Security considerations in gRPC for ASP.NET Core

By James Newton-King

This article provides information on securing gRPC with .NET Core.

Transport security

gRPC messages are sent and received using HTTP/2. We recommend:

TLS is configured in Kestrel. For more information on configuring Kestrel endpoints, see Kestrel endpoint configuration.

Exceptions

Exception messages are generally considered sensitive data that shouldn't be revealed to a client. By default, gRPC doesn't send the details of an exception thrown by a gRPC service to the client. Instead, the client receives a generic message indicating an error occurred. Exception message delivery to the client can be overridden (for example, in development or test) with EnableDetailedErrors. Exception messages shouldn't be exposed to the client in production apps.

Message size limits

Incoming messages to gRPC clients and services are loaded into memory. Message size limits are a mechanism to help prevent gRPC from consuming excessive resources.

gRPC uses per-message size limits to manage incoming and outgoing messages. By default, gRPC limits incoming messages to 4 MB. There is no limit on outgoing messages.

On the server, gRPC message limits can be configured for all services in an app with AddGrpc:

public void ConfigureServices(IServiceCollection services)
{
    services.AddGrpc(options =>
    {
        options.MaxReceiveMessageSize = 1 * 1024 * 1024; // 1 MB
        options.MaxSendMessageSize = 1 * 1024 * 1024; // 1 MB
    });
}

Limits can also be configured for an individual service using AddServiceOptions<TService>. For more information on configuring message size limits, see gRPC configuration.

Client certificate validation

Client certificates are initially validated when the connection is established. By default, Kestrel doesn't perform additional validation of a connection's client certificate.

We recommend that gRPC services secured by client certificates use the Microsoft.AspNetCore.Authentication.Certificate package. ASP.NET Core certification authentication will perform additional validation on a client certificate, including:

  • Certificate has a valid extended key use (EKU)
  • Is within its validity period
  • Check certificate revocation