Remove Custom Headers From Your ASP.NET MVC Project

Whenever we start with a new ASP.NET MVC project, the tendency is to use one of the templates offered by Visual Studio. The template goes a long way in getting us started with our project. However one thing that the template does not do is remove the HTTP headers that are related to ASP.NET and MVC. Today we are going to look at those and how and why to remove them.

Custom Headers

We can see the following three headers being included in the response whenever an MVC page is returned from the server:

X-AspNetMvc-Version: 5.2
X-AspNet-Version: 4.0.30319
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET

The exact numbers will vary depending on the version of ASP.NET / MVC being used. For this blog post I am using Visual Studio 2013 Update 5.

These headers can be seen by inspecting the web traffic via a tool such as Fiddler.

Exposing these headers can be an issue from a security standpoint. That is because these headers give away what technology stack was used to create the web application. Knowing this info, malicious users or attackers will be able to exploit vulnerabilities that are specific to the technology stack.

Removing the Custom Headers

Fortunately, these headers can easily be concealed.

To remove the X-AspNetMvc-Version header, clear them from within the Application_Start method in Global.asax.cs:

MvcHandler.DisableMvcResponseHeader = true;

To remove the X-AspNet-Version header, modify the httpRuntime element in web.config to include the enableVersionHeader attribute:

<httpRuntime targetFramework="4.5" enableVersionHeader="false" />

Finally, to remove the X-Powered-By header, clear them from within web.config as well:

<system.webServer>
  <httpProtocol>
    <customHeaders>
      <clear />
    </customHeaders>
  </httpProtocol>
</system.webServer>

Doing these steps will ensure that these custom headers do not get exposed in the returned HTTP responses.

Conclusion

Today we looked at some custom headers that are exposed by default in the ASP.NET MVC project template and how to remove them. Removing these headers will hide the fact that ASP.NET / MVC were the technologies used and will make our applications a little more secure.