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Education Track: Web Application Security Primer

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Track Overview

Application security is an essential component of any successful project; this includes web applications, open source PHP applications, web services and proprietary business web sites.

Web application security education and awareness is needed throughout the entire development and deployment organization. Each area and level of development or deployment organizations have specific needs and requirements regarding web application security education. A manager needs other information than a security professional or developer. Novices to the profession require other training than people with several years of experience.

The OWASP Education project aims to provide in building blocks of web application security information. These modules can be combined together in education tracks targeting different audiences.

This Education Track provides in a 4 hour session covering what every actor involved in developing or deploying a web application should know on web application security. It starts with an explanation of web application security and why it is important. Then the OWASP Top 10 is used to explain the nastiest vulnerabilities and how these can be prevented or re-mediated. A secure coding initiative must deal with all stages of a program’s life cycle. Secure web applications are only possible when a secure SDLC is used. The SDLC is explained from the standpoint of people, processes and tools. Several web application security controls are explained that should be part of the SDLC. Finally the track finishes with an exhaustive list of web application security resources for web application developers.

Track Audience

The track audience is are all people that become involved in developing or administering a web application and who are new to web application security. No prior knowledge of web application security is assumed nor necessary. This track is independent of the coding language or web frameworks used; like PHP, JSF, Java EE or .NET.

We must realize that people are the most important factor when web applications are secured. It is not enough to have good tools to secure web applications and to have excellent secure development and administration processes. People are often the weakest link within web application security. This track aims to make that link as secure as possible, given the constraint of 4 hours.

Another important aspect is that web application security should be tailored to the risk profile of an organization.

Table of Contents

The challenge is to cover web application security in 4 hours to people who are new to the subject. The track is presented in such a way that people who are involved in developing or deploying a web application will know what their responsibilities are how to manage web application security controls within their area of influence.

This part is the introduction of the track. It identifies the current security problems with web applications. During the introduction a definition of web application security is given. Trends that are influencing the current state of web application insecurity are also explained.
  • What goes wrong
  • WebAppSec Defined
  • Current trends
The primary aim of the OWASP Top 10 is to educate developers, designers, architects and organizations about the consequences of the most common web application security vulnerabilities. The Top 10 provides basic methods to protect against these vulnerabilities.
  • Cross Site Scripting (XSS)
  • Injection Flaws
  • Malicious File Execution
  • Insecure Direct Object Reference
  • Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF)
  • Information Leakage and Improper Error Handling
  • Broken Authentication and Session Management
  • Insecure Cryptographic Storage
  • Insecure Communications
  • Failure to Restrict URL Access
There is no silver bullet when it comes to securing web applications. This problem has to be addressed from different angles, covering the involved actors, processes: development as well as deployment and Technologies.
  • People Awareness and Education
  • Web Application Security Training
  • Security Requirements and Abuse Cases
  • Threat Modelling
  • Secure Design Guidelines
  • Secure Coding Guidelines and Security Code Review
  • Testing for web application security
  • Secure administration and Security within Change Management
  • Deployment WebAppSec Controls
  • WebAppSec Tools
  • Starting and improving an SDLC
  • Web Application Security Roles and Responsibilities
This 4 hour education track in only the beginning of your journey. Web application security is a moving target. New vulnerabilities and threats are discovered regularly. Web application security controls are becoming mature. The following resources should provide you with enough pointers to serve both as reference and for further research.
  • Hard Copy
  • Web Sites
  • Mailing lists
  • Blogs
  • Roundup (10 min)