31 July 2015

OWASP Automated Threat Handbook v1.00

I have been working on a new OWASP incubator project since February this year — the Automated Threats to Web Applications Project.

One of the threat events descriptions from the 'OWASP Automated Threat Handbook v1.00'

There are many aspects of automation that can contribute to application security, but there are also automated threats that disrupt operations. There is a significant body of knowledge about application vulnerability types, and some general consensus about identification and naming. But I believe issues relating to the misuse of valid functionality (which may be caused by design flaws rather than implementation bugs) are less well defined. Yet these problems are seen day-in, day-out by web application owners.

Excessive abuse of functionality is commonly misreported as application denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, such as HTTP flooding or application resource exhaustion, when in fact the DoS is a side-effect. Most of these problems seen regularly by web application owners are not listed in any OWASP Top Ten or in any other top issue list or dictionary.

This has contributed to inadequate visibility, and an inconsistency in naming such threats, with a consequent lack of clarity in attempts to address the issues. I wrote some use case scenarios for having defined names and properties of the threat events:

  • Defining application development security requirements
  • Sharing intelligence within a sector
  • Exchanging threat data between CERTs
  • Enhancing application penetration test findings
  • Specifying service acquisition needs
  • Characterising vendor services.

Following a number of months of research and some peer review, I am pleased to publish the first main output of this - the OWASP Automated Threat Handbook for Web Applications. Initially this is primarily the ontology of automated threats, but the aim is to now develop additional guidance on:

  • Mitigations
  • Guidance for builders
  • Guidance for defenders
  • Effectiveness of alternative controls
  • Threat identification metrics.

I am grateful to those people who have already provided input, discussed the classifications, and suggested improvements.

All outputs are free and open source. There is a two-page project summary The 68-page v1.00 handbook can be downloaded as a PDF or obtained as a print on demand book.

To join the discussion, or to contribute knowledge, or to keep up with the latest news, please join the project's mailing list.

Also, please come along to my talk about the project at AppSec USA 2015 in San Francisco.

Posted on: 31 July 2015 at 09:53 hrs

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28 July 2015

AppSensor Guide v2.0.2

I have published an updated version of the OWASP AppSensor Guide, the guide to application-specific real time attack detection and response.

Cover from the OWASP AppSensor Guide v2.0.2 published on 27th July 2015

The v2.0.2 AppSensor Guide is available free of charge digitally in DOC and PDF formats, and in print at cost from Lulu.

This is a minor update that includes:

  • Reference the extensive work on the reference code implementation undertaken since the v2.0.1 guide was published in May 2014
  • Changes due to further peer review
  • Alterations based on feedback while writing the CISO Briefing
  • Fix spelling and grammatical errors
  • Added missed and new additional contributors' names
  • Added information on more recent presentations that mention AppSensor
  • Comments added about the related product category Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP)
  • Checked and updated reference source hyperlinks
  • Removal of commercial implementation references
  • Cover design modified slightly for consistency with the CISO Briefing.

All the edits are shown with track changes on, in another word processing document.

The AppSensor Guide complements information on the AppSensor microsite, the Introduction for Developers flyer and the CISO Briefing. Copies will be available at AppSec USA in September.

Posted on: 28 July 2015 at 13:00 hrs

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21 July 2015

Web Application Firewall Magic Quadrant 2015

Gartner has published an updated "magic quadrant" report about Web Application Firewall (WAF) vendors.

Partial screen capture of the magic quadrant diagram from Gartner's 'Magic Quadrant for Web Application Firewalls' for 2015

Sixteen vendor offerings are assessed. To be included, the product has to be actively marketed, use techniques designed for web security, and not just use attack signature-based approach found in other devices such as next-generation firewalls and intrusion protection systems (IPSs).

The Gartner category excludes WAFs that are directly integrated with either the web server or the web application. It is limited thus to devices "in front of" web applications, but includes purpose-built physical, virtual or software appliances, WAF modules embedded in application delivery controllers (ADCs) and cloud services or virtual appliances available on infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platforms.

The analysis also excludes comparison of free open source products such as ModSecurity and IronBee.

The report is available after registration from here, and here for Gartner subscribers.

WAFs should not of course be the only security control in your arsenal, but they play an important role for some types of threat. Do not underestimate the amount of resource required for their deployment and operation. See also the links from my post last year.

Posted on: 21 July 2015 at 08:42 hrs

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17 July 2015

AngularJS Security

Security was given a high profile on the agenda of this year's Norwegian Developers Conference (NDC).

Partial screen capture from the AngularJS web site showing the FAQ regarding security

One talk which caught my eye was Kevin Hakanson's presentation about developing securely on AngularJS.

He explained his knowledge and guidance for AngularJS based around the OWASP Top 10 risks, and his presentation is now available online. The slides contain many useful code samples and demos.

A couple of other AngularJS security resources I would recommend are:

Posted on: 17 July 2015 at 08:30 hrs

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14 July 2015

E-Banking Transaction Authorisation

I listened to Wojciech Dworakowski speak at AppSec EU 2015 about e-banking transaction authorisation.

Partial screen capture showing the contents list from the OWASP Transaction Authorization Cheat Sheet

His presentation is available to watch, but he mentioned that he was working on a new document for the OWASP cheat sheet series.

The Transaction Authorization Cheat Sheet has been published. It describes necessary functional and non-functional requirements to implement transaction authorisation properly.

Whilst such checks are common in financial applications to confirm with the intended user that an electronic fund transfer is valid, transaction authorisation also occurs in other applications such as for account validation.

Posted on: 14 July 2015 at 08:41 hrs

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07 July 2015

Hosted Payment Pages, the Payment Services Directive and PCI DSS Validation & Reporting

Following the release of PCI DSS v3.0 in November 2013, both the PCI SSC and Visa Europe sought to clarify the validation and reporting requirements for the e-commerce payment channel.

From the ECB's 'Guidelines on Internet Payments Security' on strong customer authentication in clause 7.5: 'PSPs offering acquiring services should require their e-merchant to support solutions allowing the issuer to perform strong authentication of the cardholder for card transactions via the internet. The use of alternative authentication measures could be considered for pre-identified categories of low-risk transactions, e.g. based on a transaction risk analysis, or involving low-value payments, as referred to in the PSD.'

The guidance from the PCI SSC (May 2014) and guidance from Visa Europe (July 2014) made it clear that either a full redirect or iframe method containing a hosted payment page (HPP) would currently be acceptable for validation and reporting to SAQ A (or using those parts in a full report on compliance, depending upon transaction volumes or as required by a card scheme or acquirer).

But move on a year. The payment service provider (PSP) sector is coming under increasing regulation. PSPs are subject to the Payment Services Directive (PSD) which was implemented in the UK through the Payment Services Regulations 2009 (PSRs), which came into effect on 1st November 2009.

The PSRs affects firms providing payment services and their customers including banks, building societies, e-money issuers, money remitters, non-bank credit card issuers, and non-bank merchant acquirers. Thus whilst it is not directly applicable to e-commerce merchants (or emerchants as the PSD refers to them), the PSPs that provide e-commerce merchants with payment systems are affected.

Following an extensive consultation process, and a draft published in October last year, the European Banking Authority (EBA) published its final guidance in December 2014. This guidance is known as the Final Guidelines on the Security of Internet Payments and comes into effect next month on 1st August 2015.

This places obligations on PSPs to impose certain security requirements on e-commerce merchants. For example PSPs must require their ecommerce merchants to support solutions allowing the issuer to perform strong authentication of the cardholder for card transactions via the internet.

Furthermore the guidance requires PSPs to encourage merchants never to store "sensitive payment data", and places an obligation on PSPs to include requirements in their contracts and to carry out regular checks" of its ecommerce merchants:

From the ECB's 'Guidelines on Internet Payments Security' on protection of sensitive payment data in clauses 11.2 and 11.3: 'PSPs should ensure that when exchanging sensitive payment data via the internet, secure end-to-end encryption 20 is applied between the communicating parties throughout the respective communication session, in order to safeguard the confidentiality and integrity of the data, using strong and widely recognised encryption techniques.' and 'PSPs offering acquiring services should encourage their e-merchants not to store any sensitive payment data. In the event e-merchants handle, i.e. store, process or transmit sensitive payment data, such PSPs should contractually require the emerchants to have the necessary measures in place to protect these data. PSPs should carry out regular checks and if a PSP becomes aware that an e-merchant handling sensitive payment data does not have the required security measures in place, it should take steps to enforce this contractual obligation, or terminate the contract'

Perhaps of most note is the guidance that states PSPs should require e-commerce merchants to use a full redirect rather than any other type of architecture, and that this excludes any framed hosted payment page:

From the ECB's 'Guidelines on Internet Payments Security' on customer education and communication in clause 12.5: 'Acquiring PSPs should require e-merchants to clearly separate payment-related processes from the online shop in order to make it easier for customers to identify when they are communicating with the PSP and not the payee (e.g. by re-directing the customer and opening a separate window so that the payment process is not shown within a frame of the e-merchant)'

Whether this will actually filter through from PSPs to their e-commerce customers, or from the acquiring banks to their merchants is yet to be seen. The UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has stated it will not be able to comply with the guidance. Regardless of this, leading merchants that do not already use a full redirect are investigating what changes might be necessary to achieve this and the level of user experience possible. The reasons to move to a full redirect are to reduce the risk to cardholder data, to lower the risk of a cardholder data incident, and to change at a time of their choosing before it is imposed through a contractual obligation.

