Essentials of Web Application Security: what it is, why it matters and how to get started


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Join Cenzic’s Chris Harget for an overview of the essentials of Web Application Security, including the risks, practices and tools that improve security at every stage of the application lifecycle.

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Essentials of Web Application Security: what it is, why it matters and how to get started

  1. 1. 1 Essentials of Web Application Security: What it is, Why it Matters, and How to Get Started Chris Harget - Product Marketing
  2. 2. 2 What Is Web Application Security?
  3. 3. Apps that (mostly) run in Browsers, and let users submit/retrieve information from databases 3
  4. 4. § Quickly installed/updated § Works across operating systems § Limitless reach, affordable 4 These Are Called “Vulnerabilities” But There Are Problem because… § Your Data is accessible from anywhere § To be useful, Web Apps interpret commands § There are hidden ways commands can be used to breach data
  5. 5. 5 Database Application ServerWeb Server Browser
  6. 6. 6 Database Application ServerWeb Server Browser Vulnerability + Hack
  7. 7. § Firewalls § Antivirus § Encryption § Network Vulnerability Scanners 7
  8. 8. § Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) –  Inserts malicious scripts via trusted URL § Broken Session Management –  Lets hackers access applications § Insecure Authentication –  Lets attack exploit authentication mechanism § Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF) –  Forces a user to execute unwanted transactions on a Web App they’re logged into. § Structured Query Language (SQL) Injection –  Malicious inputs (commands) modifies SQL queries to steal or modify data. 8
  9. 9. § Web App Vulnerability Scanners conduct mock “attacks” on an application to catalogue which types of real attacks would succeed. § Results, with recommendations for how to fix, are reported to app owner 9
  10. 10. § Proactively scanning your applications for vulnerabilities and remediating them before the bad guys find them. § Measuring online risk to manage it § Highly automated for fast, comprehensive response and best real-world security. 10
  11. 11. 11 Why Does App Security Matter?
  12. 12. § Today’s Economy is all about Web Apps –  They’re your store, your product, your branding, your infrastructure. –  More apps with more valuable data make them a more attractive target § Types of Data that can be stolen –  Customer Identification –  Access Controls –  Transaction Information –  Core Business Data 12
  13. 13. 13 “69% of 12,000+ IT professionals surveyed believed that in 2013 Application Vulnerabilities are the number one security issue.” -The 2013 (ISC)2 Global Information Security Workforce Study %20Security%20Workforce%20Study%20Feb%202013.pdf
  14. 14. 14 Source:
  15. 15. 15
  16. 16. §  80% have Session Management problems §  61% have Cross Site Scripting issues §  45% have Authentication vulnerabilities 16
  17. 17. § Jan.14, 2013: CISO, Justin Somaini left shortly after a Cross Site Scripting (XSS) attack resulted in an embarrassing surge of Spam from compromised Yahoo Mail accounts. § Outside security experts said Yahoo was slow to fix the vulnerability, which may have led to the CISO’s abrupt departure. – departs-with-more-top-execs-under-ceo-scrutiny/ – – hijack-my-neighbors-e-mail-account/? utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A +arstechnica%2Findex+%28Ars+Technica+-+All+content%29 17
  18. 18. § SQL Injection of Heartland Payment Systems’ Web site In March of 2008 exposed 134 million credit cards. –  The vulnerability had been known for a long time –  Perpetrator was caught and is serving 20 years, but… –  …the damage was already done. § worst-data-security-breaches-of-the-21st-century 18
  19. 19. 19 Getting Started
  20. 20. § How many Web applications do you have? § Which apps have mission-critical data behind them? § Who Develops/updates them? § Do you want to build out a security analyst group or retain outside experts? § Do you have mobile apps you want to assess? 20
  21. 21. § Security Analysts: Scan, Analyze, Coordinate § App Developers: Incorporate findings, fix code § QA: Re-run scans to ensure fixes worked § Governance/Risk/Compliance: Consume reports § Production Team: Re-run scans regularly to find new issues § CIO/CISO: View Dashboard to see trends 21
  22. 22. § Many vulnerabilities are relatively easy to detect, block and fix. § Common tools for managing vulnerabilities: –  Secure coding standards –  Web security scanning –  Intrusion/penetration testing –  Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) § Security is a continuous effort –  New developers, software and hardware are employed –  Old vulnerabilities never go away –  Hackers continue to generate new attacks 22
