Internet Explorer ignoring cookies…why?

Published August 26th, 2016

Wow, five years since my last post? Anyway…

A short post, although it took me a couple of hours to solve this one…

While working on a local development version of a web site project, I found that for some reason I was unable to log in to my CMS when testing with Internet Explorer. For the life of me I couldn’t work out what was going on — everything seemed to be working as it should, except that for some reason IE was regenerating its session cookie on every page load.

I tried everything I could think of, to no avail, until I stumbled this obscure response on StackOverflow. The reason in the end was very simple: IE doesn’t like underscore characters in domain names (although the answer incorrectly suggests that hyphens are problematic, too).

Fair enough, IE is adhering to the relevant RFC standard but to do so by silently ignoring cookies is just absurd. If it doesn’t support domain names with this character, surely it should just reject the whole site and give an error (e.g. “domain name contains illegal characters”)?

Sigh.

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