For some merchants this may entail moving to a different PSP that is able to offer suitable PSP-hosted templates and configuration to provide a suitable user interface (UI) for web desktop and mobile users that supports all the options the merchant requires, such as internationalisation.

Some nations, PSPs and acquiring banks may also be waiting for the implementation of the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2), possibly in 2017. The intention of PSD2 is to harmonise the approaches across member nation states, and also to reduce the inappropriate use of exemptions.

Posted on: 07 July 2015 at 10:00 hrs

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02 July 2015

HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) Preload Lists

There is a growing wave of websites and other web applications that are now moving to be TSL-only (transport layer security only, aka SSL-only).

Partial screen capture of Chrome's preload list with the entry for clerkendweller.uk highlighted

Apart from the web site being browsed using "https", the server can also send a policy instruction in the form of a HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) header. There are of course considerations for HSTS deployment, not least the effect on other sub-domains.

Since the browser needs to make at least one request before it can read this HSTS policy, the user is still vulnerable to the use of a first non-TLS connection.

However, if a web site is TLS-only and has the HSTS header, with an expiry of at least eighteen weeks (10886400 seconds), has the "includeSubdomains" and "preload" attributes set, then the information can be hard coded into certain web browsers such that they will never request the site without using TLS, regardless of what a user types in or clicks on.

The machine readable HSTS preload lists are:

The entry for clerkendweller.uk in Chrome's list is illustrated above.

Once you have configured your website, use this form from Google to submit your information. The data is included with the preload lists for Safari and Firefox. Note the inclusion in the preload list is irreversible.

Posted on: 02 July 2015 at 07:49 hrs

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26 June 2015

Game Fame

I have been catching up on a backlog of information security related podcasts, and one episode of the Security Influencers Channel from January mentions my application security games.

Adam Shostack, who developed the Elevation of Privilege Threat Modelling Card Game and is responsible for Microsoft's software threat modeling process, maintains a page on security games and said about my OWASP Cornucopia card game:

Let me actually plug an awesome OWASP project that hasn't got enough attention, and that's the Cornucopia game... which are designed to help people with web security... so folks should go check that out

Interviewer Jeff Williams also mentioned my OWASP Snakes and Ladders board game:

There's actually another game out of OWASP that you may have seen called Snakes and Ladders... it's very cool... it's a take off on Chutes and Ladders game... but it's all security stuff... it's actually really fun

Thank you for the mentions. Check out episode 26 of the podcast. The games are free to use and can be downloaded from the OWASP website.

And, if you are attending AppSec USA 2015 in San Francisco, I heard yesterday that my submission to deliver Cornucopia card game lightning training has been accepted and runs from 2-3pm on Thursday 24th September. All the one-hour duration lightning training sessions are free to all conference attendees and run alongside the conference talks on Thursday 24th and Friday 25th September. Now just three months away.

Posted on: 26 June 2015 at 07:43 hrs

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23 June 2015

Docker Security Resources

Two recent publications provide security advice for Docker users.

Partial view of content from the CIS Benchmark for Docker Engine 1.6The Center for Internet Security (CIS) has published a Benchmark for Docker Engine 1.6. A related tool Docker Bench is a script that checks for all the automatable tests included in the CIS Docker 1.6 Benchmark.

In March, a white paper Introduction to Container Security was also published.

See also the Docker Security page.

Posted on: 23 June 2015 at 16:05 hrs

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19 June 2015

Ecommerce and Financial Web Application Vulnerabilities

NCC Group has published some guidance for finance/e-commerce application penetration testers.

Partial view of a table from 'Common Security Issues in Financially-Oriented Web Applications'

Common Security Issues in Financially-Oriented Web Applications is arranged in the following sections:

  • Time-of-Check-Time-of-Use (TOCTOU) and race condition issues
  • Parameter manipulation
  • Replay attacks (capture-replay)
  • Rounding issues
  • Numerical processing
  • Card number-related issues
  • Dynamic prices, prices with tolerance, or referral schemes
  • Discount codes, vouchers, offers, reward points, and gift cards
  • Cryptography
  • Downloadables and virtual goods
  • Hidden and insecure backend APIs
  • Using test data in production environment
  • Currency arbitrage in deposit/buy and withdrawal/refund.

Soroush Dalili has provided a very useful extensive guide here, which should be used by developers as well as testers.

On this topic, I would also recommend watching the presentation by Wojtek Dworakowski at AppSec EU 2015 in May about E-Banking Transaction Authorization - Common Vulnerabilities, Security Verification And Best Practices For Implementation ( or download.

All the other presentation recordings from AppSec EU 2015 can be found on YouTube and to download.

Posted on: 19 June 2015 at 08:30 hrs

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