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Developer's Guide to Web Application Security Paperback – Feb 1 2007
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About the Author
Michael Cross (MCSE, MCP+I, CNA, Network+) is an Internet Specialist/Computer Forensic Analyst with the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS). He performs computer forensic examinations on computers involved in criminal investigation. He also has consulted and assisted in cases dealing with computer-related/Internet crimes. In addition to designing and maintaining the NRPS Web site at www.nrps.com and the NRPS intranet, he has provided support in the areas of programming, hardware, and network administration. As part of an information technology team that provides support to a user base of more than 800 civilian and uniform users, he has a theory that when the users carry guns, you tend to be more motivated in solving their problems.
Michael also owns KnightWare (www.knightware.ca), which provides computer-related services such as Web page design, and Bookworms (www.bookworms.ca), where you can purchase collectibles and other interesting items online. He has been a freelance writer for several years, and he has been published more than three dozen times in numerous books and anthologies. He currently resides in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, with his lovely wife, Jennifer, his darling daughter, Sara, and charming son, Jason.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The focus on the programmer is also welcomed. Many security books deal with threats, but the actual practice of programming to ameliorate those threats may not be readily apparent. One would like support for a programmer "security mindset" and specific strategies to implement that.
The book is addressed to programmers and written in a fashion that is engaging. And, as a more general work to highlight the importance of security at the development stage, it's OK.
But, there's just not much depth here for it's intended topic. And, the content appears to reflect lectures presented in the 90s. There's some significant reference to C, which is not typically used in contemporary web programming. The focus tends towards the *nix world, but again a fair amount of emphasis, as I recall, on cgi, where again, PHP is more commonly used today. References in the Microsoft world are exclusively to ASP -- a technology which was superseded in 2002 by ASP.NET.
There's some appropriate programming advice here. But, it's soft rather than hard, and diffuse and general rather than focused and specific.
I would rate it 3 stars for that content if it were more appropriately titled.
Each of the chapters in this book seem to follow a pattern of first defining the topic, second giving real world examples, and finally providing the reader with solutions. The book begins by providing a history of the hacking methodology and defining the various types of hacking. It was interesting to learn about some of the various hacks and hackers. For example, I had no idea Steve Jobs (Apple Computers) used to be a hacker.
In chapter two the author discusses what he calls a "Code Grinder", and how to not become or produce a code grinder. A code grinder is someone who works in a highly regulated environment where creativity is discouraged. I found it interesting that a code grinder environment typically produces more unsecure code then an environment that is open and promotes creativity.
Chapter three discusses the risks associated with mobile code. Chapter four covers vulnerable CGI scripts and introduces the reader to some tools such as Nikto and Web Hack Control Center to scan your website to find vulnerabilities. The author goes on to discuss the issues faced by the various CGI scripting languages, and then provides an outline of rules to writing secure CGI scripts.
Chapter five covers hacking techniques and tools. This section gets you into the mind of a hacker, what are their goals, how are those goals achieved and what tools do they use. In chapter six the topic is "Code Auditing and Reverse Engineering." This chapter I found exceptionally interesting and helpful. The author takes you through various types of vulnerabilities and with each weakness explains how it affects each of the more popular programming/scripting languages. And to take it a step further the author also provides the reader with the functions/methods for each programming/scripting language that are vulnerable to attack and then explains either how to use those functions securely or gives an alternative function/method that is more secure.
Chapters seven through ten cover securing code in specific languages; Java, XML, ActiveX, and ColdFusion. Chapter eleven discusses developing security enabled applications using such technologies as PGP, SSL, and PKI. Finally in chapter twelve the author wraps up the book by taking the reader through creating and working with a security plan.
I found this book to be interesting and a good read. I plan to make use of some of the tools it introduced in hardening applications I work with and develop. And as I mentioned before, the chapter on code auditing will be extremely useful to me in cleaning up existing apps and developing new ones. I liked this book and I would recommend it to anyone who is writing code.
Throughout the book a hacker mindset is presented and how to design your website to overcome the tools and tricks of the hacker. For instance in many of the chapters the manner of attack that a hacker would use to exploit a piece of technology is covered. Overall I believe this book to be a good introduction to the field of securing websites. Since security in of itself is such a broad subject and the Internet is also a broad subject it is unfair to expect one book to cover all aspects of a complex and dynamic environment
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