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Some Guidance on the Verification Process

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Verifying an application against the ASVS detailed verification requirements can be a complex task. Here is some guidance for certain situations.

  • Automated Verifications - Automated tools are generally signature based, where those signatures look for patterns of bad behavior which indicate there is a likely flaw in the application. Such tools do not usually perform a positive analysis on the application to verify that it is correct throughout the application with regard to the particular vulnerability being looked for. For example, tools may be good at finding certain types of cross site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities, but may not be good at finding all types, or may have difficulty when certain technologies are used, like AJAX. We don’t expect automated tools to be able detect all flaws in any of these areas. For Level 1, if an application passes the signatures, then it passes. The verifier simply needs to explain what the signatures actually do in the report so the reader can understand the benefit of the tool(s) used for each particular verification requirement.
  • Assessment of Off-The-Shelf Components as part of Automated or Manual Code Review (LEVELS 1B & 2B) - If you are performing a code review and you do not have access to the code for the security control being used, then you need to review the control’s documentation and (for Level 2B) any security configuration in order to verify that the security control meets the specified requirement. Similarly, if you do have access to the code, but the security control is data driven, you also have to review the configuration data (for Level 2B) to make sure the control is configured properly for this application, not just that the security mechanism works generically. The results of your documentation analysis and any configuration data review should be documented in the verification report.
  • Assessment of generic applications - If you are performing a review of a generic instance of an application rather than an application in a specific target environment, then the verification effort needs to make sure that the provided security controls work as advertised. This means determining what the provided security controls are supposed to be capable of, and then verifying that they work correctly in a variety of common configurations. If the generic application does not provide or only partially provides security controls in certain areas, and expects the deployment environment to provide them, then the verification report should state for each affected verification requirement what the application does or does not provide. The report should also state whether the current state of practice makes it reasonable to expect a deployment environment to provide the expected capabilities. It is expected that only a few ASVS requirements could be completely met by externally provided controls.