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In C.3.1.15. Session Management Vulnerability, add "Cross site request forgery", "Cookie attributes not set securely (e.g. domain, secure and HTTPonly)" and "Overly long session timeout" to examples.
In C.3.1.15. Session Management Vulnerability, add "Cross site request forgery", "Cookie attributes not set securely (e.g. domain, secure and HTTPonly)" and "Overly long session timeout" to examples.
=== Initial Comments ===

Revision as of 15:51, 23 November 2009

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Activity Name Draft NIST IR 7628
Short Description Provide response to "NIST IR 7628 Draft Smart Grid Cyber Security Strategy and Requirements"
Related Projects None
Email Contacts & Roles Primary
Colin Watson
Mailing list
Please use the Industry Committee list
  • Review Draft IR - in particular issues relating to web application security
  • Where appropriate, draft a response for submission
  • Submit the response as an official OWASP statement
  • 11 Nov 2009 - Circulate to OWASP lists for comment
  • 18 Nov 2009 - Deadline for comments from OWASP lists
  • 18 Nov 2009 - Complete final draft response
  • 18 Nov 2009 - Submit for approval by Global Industry Committee
  • 25 Nov 2009 - Submit to NIST
  • In progress
Resources Call for responses, 25 Sep 2009

Full draft text

Submit comments to sctgdraftcomments(at) with "Comments IR 7628" in the subject line.

Submission Response

Latest first

Final version


Draft Text version 1

This response is submitted on behalf of the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) by the OWASP Global Industry Committee

DHS- Supplemental Guidance

"The organization specifically authorizes and monitors the use of guest/anonymous accounts and removes, disables, or otherwise secures unnecessary accounts."

We recommend: This text is amended to mention that anonymous/guest accounts are not recommended whenever reasonably avoidable.

DHS-2.15.20/ NIST SP 800-53 AC-7 Unsuccessful Login Attempts

Comments: In possibly publicly accessible systems, it may be difficult to identify a particular user and multiple invalid authentication attempts should be restricted by total errors, and by errors from host address ranges, as well as by user account.

We recommend: In Supplemental Guidance add "Automatic lockouts by remote address range may also need to be considered where multiple accounts are targeted in a brute force attack on authentication mechanisms."

DHS-2.15.19/ NIST SP 800-53 AC-9 Previous Logon Notification

It is useful to see not only the previous successful logon, but all recent significant activity.

We recommend: Add "The system notifies the user of all successful and unsuccessful logon attempts in the last week/month/quarter" and add "The system notifies the user of all critical changes (CRUD) undertaken, on the system or by other methods (e.g., automatic patching), in the last week/month/quarter"

DHS-2.16.2/ NIST SP 800-53 AU-2, AU-13 Auditable Events

The OWASP Enterprise Security API (ESAPI) Toolkits help software developers guard against security-related design and implementation flaws. The exception classes (e.g., in the Java EE version) define the types of security-related errors that should be identified and logged for web applications.

For web applications, the exception classes defined in the current version of the OWASP ESAPI project should be used as a guide.

DHS-2.16.3/ NIST SP 800-53 AU-3 Content of Audit Records

For web applications, additional information is available which assist with the creation of a full audit trail. In Supplemental Guidance add "The user agent, remote host and any x-forwarded-for values should also be recorded for web enabled systems. In higher risk systems or more critical functions (identified by type, location or subject) the request headers, response headers and response body could also be included.".

OWASP Enterprise Security API, The Open Web Application Security Project,

OWASP ESAPI Java EE error exception classes, The Open web Application Security Project,

For web applications, the record content defined in the current version of the OWASP ESAPI project should be used as a guide i.e.

  • provide a mechanism for setting the logging level threshold that is currently enabled. This usually works by logging all events at and above that severity level, and discarding all events below that level. This is usually done via configuration, but can also be made accessible programmatically.
  • ensure that dangerous HTML characters are encoded before they are logged to defend against malicious injection into logs that might be viewed in an HTML based log viewer.
  • encode any CRLF characters included in log data in order to prevent log injection attacks.
  • avoid logging the user's session ID. Rather, they should log something equivalent like a generated logging session ID, or a hashed value of the session ID so they can track session specific events without risking the exposure of a live session's ID.
  • record the following information with each event:
    • identity of the user that caused the event,
    • a description of the event (supplied by the caller),
    • whether the event succeeded or failed (indicated by the caller),
    • severity level of the event (indicated by the caller),
    • that this is a security relevant event (indicated by the caller),
    • hostname or IP where the event occurred (and ideally the user's source IP as well),
    • a time stamp
  • filter out any sensitive data specific to the current application or organization.

