Developing secure software: how to implement the OWASP top 10 Proactive Controls

The checklists that follow are general lists that are categorised to follow the controls listed in the ‘OWASP Top 10 Proactive Controls’ project. These checklists provide suggestions that certainly should be tailored to an individual project’s requirements and environment; they are not meant to be followed in their entirety. OWASP Top 10 Proactive Controls describes the most important control and control categories that every architect and developer should absolutely, 100% include in every project. The Top 10 Proactive Controls are by developers for developers to assist those new to secure development. Secure access to databases can help thwart injection attacks, which are on the OWASP Top 10 list, and weak server-side control flaws, which are on the OWASP Mobile Top 10 list of vulnerabilities. OWASP Top 10 Proactive Controls contains security techniques that should be included in every software development project.

  • Access Control (or Authorization) is the process of granting or denying specific requests from a user, program, or process.
  • Although honest mistakes or carelessness on the part of non-malicious entities may enable authorization bypasses, malicious intent is typically required for access control threats to be fully realized.
  • And developers are discovering that great coding isn't just about speed and functionality, but also minimizing security risk.

The process begins with discovery and selection of security requirements. In this phase, the developer is understanding security requirements from a standard source such as ASVS and choosing which requirements to include for a given release of an application. The point of discovery and selection is to choose a manageable number of security requirements for this release or sprint, and then continue to iterate for each sprint, adding more security functionality over time. By defining the security requirements for an application, you can define its security functionality, build in security earlier in the development process, and avert the appearance of vulnerabilities later in the process. The following “positive” access control design requirements should be considered at the initial stages of application development. It lists security requirements such as authentication protocols, session management, and cryptographic security standards.

Data Classification¶

The OWASP Top 10 Proactive Controls is similar to the OWASP Top 10 but is focused on defensive techniques and controls as opposed to risks. Each technique or control in this document will map to one or more items in the risk based OWASP Top 10. This owasp top 10 proactive controls mapping information is included at the end of each control description. If there's one habit that can make software more secure, it's probably input validation. Here's how to apply OWASP Proactive Control C5 (Validate All Inputs) to your code.

what are owasp proactive controls

Ensure that access to all data stores is secure, including both relational databases and NoSQL databases. Access Control (or Authorization) is the process of granting or denying specific requests from a user, program, or process. Probably the best advice on checklists is given by the Application Security Verification Standard (ASVS).

Design Access Control Thoroughly Up Front¶

Other examples that require escaping data are operating system (OS) command injection, where a component may execute system commands that originate from user input, and hence carry the risk of malicious commands being executed. First, security vulnerabilities continue to evolve and a top 10 list simply can’t offer a comprehensive understanding of all the problems that can affect your software. Entirely new vulnerability categories such as XS Leaks will probably never make it to these lists, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about them. They provide structure for establishing good practices and processes and are also useful during code reviews and design activities. The ASVS requirements are basic verifiable statements which can be expanded upon with user stories and misuse cases. The advantage of a user story or misuse case is that it ties the application to exactly what the user or attacker does to the system, versus describing what the system offers to the user.

Cryptography (or crypto) is one of the more advanced topics of information security, and one whose understanding requires the most schooling and experience. It is difficult to get right because there are many approaches to encryption, each with advantages and disadvantages that need to be thoroughly understood by web solution architects and developers. In addition, serious cryptography research is typically based in advanced mathematics and number theory, providing a serious barrier to entry. Access Control (or Authorization) is the process of granting or denying specific requests from a user, program, or process. Access control also involves the act of granting and revoking those privileges.

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