WebClient, Fiddler and SSL

I am developing a credit card authorization library which uses the WebClient class. In addition, I am using the excellent Fiddler to watch the requests and responses.

As you might expect, the credit card web service is HTTPS. Fiddler is acting as a proxy server on my dev machine.

Not surprisingly, WebClient throws an exception: “The underlying connection was closed: Could not establish secure channel for SSL/TLS”. As well it should — the SSL certificate in this case is not the one supplied by credit card authorizer. Fiddler is intercepting the request and issuing its own dummy certificate, as it must.

So we’ve got a man-in-the-middle, and WebClient doesn’t like it. What to do?

Turns out there is a way of telling System.Net to allow invalid certificates to pass. Here’s the code.

using System.Net;
using System.Net.Security;
using System.Security.Cryptography.X509Certificates;
using System.Web;

public static class Network
  public static void AllowInvalidCertificate()
    if (HttpContext.Current.Request.Url.Host == “localhost”)
       ServicePointManager.ServerCertificateValidationCallback += new RemoteCertificateValidationCallback(allowCert);

  private static bool allowCert(object sender, X509Certificate cert, X509Chain chain, SslPolicyErrors error)
     return true;

I implemented it as a static class so when I need it in my code I just call Network.AllowInvalidCertificate(). Now my WebClient requests work without throwing an Exception, and Fiddler is able to show me those requests so I can debug.

Do I need to tell you that this is a security risk, so be careful? We’re disabling one of the fundamental purposes of SSL.

In my case, you’ll notice I check for localhost first, to reduce the risk that this gets called on a production site. You’ll want to put your own precautions in there as well.



3 thoughts on “WebClient, Fiddler and SSL

  1. Hi Marcel, WebClient and HttpContext.Current.Request are very different things. WebClient is for situations where you want the server to go out and get data from another web site. HttpContext.Current.Request describes the user hitting your site right now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s