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What is User Session Management?

Implementing proper session management usually increases the strength and security of the session token. And if you have not implemented it, then many vulnerabilities can be introduced with insecure session cookies that attackers can leverage to benefit an authenticated user session.

User Session Management

A session is a collection of intercommunications between a consumer and an application within a given timeframe. For example, when a consumer performs a new standard login, it creates a user session, and the session determines if the consumer is authenticated each time a request is made.

An individual session can contain multiple activities, for example, events, social interactions, page views, and ecommerce transactions—all of which the session stores tentatively while the consumer is logged in.

Generally, if a consumer leaves a website or closes the browser, their session ends. However, to prevent consumers from logging in every time they return, “Remember Me” helps the applications extend sessions by storing session information in a cookie.

Sessions will end when a consumer logs out or when the session lifetime limit is completed. In addition, “Force Logout” can also cause sessions to expire.


Session Lifetime

A unique identifier key is generated after the successful authentication of a consumer for a particular duration only. It is unique to each authenticated consumer and is different even when the same consumer authenticates the next time.

It is used to perform various actions such as retrieve, update, delete, and more on the authenticated consumer's profile.

Remember Me

You might have seen a check box with remember me on it on several websites during login. If you have checked that you can stay logged in to your account even after you have closed the browser, this allows you to stay logged in until the user session expires.

Force Logout

After Password Reset or Password Change, it will expire all active sessions of the respective consumer account except the session in which the Password has been reset/changed.

Why Should We Use It?

Implementing proper session management usually increases the strength and security of the session token. And if you have not implemented it, then many vulnerabilities can be introduced with insecure session cookies that attackers can leverage to benefit an authenticated user session.

why should we use it Attackers can take measures against Brute Force. They can predict and expose session tokens which ultimately can lead to session hijacking, where the malicious consumer can impersonate the victim and complete transactions from their account.

So to avoid such instances, we use session management so we can adequately secure the session, which helps to provide robust protection against session hijacking.

Real-World Session Management Examples

1. E-commerce Platform

On an e-commerce website, session management ensures a seamless shopping experience. When a user logs in, their session starts, storing their cart items, preferences, and payment details. The "Remember Me" feature extends the session beyond browser closures. This way, users can return to complete purchases without re-entering information.

2. Banking Applications

In banking apps, session management is crucial for security and convenience. After a user logs in, the session allows them to view account balances, transfer funds, and pay bills. The session expires after a period of inactivity or when the user logs out. "Force Logout" is used after password changes to invalidate all active sessions except the current one.

3. Social Media Platforms

Session management on social media platforms tracks user interactions. When users log in, their session records posts, likes, and messages. The "Remember Me" option keeps users logged in across devices. Session expiry ensures security, prompting re-authentication after a set time.

Common Session Management Pitfalls

1. Insecure Session Cookies

Failure to set secure and HttpOnly flags on cookies can expose session data to attacks. Without the Secure flag, sensitive data may be sent over unencrypted channels. The HttpOnly flag prevents client-side JavaScript from accessing cookies, mitigating session hijacking risks.

Session cookies should be generated uniquely for each session and expire when inactive. Poorly configured cookies with long expiration times increase the risk of session fixation attacks. They should also be destroyed upon changes in authentication status.

3. Weak Session Token Generation

Session tokens must be random, lengthy, and unique to prevent guessing or brute-force attacks. A common pitfall is using predictable or short tokens, making sessions vulnerable to exploitation. Proper token generation ensures session security.

How to Implement User Session Management

There are various aspects to implementing proper session management. The following are some of the best practices to mitigate potential compromise.

  • Set secure/HttpOnly flags on your cookies.
  • Generate new session cookies.
  • Configure session cookies properly.

Set Secure/HttpOnly Flags on your Cookies

Avoid sending delicate traffic and tokens across an unencrypted channel. This can be enforced by establishing the Secure flag, ensuring that data will only be transported over HTTPS.

The HTTP flag should also be arranged for session cookies, as this will prevent client-side JavaScript from accessing it, resulting in session hijacking.

Generate New Session Cookies

It would be best to always keep in mind that all new session tokens should be generated at every session as soon as a consumer visits the application, verifies the correct credentials, and logs out of their account.

A cookie should expire if the account is inactive for an extended period of time, and you should bind the consumer to re-authenticate. Also, it should apply to changes in state, meaning the cookie should automatically be destroyed when the session transitions from anonymous to authenticated or vice versa.

Configure Session Cookies Properly

Session tokens should be extended, random, and uncommon. These properties can ensure that an attacker cannot guess or brute force the session token's value. Additionally, the termination on persistent cookies should be set for no longer than 30 minutes, limiting the session fixation and hijacking and we can achieve this by modifying the Expire and Max-Age attributes.

If no content is selected for the Expire or Max-Age attributes, the cookie will not persist in the consumer's browser and is expelled while the tab or browser is closed.

It is also recommended that the scope of domains that can access the session cookie is limited and restrictive. This is controlled by the Domain and Path attributes.


In this blog, we have tried to explain user session management in an easy-to-grasp language. Typically managing a session starts when consumers verify their identity using a password or another authentication protocol and what best practices we need to follow to make a secure session. Also, we have gained information on how to mitigate the potential risk of session hijacking.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is session management?

Session management is the process of securely handling user interactions with a web application within a defined timeframe.

2. How do you maintain a user session?

To maintain a user session, the application generates a unique session identifier upon login, stores session data securely, and manages session timeouts and logout functionalities.

3. When should user session change?

User sessions should change when there is a change in authentication status (login/logout) or after a period of user inactivity to enhance security.

4. What are the two types of session?

The two types of sessions are: Client-Side Sessions: Stored on the user's browser, usually as cookies. Server-Side Sessions: Stored on the server, often in databases or server memory.


Keshav Kumar

Written by Keshav Kumar

Technical Support Engineer with over 6+ years of experience in SaaS and PaaS products support, he is helping customers with various integration and implementation-related requirements and queries. A strong believer in the power of positive thinking in the workplace, Keshav enjoys a good Netflix binge but can also be found on long bike rides on hilly country roads.

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