Archive for May, 2010

We’re Doing It Wrong

Posted in Application Security, Events, Security Awareness on May 12, 2010 by Matthew Flick

As an industry, we have failed. Miserably. Web application security professionals–yes, including myself–have implemented a broken methodology and graduated from failing to properly identify the problem to failing to present an effective solution. The net sec methodology of: 1. Scan for Vulnerabilities, and then 2. Apply Security Patch, simply does not work for the custom web application environment. This statement may seem obvious, but it’s exactly what the industry has tried to do.

Our first failure was in identifying the problem. Early warning professionals considered web application vulnerabilities similar to those of other applications, and that they could be identified with vulnerability scanning tools and then remediated with a patch (albeit a custom patch). They were at least partially correct in theory; the problem was in the practice. This failure led to the development of web application vulnerability scanning products as the basis of the web application security industry.

We finally realized that the root cause of the problem was related to application development. More specifically, the security of an application is in the hands of its developers. And what was our solution to this problem? Inject security people into the development process. We trained developers how to break their applications. We tested pre-alpha code that will be significantly changed another dozen times. And some people did threat modeling, which I still have not found to produce useful results.

Security comes down to control. For application security, this means who is in control of the functionality and data available within the application. This is why it is necessary that current and future application developers and computer security professionals learn the foundation of how to build secure applications from the start. To promote this effort, we are offering a discounted AppTrust Developer Training course at Virginia Tech this summer to ensure that the next generation doesn’t fall into the trap of doing it wrong and starts off doing it right.

To learn more visit the event site.