17 September 2010

OWASP AppSec Ireland 2010 - Part 2

After arriving in Dublin last night, I walked to Trinity College this morning and had a little time for a coffee and to greet people I knew before we moved into the lecture theatre.

Photograph from the presentation at AppSec Ireland 2010

Following the welcome to OWASP Ireland 2010 by Eoin Keary, Fabio Cerullo & Rahim Jina of the OWASP Ireland Board, John Viega delivered a thought-provoking keynote speech on "Application Security in the Real World". John described real-world problems and approaches to application security need to prove their value. He described seven practices: awareness & training, assessments & audits, development & Q&A, vulnerability response, operational security, compliance and security metrics which, when applied appropriately can demonstrate a return on investment.

Photograph from the presentation at AppSec Ireland 2010

OWASP Board members Eoin Keary & Dinis Cruz provided an overview of OWASP's current status, its activities including many of its projects and of the global committees. They described how OWASP's mission "is to make application security VISIBLE for buyers and INVISIBLE for developers". Samy Kamkar was given a brief slot to describe how cross site scripting (XSS) can be used against user's routers to eventually gain the MAC address and ultimately a user's geolocation using Google data.

Photograph from the presentation at AppSec Ireland 2010

After a short break and opportunity to look at the sponsor booths, the conference split into two streams for the rest of the morning. Fred Donovan spoke on the topic of "Counter Intelligence as a Defense", describing how gathering information and taking approved action can help identify, assess and potentially neutralise threats to an organisation's ability to conduct business, and to enhance the protection of corporate assets and customer data. He also described sources of information including web application firewalls (WAFs), server logs, application logs, the media, list servers, MITRE, honeypots and from the source of the threat itself. some of the impediments and do's and dont's in this pro-active approach.

Photograph from the presentation at AppSec Ireland 2010

Ryan Berg gave a lively and fast-paced description on the "Path to a Secure Application". He described what isn't working, and the need to mitigate the damage that attackers can do, rather than assuming you can keep them outside your network, He provided numerous examples of how security can be built into to all stages of the software development process, but made the point that organisations should make efforts to improve their existing application development processes, rather than creating new ones.

Photograph from the presentation at AppSec Ireland 2010

Dan Cornell described how Android and iPhone smartphone applications are coded, deployed and, how and when the source code can be reverse engineered. He presented an example Android application and some tools to demonstrate how embedded URLs, file paths and host names can be extracted to help determine its workings. He recommended that, like other applications, smartphone applications should undergo threat modelling, care should be taken on what information is stored and where, and to be careful when consuming any third-party services, and ensure that enterprise web services are approved and deployed securely.

Photograph from the presentation at AppSec Ireland 2010

After lunch which was held in the beautiful Dining Hall of Trinity College Dublin, Professor Fred Piper (Royal Holloway College) presented the second keynote on "The changing face of cryptography". Prof Piper described that people do not need to attack algorithms when they can attack the implementation or cryptographic system instead. He provided an engaging and personable talk about algorithms, implementation weaknesses, real-life cryptography and the related political and social issues, clearly demonstrating his wide and deep knowledge.

Tyler Shields' presentation "Application Security Scoreboard in the Sky" described the results from Veracode's State of Software Security, which I have discussed before but is worth remembering as a good source of information when building business cases for secure development processes. The first volume had examined the differences between open source, commercial and out-sourced software. The second volume is due to be released in the next fortnight.

Photograph from the presentation at AppSec Ireland 2010

Rory Alsop & Rory McCune (co-chairs of OWASP Scotland) "The 'Real' Application Security Pentest." described why penetration test companies and purchasers of their services need to understand the requirements clearly and to make best use of the budget. They described that penetration testing is increasingly being used but there are inconsistencies in how it is undertaken and customers don't always receive what they want. The speakers described common myths and what buyers should do.

Photograph from the presentation at AppSec Ireland 2010

Vinay Bansal and Martin Nystrom jointly presented Cisco's experiences of "How to Defend Fragile Web Applications". Cisco know they are constant attack on their perimeter, but they have to concentrate their resources on defending DMZ & internal systems and minimising the damage from compromises. Cisco use architectural assessments, developer training, secure coding techniques, verification practices and more recently using web application firewalls (WAFs) in a reverse proxy mode using Apache httpd, ModSecurity and ModProxy. They described the problems and benefits of using WAFs in front of Cisco's tens of thousands of applications, and how they are trialling using the WAFs for virtual patching, where the applications cannot be modified.

Photograph from the presentation at AppSec Ireland 2010

The final keynote "Hackers and Hollywood: The Implications of the Popular Media Representation of Computer Hacking" was presented by Damian Gordon (School of Computing, Dublin Institute of Technology). Damian gave a light-hearted look at "Hackers and Hollywood: The Implications of the Popular Media Representation of Computer Hacking". He has researched whether or not movies accurately portray hackers and the implications of that portrayal, based on filtering 200 potential movies down to 50 clearly relating to computer hackers and not just cyberpunk, sci-fi or where hacking is only a peripheral activity. The conclusion? Movies are doing quite well but are missing out on some hacking features such as denial of service, phishing, organisation identuty theft and e-harassment of employees. Maybe next year?

Congratulations for a very successful and informative day to all the organisers, helpers and speakers. A little late, but off to the social event...

Posted on: 17 September 2010 at 19:26 hrs

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