OWASP Snakes and Ladders
- Web Applications Edition
- Mobile Apps Edition
- Road Map and Getting Involved
OWASP Snakes and Ladders
Snakes and Ladders is an educational project. It uses gamification to promote awareness of application security controls and risks, and in particular knowledge of other OWASP documents and tools.
In the board game for web applications, the virtuous behaviours (ladders) are secure coding practices (from OWASP Proactive Controls project 2014-2016) and the vices (snakes) are application security risks (from OWASP Top Ten Project 2013). See also a mapping between these two lists.
The identical board game for mobile apps uses mobile controls (from the Mobile Security Project Top Ten Controls 2013) as the virtuous behaviours and mobile risks (from the Top Ten Mobile Risks 2014 from the same project) as the vices.
Application Intrusion Detection
This board game was created to use as an ice-breaker in application security training, but it potentially has wider appeal simply as a promotional hand-out, and maybe also more usefully as learning materials for younger coders. To cover all of that, we use the phrase "OWASP Snakes and Ladders is meant to be used by software programmers, big and small".
The game is quite lightweight, and does not have the same rigour or depth as the card game Cornucopia, but it is meant to be just some fun with some learning attached.
Print-ready PDFs have been published - these are poster sized A2 (international ISO 216 paper size 420×594mm, approximately 16.5×23.4in, with 3mm bleed and printers' marks). But the original files are in Adobe Illustrator, so these are also available for anyone to use and improve upon. We recommend playing using a real die and counters (markers), but you can cut out and make these from the paper sheet itself if you have scissor and glue skills.
We hope it may be of use in any upcoming office party, celebration, festival, seasonal event, application security awareness or training exercise. Or just to help spread the word about controls and risks at work, at college or at school. If you are training anyone about the OWASP Top Ten, OWASP Proactive Controls or the OWASP Mobile projects, please consider giving each attendee a printed copy of the game as a take away.
OWASP Snakes and Ladders is free to use. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license, so you can copy, distribute and transmit the work, and you can adapt it, and use it commercially, but all provided that you attribute the work and if you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.
© OWASP Foundation
Other Security Gamification
If you are interested in using gaming for security, also see OWASP Cornucopia, Elevation of Privilege: The Threat Modeling Game, Security Cards from the University of Washington, the commercial card game Control-Alt-Hack (presentation for latter), and web application security training tools incorporating gamification such as OWASP Hackademic Challenges Project, OWASP Security Shepherd and ITSEC Games.
Additionally, Adam Shostack maintains a list of tabletop security games and related resources at security games.
What is This?
Snakes and Ladders is a popular board game, with ancient provenance imported into Great Britain from Asia in the 19th century. The original game showed the effects of good and evil, or virtues and vices. This OWASP game is a poster-sized print-your-own paper sheet with the game board on it. Just get some players together with a die and counters. The virtues are application security controls, and the vices are risks.
How to Play
News and Events
Follow two mock games running on Twitter:
OWASP Snakes and Ladders - Web Applications
This was the first edition created. The objective is to raise awareness of the security controls that every web application should have, but link that with the much more widely known Top Ten Risks. The virtuous behaviours (ladders) are secure coding practices (from OWASP Proactive Controls project 2014-2016) and the vices (snakes) are application security risks (from OWASP Top Ten Project 2013).
|BR: Português Brasileiro|
| Serpentes e Escadas
Aplicativos da Web
|DE: Deutsch||EN: English||ES: Español|
| Schlangen und Leitern
| Snakes and Ladders
| Serpientes y Escaleras|
|FR: Français||JA: 日本語||ZH: 中文|
| Serpents et Échelles
- [25 Nov 2014] 1.0.2 - Additional contributors added, FR, JA and ZH versions released
- [05 Nov 2014] 1.0.1 - Correction to paths in source Illustrator file; PDFs regenerated
- [31 Oct 2014] 1.0 - First release
Colour Scheme 'Classic'
This edition uses simple primary colours, like many versions that can be seen in pictures of Snakes and Ladders games. The colours used in 'Classic' are:
The start square (1) is yellow and the final square (100) is red.
