Welcome!

Log Management Authors: Dana Gardner, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, David H Deans, Carmen Gonzalez

Blog Feed Post

The Web 2.0 API: From collaborating to compromised

Are you protecting your Web 2.0 APIs?

As Web 2.0 applications continue to expand from connected to collaborative via the extensive use of APIs it behooves developers and security professionals alike to consider the ramifications of providing this necessary yet dangerous avenue of entry into their application infrastructure.

Too many discussions around web application security are focused on the user-facing web interfaces and ignore the potentially more dangerous collaboration-focused interfaces that make up the API. What makes them more dangerous is that they almost always offer an XML exchange format, but it is rare that these services are thoroughly tested against XML-focused attacks. The problem with this is that the XML API provides a nice back-door through which attacks can be executed that are designed to affect the users. This is because the XML API is simply another means by which the application can be accessed by third-party developers and applications.

And, of course, miscreants.

If your XML APIs are less-well tested than traditional web-interfaces it may be because of the differences inherent in the tools and skill-sets necessary to properly test them against attacks. An SQL injection attack may look the same regardless of whether it’s transported via an HTTP POST response or XML, but the way in which the encompassing data, the envelope if you will, must be interpreted and parsed in order to discover that attack requires very different methods and skill sets. There are also a variety of XML-focused attacks that are not prevalent in traditional web-based application data exchanges such as XPath injection, schema poisoning, and exploitation of required parsing mechanisms.

Fortunately, there are a plethora of tools and options available that address both the difference in tools and knowledge necessary to test and protect XML APIs. Many of them are freely available and contain the combined knowledge of many experts, such as those maintained by OWASP.

OWASP and XML

OWASP, the Open Web Application Security Project, is often overshadowed by other efforts to improve web application security. The depth and breadth of information available through OWASP is often a surprise to even the most seasoned security folks. OWASP is a non-profit organization that relies on contributions from an active, knowledgeable community to create and maintain information and tools on across a wide variety of web application security concerns.

An excellent example of the usefulness of OWASP is in the area of XML-based exploits and testing. An example of the thoroughness of OWASP’s security expertise can be seen in its documentation around one of the most simplest of XML security concerns: enforcing well-formedness. What is often lacking in discussions of security is actionable help for testing. After all, most developers aren’t malicious miscreants, so coming up with a test-case to determine the security – or lack thereof – of an application against a particular attack can be difficult. OWASP solves this problem by providing examples that can be used to not only enable a developer to understand the core of the attack, but that can be used in testing. In the case of enforcing well-formedness, OWASP provides the following simple but effective example:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>
<note id="666"><to>OWASP
<from>EOIN</from>
<heading>I am Malformed </to></heading>
<body>Don’t forget me this weekend!</body>
</note>

OWASP also offers tools, free of charge, to assist in the security testing of XML and web-services. WSDigger, for example, comes with sample plug-ins that can generate several XML attacks for use in testing Web 2.0 APIs or any other XML-based application. WSDigger can help automate tests for:

  • SQL injection
  • cross site scripting
  • XPATH injection attacks

What’s great about OWASP is that goes further than just telling you how to test web applications and APIs, it also provides guidance and assistance in remediation. That’s important because once you find out your application is vulnerable you need to address the vulnerability. Secure coding is the goal, after all, and having concrete examples of what to look for and how to fix it aids in the skill set necessary for developers to improve their secure coding techniques. For developers who really want to dig in and learn secure coding best practices, which are unfortunately not taught in most universities today, OWASP is the organization behind the WebGoat Project, “a deliberately insecure J2EE web application maintained by OWASP designed to teach web application security lessons”. And best of all given today’s tight budgets, it’s completely free.

Some might view OWASPs focus on secure coding as a condemnation of web application firewalls. Not true at all. While the primary goal of OWASP is to encourage secure coding practices through education and information, it also recognizes that a web application firewall may be the primary or secondary line of defense for an organization. To help organizations choose a WAF, OWASP offers guidance on the selection criteria it believes is most important, and encourages the use of the Web Application Firewall Evaluation Criteria.

IF YOU AREN’T TESTING THAT API, YOU SHOULD

Given the amount of information, tools, and assistance provided for free from OWASP and for nominal fees at other organizations, there’s no valid reason to not be thoroughly testing Web 2.0 APIs. The use of XML as a primary method of data transport across a growing number of sites simply increases the attack surface across which miscreants can attempt to spread malicious data.

Given the connectedness inherent in social networking and Web 2.0, the sharing of malicious data from one application can potentially affect not just thousands of users, but thousands of users of connected applications, essentially turning a large portion of the Web 2.0 network into a giant, automated bot-net like distribution network for miscreants to use and abuse at will.

So be certain to evaluate the security posture of your web application APIs as thoroughly as you would its user-interface.

Follow me on Twitter View Lori's profile on SlideShare friendfeedicon_facebook AddThis Feed Button Bookmark and Share

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
There are many examples of disruption in consumer space – Uber disrupting the cab industry, Airbnb disrupting the hospitality industry and so on; but have you wondered who is disrupting support and operations? AISERA helps make businesses and customers successful by offering consumer-like user experience for support and operations. We have built the world’s first AI-driven IT / HR / Cloud / Customer Support and Operations solution.
Codete accelerates their clients growth through technological expertise and experience. Codite team works with organizations to meet the challenges that digitalization presents. Their clients include digital start-ups as well as established enterprises in the IT industry. To stay competitive in a highly innovative IT industry, strong R&D departments and bold spin-off initiatives is a must. Codete Data Science and Software Architects teams help corporate clients to stay up to date with the mod...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Druva is the global leader in Cloud Data Protection and Management, delivering the industry's first data management-as-a-service solution that aggregates data from endpoints, servers and cloud applications and leverages the public cloud to offer a single pane of glass to enable data protection, governance and intelligence-dramatically increasing the availability and visibility of business critical information, while reducing the risk, cost and complexity of managing and protecting it. Druva's...
BMC has unmatched experience in IT management, supporting 92 of the Forbes Global 100, and earning recognition as an ITSM Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader for five years running. Our solutions offer speed, agility, and efficiency to tackle business challenges in the areas of service management, automation, operations, and the mainframe.
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
DSR is a supplier of project management, consultancy services and IT solutions that increase effectiveness of a company's operations in the production sector. The company combines in-depth knowledge of international companies with expert knowledge utilising IT tools that support manufacturing and distribution processes. DSR ensures optimization and integration of internal processes which is necessary for companies to grow rapidly. The rapid growth is possible thanks, to specialized services an...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Scala Hosting is trusted by 50 000 customers from 120 countries and hosting 700 000+ websites. The company has local presence in the United States and Europe and runs an internal R&D department which focuses on changing the status quo in the web hosting industry. Imagine every website owner running their online business on a fully managed cloud VPS platform at an affordable price that's very close to the price of shared hosting. The efforts of the R&D department in the last 3 years made that pos...