Unit Testing Security Example

code, tdd comments edit

This is a simple little demonstration of how to write unit tests to test out a specific role based permission issue using NUnit/MbUnit and Rhino Mocks.

In Subtext, we have a class named FileBrowserConnector that really should only ever be constructed by a member of the Admins role. Because this class can write to the file system, we want to take extra precautions other than simply restricting access to the URL in which this object is created.

Here are two tests I wrote to begin with.

public void NonAdminCannotCreateFileConnector()
  new FileBrowserConnector();

public void AdminCanCreateFileConnector()
  MockRepository mocks = new MockRepository();

  IPrincipal principal;
  using (mocks.Record())
    IIdentity identity = mocks.CreateMock<IIdentity>();
    principal = mocks.CreateMock<IPrincipal>();

  using (mocks.Playback())
    IPrincipal oldPrincipal = Thread.CurrentPrincipal;
      Thread.CurrentPrincipal = principal;
      FileBrowserConnector connector = new FileBrowserConnector();
      Assert.IsNotNull(connector, "Could not create the connector.");
      Thread.CurrentPrincipal = oldPrincipal;

The first test is really straightforward. It simply tries to instantiate the FileBrowserConnector class.

The second test is a bit more involved, but the concept is simple. I’m using the Rhino Mocks mocking framework to dynamically construct instance that implement the IIdentity and IPrincipal interfaces.

The following line...


Tells the dynamic principal mock to return true when the IsInRole method is called with the parameter "Admins". We then set the Thread.CurrentPrincipal to this constructed principal and try and create the instance of FileBrowserConnector.

Here’s the results of my first test run, trimmed down a bit.

Found 2 tests
[failure] FileBrowserConnectorTests.NonAdminCannotCreateFileConnector
Exception of type 'MbUnit.Core.Exceptions.ExceptionNotThrownException' 
was thrown. 

[success] FileBrowserConnectorTests.AdminCanCreateFileConnector
[reports] generating HTML report
TestResults: file:///D:/AppData/MbUnit/Reports/UnitTests.Subtext.Tests.html

1 passed, 1 failed, 0 skipped, took 4.37 seconds.

As expected, one test passed and one failed. Now I can go ahead and enforce security on the FileBrowserConnector class.

[PrincipalPermission(SecurityAction.Demand, Role = "Admins")]
public class FileBrowserConnector: Page
  //... implementation ...

That’s all there is to it. You might be wondering if this test is even needed because all I’m really testing is that the PrincipalPermission attribute does indeed work.

This test is still important to prevent regressions. You don’t want someone coming along and removing that attribute by accident or out of ignorance and you don’t notice it.

In codebases that I’ve worked with, I’ve seen a tendency to ignore or forget to write test cases for security requirements. This demo hopefully provides a starting point for myself and others to making sure that security requirements get good test coverage.

I should probably write yet another test to make sure a principal in a different role cannot create an instance of this class.