OWASP Snakes and Ladders - Mobile Apps
The edition for Mobile Apps was created after working out the idea and design for the web application version of the board game. It seemed easy to replicate the idea since the OWASP Mobile Project lists both security controls and risks. The virtuous behaviours (ladders) are mobile controls (from the Mobile Security Project Top Ten Controls 2013) and the vices (snakes) are mobile risks (from the Top Ten Mobile Risks 2014).
|EN: English||JA: 日本語|
| Snakes and Ladders
- [02 Dec 2014] 1.0.2 - Additional contributor added, JA version released
- [05 Nov 2014] 1.0.1 - Correction to paths in source Illustrator file; EN PDF regenerated
- [31 Oct 2014] 1.0 - First release
Colour Scheme 'Farringdon'
Other people's versions of Snakes and Ladders use a wide variety of designs and colour schemes. Thus to make a complete contrast to the edition for web applications, the colours used are the designatory colours of the underground and mainline train services that run through Colin Watson's local station at Farringdon in Clerkenwell, London EC1. The colours in 'Farringdon' are:
- Purple (future Crossrail)
- Yellow (Circle)
- White (Thameslink)
- Maroon (Metropolitan)
- Pink (Hammersmith & City)
You can see these colours on tube maps and station signage. The start square (1) is yellow and the final square (100) is maroon.
Why Snakes & Ladders?
The OWASP Top 10 is the most well known document, but OWASP has many other resources which provide better approaches for secure application development. In particular, there are some "top 10 controls" lists, and I wanted to highlight those. Creating a board game that features both risks and controls is a simple way to compare and contrast these aspects.
Players do not need to know either the risks or controls on the lists, since they are just the decoration to what is otherwise standard Snakes & Ladders. But as players land on assigned squares, this can be used to discuss the risks and controls they are labelled with.
Also, after undertaking some due diligence, it was noted that since Snakes & Ladders is such an ancient game it is not anyone's intellectual property and many others have already created thousands of different designs and versions. Other games would not meet this requirement.
How was the game created?
By hard work! Each list of risks and controls contains ten items, so the rough layout of snakes and ladder starting and end points was sketched out on paper, as shown for web applications on the right. Instructional text was written.
The concept was then converted into a layered Adobe Illustrator file, and the text and graphics added. This design went through a number of iterations to ensure it was legible and appealing. The PDF was exported and both the PDF and AI files added to the project page. When translations were provided, these were added as separate text layers in the source Illustrator file, and then new files uploaded again to the project.
Once Web Applications Snakes & Ladders was complete, the file was duplicated and edited for Mobile Apps. This has different risks, controls and arrangement of snakes and ladders. It also has its own colour scheme.
How can I participate in your project?
All you have to do is make the Project Leader aware of your available time to contribute to the project. It is also important to let the Leader know how you would like to contribute and pitch in to help the project meet its goals and milestones. There are many different ways you can contribute to an OWASP Project, but communication with the leads is key. Please see the road map and getting involved section
If I am not a programmer can I participate in your project?
Yes, you can certainly participate in the project if you are not a programmer or technical. The project needs different skills and expertise and different times during its development. Currently, we are looking for users, translators and people to promote the project.
Snakes and Ladders is developed, maintained, updated and promoted by a worldwide team of volunteers. The contributors to date have been:
- Kembolle Amilkar
- Katy Anton
- Manuel Lopez Arredondo
- Fabio Cerullo
- Álan Carlos B. Eufrázio
- Tobias Gondrom
- Martin Haslinger
- Yongliang He
- Cédric Messeguer
- Takanori Nakanowatari
- Marcos Vinícius Nunes de Arruda
- Riotaro Okada
- Gabriel Pedro S. Peres
- Alison S. Ribeiro
- Ferdinand Vroom
- Ivy Zhang
- Colin Watson
As of June 2016, the priorities are:
- Update web applications edition to Proactive Controls 2016 [EN recently completed]
- Translate into other languages [BR recently completed]
Other ideas are:
- Promote use of Snakes and Ladders
- Create a project presentation
- Develop other boards
Involvement in the development and promotion of Snakes and Ladders is actively encouraged! You do not have to be a security expert in order to contribute. Some of the ways you can help are listed below.
Are you fluent in another language? Can you help translate Snakes and Ladders into that language?
The project is on Crowdin
Use and Promote the Board Game
Please help raise awareness of Snakes and Ladders:
- Use the game with your colleagues, friends, families, students and children
- Create video about how to play the game
- Develop a multi-user mobile app or web application to play the game
Please use the project mailing list for feedback:
- How did you use it?
- What is people's reaction?
- What do like?
- What don't you like?
- What doesn't make sense?
- How could the guidance be improved?
- What other boards would you like to see?
Create a Board
Do you have an idea for your own application security Snakes and Ladders board? Please contribute your ideas via the mailing list.