on the response.
POLICY_KEEPALIVE : Enforce the option to keepalive
Less restrictive than the POLICY_LENGTH test, this policy enforces the possibility that the response can be kept alive. If the response doesn't have a protocol defined zero length, and the response isn't already an error, and the response has neither a Content-Length or is declared HTTP/1.1 and lacks Content-Encoding: chunked, then this response will be rejected.
POLICY_VARY : Enforce the absence of certain headers within Vary headers
If the Vary header contains any of the headers specified, this policy will reject the request. The typical case is the presence of the User-Agent within Vary, which is likely to cause a denial of service condition to a cache.
POLICY_VALIDATION: Enforce the presence of Etag and/or Last-Modified
The ability for a cache to determine whether a cached entity can be refreshed is dependent on whether a valid Etag and/or Last-Modified header is present to revalidate against. The absence of both headers, or the invalid syntax of a header will cause this policy to be rejected.
POLICY_CONDITIONAL: Enforce correct operation of conditional requests
When conditional headers are present in the request, a server should respond with a 304 Not Modified or 412 Precondition Failed response where appropriate. A server may ignore conditional headers, and this affects the efficiency of the HTTP caching mechanism. This policy rejects requests where a conditional header is present, and a 304 or 412 response code was expected, but a 2xx response was seen instead.
POLICY_NOCACHE : Enforce cacheable responses
When a response is encountered that declares itself explicitly uncacheable, the request is rejected. A response is considered uncacheable if it specifies any of the following:
  • Cache-Control: no-cache
  • Pragma: no-cache
  • Cache-Control: no-store
  • Cache-Control: private
POLICY_MAXAGE : Enforce a minimum maxage
When a response is encountered where the freshness lifetime is less than the given value, or the freshness lifetime is heuristic, the request is rejected. A response is checked in the following order:
  • If s-maxage is present but too small; or
  • If max-age is present but too small; or
  • If Expires is present and invalid; or
  • Date is present and invalid; or
  • Expires minus Date is too small; or
  • No s-maxage, maxage, or Expires/Date declared at all
POLICY_VERSION : Enforce a minimum HTTP version within a request
When a request is encountered with an HTTP version number less than the required minimum version, the request is rejected. The following version numbers are recognised:
  • HTTP/1.1
  • HTTP/1.0
  • HTTP/0.9
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Example Configuration

A typical configuration protecting a server serving static content might be as follows:

<Location />
  SetOutputFilter POLICY_TYPE;POLICY_LENGTH;POLICY_KEEPALIVE;POLICY_VARY;POLICY_VALIDATION; \
    POLICY_CONDITIONAL;POLICY_NOCACHE;POLICY_MAXAGE;POLICY_VERSION
  
  # content type must be present and valid, but can be anything
  PolicyType enforce */*
  
  # reject if no explicitly declared content length
  PolicyLength enforce
  
  # covered by the policy length filter
  PolicyKeepalive ignore
  
  # reject if User-Agent appears within Vary headers
  PolicyVary enforce User-Agent
  
  # we want to enforce validation
  PolicyValidation enforce
  
  # non-functional conditional responses should be rejected
  PolicyConditional enforce
  
  # no-cache responses should be rejected
  PolicyNocache enforce
  
  # maxage must be at least a day
  PolicyMaxage enforce 86400
  
  # request version can be anything
  PolicyVersion ignore HTTP/1.1
</Location>

# suppress policy protection for server-status
<Location /server-status>
  PolicyFilter off
</Location>
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PolicyConditional Directive

Description:Enable the conditional request policy.
Syntax:PolicyConditional ignore|log|enforce
Default:ignore
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyConditional is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

When logged or enforced, a response that should have been conditional but wasn't will be rejected.

Example

# non-functional conditional responses should be rejected
PolicyConditional enforce
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PolicyConditionalURL Directive

Description:URL describing the conditional request policy.
Syntax:PolicyConditionalURL url
Default:none
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyConditionalURL is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

Specify the URL of the documentation describing the conditional request policy, to appear within error messages.

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PolicyEnvironment Directive

Description:Override policies based on an environment variable.
Syntax:PolicyEnvironment variable log-value ignore-value
Default:none
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyEnvironment is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

Downgrade policies to logging only or ignored based on the presence of an environment variable. If the given variable is present and equal to the log-value, enforced policies will be logged instead. If the given variable is present and equal to the ignore-value, all policies will be ignored.

Example

# downgrade if POLICY_CONTROL was present
PolicyEnvironment POLICY_CONTROL log ignore
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PolicyFilter Directive

Description:Enable or disable policies for the given URL space.
Syntax:PolicyFilter on|off
Default:on
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyFilter is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

Master switch to enable or disable policies for a given URL space.

Example

# enabled by default
<Location />
  PolicyFilter on
</Location>

# suppress policy protection for server-status
<Location /server-status>
  PolicyFilter off
</Location>
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PolicyKeepalive Directive

Description:Enable the keepalive policy.
Syntax:PolicyKeepalive ignore|log|enforce
Default:ignore
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyKeepalive is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

When logged or enforced, a response that lacks both an explicit Content-Length header and a Transfer-Encoding of chunked will be rejected.