  23. 23. 1.  Employ coding best practices during development. 2.  Scan and remediate in pre-production test environment (run-time is most accurate) 3.  Monitor production apps, and patch accordingly –  Web Application Firewalls, working with vulnerability scanner, can use policy to “virtually patch” some vulnerabilities 23
  24. 24. § Pre-Production –  Pros: Fixing earlier may be more efficient, more aggressive testing may be used safely –  Cons: Test environment may not mirror production environment. § Production –  Pros: Most accurate (real environment), Detects newly discovered vulnerabilities, Web App Firewall virtual patch may minimize repair time –  Cons: Production team must buy in, care must be taken to use only safe attacks. § Answer? Yes. Both. All of the above. 24
  25. 25. § Managed Service –  Pro: Expert, Fast, Easy, can cover Mobile apps too –  Con: $$, Only as good as their tools § Cloud-based SaaS –  Pro: Quick Setup, Simple, Affordable –  Con: Shallower scan misses some vulnerability types § Software (desktop or Enterprise) –  Pro: Powerful, best value for large # of apps –  Con: More to learn, costly for small # of apps § Hybrid (Managed Service + Enterprise Software) –  Pro: Most secure, augments your team, flexible –  Con: Mostly for enterprises 25
  26. 26. 26 Managed Service Cloud Hybrid Service + Software Enterprise Software Skill Required Depth of Scan
  27. 27. § Mix and Match –  Managed Service for Compliance/Mission Critical apps –  Software or Cloud for the rest § Plan to Evolve –  Managed Service to start, migrate to Hyrid or Enterprise Software (your data can be preserved) § Phase I, Phase II –  Cover most important apps first –  Expand to the rest when feasible 27
  28. 28. § Who? –  Global NGO with thousands of web sites § Need? –  Methodology Assessment of their security posture, and real-world training of their Developers § Solution? –  Cenzic PS did a 3-day engagement with their App Developers. –  Reviewed 10 most common vulnerabilities, found examples in their production apps. –  Cenzic PS demonstrated on a Live Demo site how a hacker could exploit those specific types of vulnerabilities –  Reviewed coding best practices to completely eliminate said vulnerabilities. 28
  29. 29. § Who? –  High technology company with a mobile application that accessed sensitive customer data § Need? –  Vulnerability Scan a mobile app that can not be traditionally traversed with a spider. § Solution? –  Cenzic Mobile Scan service performed a dynamic analysis by placing a proxy in line to the mobile app, which allowed technicians to replay various attacks and coupled it with a thorough forensic analysis of the application on the device to identify vulnerabilities that exposed customer data. 29
  30. 30. § Who? –  A Health Maintenance Organization § Need? –  Deep scan of a new application on a tight development schedule to ensure compliance. § Solution? –  Cenzic PS performed Manual Penetration testing along with the comprehensive vulnerability scanning to provide a very thorough scan which could suffice for any compliance or audit need. 30
  31. 31. 31 Bronze   Silver   Gold   Pla0num    Industry  Best-­‐ Prac0ces  for   Brochureware   sites   Industry  Best-­‐ Prac0ces  for  forms   and  login  protected   sites   Compliance  for   sites  with  user   data    Comprehensive   scans  for  Mission   cri0cal   applica0ons   Phishing   X    X   X    x   Light  input   valida0on   X   X   X    x   Data  Security   X   X   X   x     Session   management   X   X   x     OWASP   compliance   X   x     PCI  compliance   X   x     Business  logic   tes0ng   x   Applica0on  logic   tes0ng   x   Manual   penetra0on   tes0ng   x  
  32. 32. 32 Of All Attacks on Information Security Are Directed to the Web Application Layer Of All Web Applications Are Vulnerable Network Server Web Application % of Amount Security Budget 10% 90% % of Attacks Risk 75% Web Layer 25%
  33. 33. 33 § Justify more IT spend § Reallocate existing IT spend § Stretch existing App Sec spend Tip: For more ideas watch “Top 10 Ways to Win Budget For App Security”
  34. 34. § Web App Security Trends Report 2013 – Report.html § Web Security: Are You Part Of The Problem? – security-primer-are-you-part-of-the-problem/ § Open Web Application Security Project –  ( is a broad-based organization seeking to make software security visible for better decision making 34
  35. 35. We offer: § Industry-leading, patented scanning technology § The broadest range of managed service, cloud, enterprise software and hybrid service solutions to best meet your evolving needs § Training, consulting, and mobile app assessment 35
  36. 36. §  Audit your environment –  How many apps do you have? –  Are you subject to regulatory compliance? –  Which app is most crucial to your organization? §  Identify team members who need to get educated §  Try Cenzic for Free – §  Let us know how we can help you succeed! –  Consulting, Managed Services, and Training always help 36
  37. 37. | 1-866-4-CENZIC (1-866-423-6942) Questions? or 1.866-4-Cenzic Blog: