Web Application Vulnerability Assessment Essentials

The Vulnerability Assessment

Now you're ready for the vulnerability assessment. Believe it or not, much of the hard work is already done: deciding the scope, and then classifying and prioritizing your applications. Now, assuming you've already acquired a web security scanner and have identified who will conduct the manual scan for business logic errors, you're ready to take a whack at your application.

The resulting report, based on the security health of the application, will provide you a list of high, medium, and low priority vulnerabilities. At this point, you'll need someone to vet the automated vulnerability assessment results to find any false positives, or vulnerabilities identified by the scanner, but don't actually exist. If it seems overwhelming, don't fret; we'll delve into how to prioritize and remedy these web security vulnerabilities in the next installment. About the same time as your automated vulnerability assessment, the manual assessment will be underway. During the manual assessment, the expert will look for logic errors in the application: Is it possible for users to conduct transactions in ways the developers hadn't anticipated? Such as the ability of someone to tamper with application values that are being passed from the client to the server to alter the price of an item. The manual vulnerability assessment will end with a list of all vulnerabilities to web security found, and the assessor should prioritize the risks posed by each problem - based on the ease of exploiting the vulnerability, and the potential harm that could result if an attacker is successful.

Now you have your list of web security vulnerabilities, both technical and logic. And, if your organization is like most others, you have some remedying work to do. The challenge now is to prioritize what needs to be fixed, so that your existing applications can be hardened, and those being built can be remedied and safely placed into production.

While the list of web security issues may be long, you've completed the first major phase on the road to a highly secure application. Take comfort in the fact that your vulnerability assessment has identified problems in your applications before they were attacked by competitors, lone-hackers, or organized crime. In the next article, Effective Web Application Vulnerability Remediation Strategies, we'll show you how to prioritize your remediation work so that development time isn't prolonged, and existing applications at risk are remedied before they can be attacked.

About Caleb Sima

Caleb Sima is the co-founder of SPI Dynamics, a web application security products company. He currently serves as the CTO and director of SPI Labs, SPI Dynamics' R&D security team. Prior to co-founding SPI Dynamics, Caleb was a member of the elite X-Force R&D team at Internet Security Systems, and worked as a security engineer for S1 Corporation. Caleb is a regular speaker and press resource on web application security testing methods and has contributed to (IN)Secure Magazine, Baseline Magazine and been featured in the Associated Press.

About Vincent Liu

Vincent Liu, CISSP, CCNA, is the managing director at Stach & Liu, a professional services firm providing advanced IT security solutions. Before founding Stach & Liu, Vincent led the Attack & Penetration and Reverse Engineering teams for the Global Security unit at Honeywell International. Vincent is an experienced speaker and has presented his research at conferences including BlackHat, ToorCon, and Microsoft BlueHat. He has been published in interviews, journals, and books with highlights including: Penetration Tester's Open Source Toolkit; Writing Security Tools and Exploits; Sockets, Shellcode, Porting, and Coding; and the upcoming Hacking Exposed: Wireless.

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Caleb Sima United States

Caleb Sima is the former co-founder and CTO of SPI Dynamics, which was acquired by HP Software...

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