Example

# missing Content-Length or Transfer-Encoding should be rejected
PolicyKeepalive enforce
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PolicyKeepaliveURL Directive

Description:URL describing the keepalive policy.
Syntax:PolicyKeepaliveURL url
Default:none
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyKeepaliveURL is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

Specify the URL of the documentation describing the keepalive policy, to appear within error messages.

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PolicyLength Directive

Description:Enable the content length policy.
Syntax:PolicyLength ignore|log|enforce
Default:ignore
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyLength is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

When logged or enforced, a response that lacks an explicit Content-Length header will be rejected.

Example

# missing Content-Length header should be rejected
PolicyLength enforce
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PolicyLengthURL Directive

Description:URL describing the content length policy.
Syntax:PolicyLengthURL url
Default:none
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyLengthURL is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

Specify the URL of the documentation describing the content length policy, to appear within error messages.

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PolicyMaxage Directive

Description:Enable the caching minimum max-age policy.
Syntax:PolicyMaxage ignore|log|enforce age
Default:ignore
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyMaxage is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

When logged or enforced, a response that lacks an explicit freshness lifetime defined with max-age, s-maxage or an Expires header, or where the explicit freshness lifetime is smaller than the given value, will be rejected.

Example

# reject responses with a freshness lifetime shorter than a day
PolicyMaxage enforce 86400
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PolicyMaxageURL Directive

Description:URL describing the caching minimum freshness lifetime policy.
Syntax:PolicyMaxageURL url
Default:none
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyMaxageURL is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

Specify the URL of the documentation describing the caching minimum freshness lifetime policy, to appear within error messages.

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PolicyNocache Directive

Description:Enable the caching no-cache policy.
Syntax:PolicyNocache ignore|log|enforce
Default:ignore
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyNocache is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

When logged or enforced, a response that defines itself uncacheable using the Cache-Control or Pragma headers will be rejected.

Example

# Cache-Control: no-cache will be rejected
PolicyNocache enforce
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PolicyNocacheURL Directive

Description:URL describing the caching no-cache policy.
Syntax:PolicyNocacheURL url
Default:none
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyNocacheURL is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

Specify the URL of the documentation describing the caching no-cache policy, to appear within error messages.

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PolicyType Directive

Description:Enable the content type policy.
Syntax:PolicyType ignore|log|enforce type [ type [ ... ]]
Default:ignore
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyType is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

When logged or enforced, a response that lacks a Content-Type header, where the Content-Type header is malformed, or where the header does not match the given pattern or patterns will be rejected.

Example

# enforce json or XML
PolicyType enforce application/json text/xml

Example

# malformed content type should be rejected
PolicyType enforce */*
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PolicyTypeURL Directive

Description:URL describing the content type policy.
Syntax:PolicyTypeURL url
Default:none
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyTypeURL is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

Specify the URL of the documentation describing the content type policy, to appear within error messages.

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PolicyValidation Directive

Description:Enable the validation policy.
Syntax:PolicyValidation ignore|log|enforce
Default:ignore
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyValidation is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

When logged or enforced, a response that lacks either a valid ETag header or a Last-Modified header, or where either header is syntactically incorrect, will be rejected.

Example

# no ETag or Last-Modified will be rejected
PolicyValidation enforce
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PolicyValidationURL Directive

Description:URL describing the content type policy.
Syntax:PolicyValidationURL url
Default:none
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyValidationURL is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

Specify the URL of the documentation describing the validation policy, to appear within error messages.

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PolicyVary Directive

Description:Enable the Vary policy.
Syntax:PolicyVary ignore|log|enforce header [ header [ ... ]]
Default:ignore
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyVary is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

When logged or enforced, a response that contains a Vary header which in turn contains one of the headers listed, will be rejected.

Example

# reject reponses with "User-Agent" listed in the Vary header
PolicyVary enforce User-Agent
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PolicyVaryURL Directive

Description:URL describing the content type policy.
Syntax:PolicyVaryURL url
Default:none
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyVaryURL is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

Specify the URL of the documentation describing the vary policy, to appear within error messages.

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PolicyVersion Directive

Description:Enable the version policy.
Syntax:PolicyVersion ignore|log|enforce HTTP/0.9|HTTP/1.0|HTTP/1.1
Default:ignore
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyVersion is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

When logged or enforced, a request with a version lower than specified will be rejected.

Example

# reject requests with an HTTP version older than HTTP/1.1
PolicyVersion enforce HTTP/1.1
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PolicyVersionURL Directive

Description:URL describing the minimum request HTTP version policy.
Syntax:PolicyVersionURL url
Default:none
Context:server config, virtual host, directory
Status:Extension
Module:mod_policy
Compatibility:PolicyVersionURL is only available in Apache 2.5.0 and later.

Specify the URL of the documentation describing the minimum request HTTP version policy, to appear within error messages.

Available Languages:  en 

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