A webhook in web development is a method of augmenting or altering the behavior of a web page or web application with custom callbacks. These callbacks may be maintained, modified, and managed by third-party users and developers who may not necessarily be affiliated with the originating website or application. The term "webhook" was coined by Jeff Lindsay in 2007 from the computer programming term hook.
Webhooks are "user-defined HTTP callbacks". They are usually triggered by some event, such as pushing code to a repository or a comment being posted to a blog. When that event occurs, the source site makes an HTTP request to the URL configured for the webhook. Users can configure them to cause events on one site to invoke behavior on another.
Common uses are to trigger builds with continuous integration systems or to notify bug tracking systems. Because webhooks use HTTP, they can be integrated into web services without adding new infrastructure.
Authenticating the webhook notification
When the client (the originating website or application) makes a webhook call to the third-party user's server, the incoming POST request should be authenticated to avoid a spoofing attack and its timestamp verified to avoid a replay attack. Different techniques to authenticate the client are used:
- The webhook can include information about what type of event it is, and a shared secret or digital signature to verify the webhook.
- An HMAC signature can be included as a HTTP header. GitHub, Stripe and Facebook use this technique.
- Mutual TLS authentication can be used when the connection is established. The endpoint (the server) can then verify the client's certificate.
The sender may choose to keep a constant list of IP addresses from which requests will be sent. This is not a sufficient security measure on its own, but it is useful for when the receiving endpoint is behind a firewall or NAT.
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- WordPress Webhooks
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- Google Project Hosting - Post-Commit Web Hooks
- What are WebHooks and How Do They Enable a Real-time Web?
- "Why Verify". Svix. Svix Inc. Retrieved September 12, 2021.
Another potential security hole is what's called replay attacks.
- "DocuSign Connect Now Includes Basic Authentication Support". DocuSign. DocuSign, Inc. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
the Connect notification service has been updated to support the Basic Authentication scheme with customers’ Connect servers (listeners).
- "Securing your webhooks". Github. Github, Inc. Retrieved September 12, 2021.
- "Checking Webhook Signatures". Stripe. Stripe, Inc. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
- "Getting Started - Graph API - Documentation - Facebook for Developers". Facebook. Facebook, Inc. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
- "Mutual TLS: Stuff you should know". DocuSign. DocuSign, Inc. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
Mutual TLS plus Client Access Control enables your listener app to ensure that the Connect notification message was sent by DocuSign and that it wasn’t modified en route.