DHS-2.10.3/ NIST SP 800-53 CA-2 System Monitoring and Evaluation

Penetration testing is an essential component of a comprehensive security program and is a key way in which compliance efforts related to FIPS 200 and NIST 800-53 can make a material impact on system security.

Also in the supplemental guidance, "Changing security requirements and discovery of vulnerabilities necessitate a review.", changes to the environment such as new threats should also necessitate a review.

DHS-2.8.7/ NIST SP 800-53 SC-2, SC-7, SC-32 Boundary Protection

Administrative functions should be appropriately segregated from user activity, so the latter cannot access or utilize administrator functionality.

We recommend adding to the Supplemental Guidance, "Web administrative interfaces should use separate authentication methods for users of any other resources. This may include isolating the administrative interface on a different domain and with additional access controls. In a web application environment, if a higher value system does not use strong authentication and encrypted channels to log on to the interface, the system may be vulnerable from privilege escalation, eavesdropping, man in the middle and replay attacks."

Administrative Interfaces, pp220-222, A Guide to Building Secure Web Applications and Web Services, v2.0, The Open Web Application Security Project,

DHS-2.8.16/ NIST SP 800-53 SC-18 Mobile Code

We recommend providing a greater level of detail and references to specific vulnerabilities - including XSS, CSRF and others. We also recommend referencing external best practices like the OWASP Top 10:

DHS-2.8.17/ NIST SP 800-53 SC-19 Voice-Over Internet Protocol

If used, any administrative access points should be included in vulnerability assessment and penetration testing efforts.

DHS-2.14.3/ NIST SP 800-53 SI-3 Malicious Code Protection

Malicious code may be present in custom-built software. This could include time bombs, back doors, Easter eggs, salami attacks and other types of attack that could affect business processes. Traditional anti-malware products are not built to detect such code, and instead secure development, procurement, configuration and monitoring practices are required to ensure software does not perform functions other than those intended.

We recommend that enhancements item 12 "12. The authenticity of all firmware/software shall be verified prior to loading on any component of the AMI system or device connected to the AMI network." should also mention that verification needs to "examine and test all software for malicious code". Also add an enhancement "Verify software quality (including security) before configuration and monitors for, and performs audits to identify, unauthorized changes to production software code."

Malicious Code Verification Requirements, V13, OWASP Application Security Verification Standards (ASVS), The Open Web Application Security Project

DHS-2.14.10/ NIST SP 800-53 SI-10 Information Input Accuracy, Completeness, Validity, and Authenticity

Software developers often expect a single value for each data input, but bad design or a malicious user might lead to more than one value being submitted. The format and content of structured data should be tested against what is defined. Information could be accurate, complete, valid and authentic but still be contrary to valid business logic. These concerns need to be built into the checking processes.

Validity checks should include "character set, length, numerical range, acceptable values, integrity, character set and cardinality". Also where a specification exists for data (e.g., an XML schema, data interchange standard), both compliance with the permissible structure and the values contained should be undertaken. The validity of information may depend on other factors such as business logic, timing and related transactions.

Reference: Data Validation, pp161-172, A Guide to Building Secure Web Applications and Web Services, v2.0, The Open Web Application Security Project,

DHS-2.14.12/ NIST SP 800-53 SI-12 Information Output Handling and Retention

There should be appropriate encoding/encryption of information generated by the system or supplied to other systems. The proper validation, formatting and encoding of such information is just as important as making sure the inputs are correct. Incorrect output checking could leak sensitive information. For web applications, incorrect output encoding can lead to issues such as cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks on web browser users.

Appendix C NIST CSCTG Vulnerability Classes

In C.3.1.3. Authorization Vulnerability, add "Insecure direct object references" and "Failure to restrict URL access" to examples.

In C.3.1.7. General Logic Errors, add "Business logic flaw" to examples.

In C.3.1.8. Input Validation, change title to "Input and Output Validation", and add "Unvalidated redirects and forwards" to examples.

In C.3.1.12. Protocol Errors, add "Insufficient transport layer protection", "Use of weak SSL/TLS protocols", "SSL key exchange without authentication", "SSL weak key exchange" and "Low SSL cipher strength" to examples.

SSL Server Rating Guide

In C.3.1.13. Range and Type Error Vulnerability, add "Cardinality incorrect", "Value integrity modification" and "Sequencing or timing error" to examples.

In C.3.1.15. Session Management Vulnerability, add "Cross site request forgery", "Cookie attributes not set securely (e.g. domain, secure and HTTPonly)" and "Overly long session timeout" to examples.

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