08Jul2016

Application Development: NaCl and Sodium crypto libraries

Security concepts are very important at line of professional Application Development in enterprise scope. Cryptography helps us to achieve Integrity and Confidentiality as 2 of 3 main Security principles. Protocols needs us to encrypt and decrypt important data, specific content have to be signed and verified. For decades we used RSA, OpenSSL [https://www.openssl.org/] as general-purpose cryptography library and its wrappers. On the other hand, OpenSSL is not so easy to work with. It needs both some level of understanding cryptography and its approaches as a whole and pure implementation aspects of OpenSSL, as well. For now, we have much better approaches. Easy to use, but strong at line of cryptography and implementation.

NaCl

Daniel J. Bernstein (with colleagues) released NaCl library [https://nacl.cr.yp.to/] several years ago. It’s pronounced “slat”. The main goal was to bring easy-to-use solution for software developers, who need just-work cryptography in their projects. Simplicity is the key point of the interface of the framework. On the other hand, it covers all duties of cryptography library and provides all common routines: hashing, public-key encryption, signing and authenticated encryption. E.g., authenticated encryption is an algorithm including 3 steps mixed in one of 3 ways. NaCl provide single interface crypto_box, which is done everything in one step. Such approach is much safer. Developer can’t break something in the flow. Main implementation of the library is in C, C++ and python. C version can be used in embedded Application Development. It doesn’t depend on dynamic memory allocation. There are several implementations of the same function.

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23May2016

Application Development: JWT approach in scalable microservices architecture

Microservices architecture [http://martinfowler.com/articles/microservices.html] is a mature robust Web Application Development approach are widely used among all web development platforms. It allows easy integration, deployment and horizontal scaling for VPS, pure cloud or dedicated hosting.

Scalability problem

Generally, there would be several application instances runned on the same system or separated machines. User may connect or send request to any of front-end server and that transaction may be processed by any of instance of the next layer. That looks ok till we receive another request of the same user, which involves the result of previous transaction or an object specified for this case and this user. It’s called the state. And if it holds the state on specific instance, then the request have to be routed to that instance to be processed. Another approach is to share the state among all instances we have in the cluster. Both cases needs additional efforts for design, implementation and support. JWT provides a solution for this problem.

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18Jun2015

Application Security: Cross-site scripting (XSS)

Professional web development standards are very high nowadays. It doesn’t matter how big your team or budget. Application Security is extremely important for project of any size. Huge software companies may even have separate departments working on security tasks only. There are manual code review of existing solutions, automation of scanning for well-known vulnerabilities by special tools, writing unit and integration tests, research the cases, implementation of modern approaches. On the other hand, if you are sole developer in your startup (or even single contributor at all), you have to spend some time playing this role as well.

Sources of the harmful code

Cross-site scripting or XSS is the most widely exploited security hole in Web. At first sight, it seems not very dangerous for Application Security, because there is no obvious way to harm the system or damage the data on the server side. Generally, the main goal of XSS attack is to execute custom JavaScript code in the browser of the user. To be executed, that code have to pass into the page in some way. There are 2 options for hacker to achieve it. First, and the most known, is saving JavaScript code as a part of Web 2.0 content on the server side provided by users of the service.

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16Jun2014

Password Manager is a must-have for both the security and the life

The Number of web sites and services in our daily duties grows from year to year. Each service requires standard user authentication. Generally, Application Security started with login/password pair, for all of us. It’s not easy to remember even dozen strong passwords, particularly if some service is used once per month. Keep in mind, we have to use different passwords. Usage of the same password for many web sites is the most worst thing a user can do at line of Application Security.

OpenID vs. Login/password schema

Modern web sites nowadays uses third-party authentication based on OpenID technology

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10Aug2013

Best ways to defend your web applications in 2013

We have to admit that usual ways of securing the application like firewalls are not working now. On the other hand more and more people are now using web applications and this is what shall be defended properly. Let’s see the best ways of how to secure the web application.

The strategy will mostly depend on the structure and architecture of the current application. Remember to test every defending system you come up with.

The main course will be the total agnosticism in the programming language.

The most suited case for the application developers and protectors is the well-known DEV522: Defending Web Applications Security Essentials.

Here is the list of main topics to be discussed there:

  • Application language configuration
  • Application coding errors like SQL Injection and Cross-Site Scripting
  • Infrastructure Security
  • Server Configuration
  • Authentication Bypass
  • Web services and related flaws
  • Authentication mechanisms
  • XPATH and XQUERY languages and injection
  • Business logic flaws
  • Cross-Site Request Forging
  • Web 2.0 and its use of web services
  • Protective HTTP Headers
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13Mar2012

Application security of .NET Framework 4

.Net Framework 4.0 is the latest example of the .Net development with the serious innovations in security field. There we can see the completely new policy known as Security Transparency. Now it’s the default mechanism.

So what Application Security does the Security Transparency policy offer? First of all it enables you to use the modern Security transparent code, which basically consists of three main parts:
– sandboxing
– permissions
– enforcement

Speaking about sandboxing we usually mean the creation of the isolated domain with the code to be treated in a form of fully trusted version. The other code will get the restricted permission to the sandbox. The code that was chosen to be opened to the sandbox is usually considered to be mostly transparent.  This way you won’t change it while the process of the .Net development.

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12Aug2011

The Research report from the Application Security: 2011 & Beyond

The completely new study of the Application Security was offered by Forrester Research in April this year. The title of the study is Application Security: 2011 & Beyond, the course was led by well known Dr Chenxi Wang, who takes the position of the lead analyst of the company. He offers the results of multiple valuable researches, as well as several insights and the whole list of useful recommendations given to the professionals working in the security and risk fields. The study was run in the closed form before, yet now it’s opened for the audience and all the people can attend it. Dr Wang hopes it will certainly raise the awareness of the importance of the development in the field of application security.

The sufficient resources were observed in the following report. According to the given information, the application security is still very important for business of all kinds. However though it’s officially considered as the primary priority of all the professionals in IT sector, still a lot off applications have been hacked lately. A lot of important data was taken away or changed drastically.

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25May2011

Java application security by Google

The famous Google decided to borrow the technique from the Eiffel and added the special Design-By-Contract functionality as the way of protecting from the buffer overflow attacks in Java.

The announcement was made on Friday, the company proclaimed its engineers are working on the project and the results are ready to be shown soon. The new functionality received the name Contracts a.k.a. DBC (Design-By-Contact).

The implementation also got the special name Cofoja, which is actually the shortened version of the Contract for Java.

The author of the renovation appeared to be Johannes Rieken. The primary goal was to ease the programming and to strengthen the Java application security. This way the developers will get the perfect protection from the buffer overflow attacks which become more recent nowadays.
This kind of compromise is the oldest one; still it’s effective enough to be used. According to Microsoft statistics, there were over two and a half million of possible attacks registered, each of those could be waged with the help of the Java Runtime Engine.

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01Dec2010

Application security enhancements within JavaOne 2010 presentation

The conference of the JavaOne 2010 was partially dedicated to the question of the application security enhancements, concerning the new Java EE 6.

This program has been presented to the users a year ago and obtains the list of the significant enhancements, most of them appearing in the areas of the annotation, those like authorization and authentication in the Internet. So if the field of your interest lies in the lightweight web applications, still the EJB components is definitely not your choice, you may opt for implementing the authentication and the aspects of the authorization within the Controller classes (Servlets) for application security enhancements.

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