Friday, March 19, 2010

Security Vulnerabilities

I lean on the OWASP list heavily.

The point is that most of the vulnerabilities are pretty clear.
  1. Injection flaws: SQL, OS, and LDAP injection. Pretty clear that building SQL, shell scripts or LDAP queries dynamically is simply wrong. Don't do it. Use SQL Binding, and proper escaping/quoting/filtering.
  2. Cross-site scripting. Again, proper escaping/quoting/filtering is essential.
  3. Authentication and session management. This is generally done well by most frameworks.
  4. Insecure object references. Files, directories, etc. A good framework prevents this by making all URL's into indirect references to underlying objects.
  5. Cross-site request forgeries, like session management, are generally handled by frameworks.
  6. Security misconfiguration. This is where actual skills shown up. This can be hard, and takes work.
  7. URL-level validation. I thought this went without saying: all URL's are available to users even if the link is not on a page anywhere; anyone can bookmark or forge a request. All requests must be validated even if "there's no way the user could see that link and click on it."
  8. Unvalidated redirects and forwards. This strikes me as weird because we use redirects in one (and only one) situation: redirect-after-post. However, if you synthesize a redirect from user input -- without filtering, validating or quoting properly -- you'd be open to problems.
  9. Insecure crypto. Like security misconfiguration, this is very hard work on the part of architects and administrators. Key escrow systems are part of this, as is encrypted database fields and (possibly) encrypted physical storage. Sigh.
  10. Transport layer protection. SSL is part of any security framework.
Some of these are solved by using commonly-available open-source frameworks.

Too many people reject these open-source solutions for dumb or wrong reasons.
One of the biggest mistakes is to say that a framework is "too heavyweight" for a small web application.

The rules are simple: either reinvent the wheel properly, or use an established open-source framework.

Open Source? Yes, one that can be vetted for security vulnerabilities.

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