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The Art of Software Security Assessment: Identifying and Preventing Software Vulnerabilities Paperback – Nov 20 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1200 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (Nov. 20 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780321444424
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321444424
  • ASIN: 0321444426
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 5.8 x 23.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #109,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From the Back Cover

“There are a number of secure programming books on the market, but none that go as deep as this one. The depth and detail exceeds all books that I know about by an order of magnitude.

Halvar Flake,CEO and head of research, SABRE Security GmbH


The Definitive Insider's Guide to Auditing Software Security


This is one of the most detailed, sophisticated, and useful guides to software security auditing ever written.The authors are leading security consultants and researchers who have personally uncovered vulnerabilities in applications ranging from sendmail to Microsoft Exchange, Check Point VPN to Internet Explorer. Drawing on their extraordinary experience, they introduce a start-to-finish methodology for “ripping apart applications to reveal even the most subtle and well-hidden security flaws.


The Art of Software Security Assessmentcovers the full spectrum of software vulnerabilities in both UNIX/Linux and Windows environments. It demonstrates how to audit security in applications of all sizes and functions, including network and Web software. Moreover, it teaches using extensive examples of real codedrawn from past flaws in many of the industry's highest-profile applications.


Coverage includes


• Code auditing: theory, practice, proven methodologies, and secrets of the trade

• Bridging the gap between secure software design and post-implementation review

• Performing architectural assessment: design review, threat modeling, and operational review

• Identifying vulnerabilities related to memory management, data types, and malformed data

• UNIX/Linux assessment: privileges, files, and processes

• Windows-specific issues, including objects and the filesystem

• Auditing interprocess communication, synchronization, and state

• Evaluating network software: IP stacks, firewalls, and common application protocols

• Auditing Web applications and technologies


This book is an unprecedented resource for everyone who must deliver secure software or assure the safety of existing software: consultants, security specialists, developers, QA staff, testers, and administrators alike.




PREFACE     xvii


I Introduction to Software Security Assessment





II Software Vulnerabilities










III Software Vulnerabilities in Practice


15 FIREWALLS    891





INDEX     1129

About the Author

Mark Dowd is a principal security architect at McAfee, Inc. and an established expert in the field of application security. His professional experience includes several years as a senior researcher at Internet Security Systems (ISS) X-Force, and the discovery of a number of high-profile vulnerabilities in ubiquitous Internet software. He is responsible for identifying and helping to address critical flaws in Sendmail, Microsoft Exchange Server, OpenSSH, Internet Explorer, Mozilla (Firefox), Checkpoint VPN, and Microsoft’s SSL implementation. In addition to his research work, Mark presents at industry conferences, including Black Hat and RUXCON.


John McDonald is a senior consultant with Neohapsis, where he specializes in advanced application security assessment across a broad range of technologies and platforms. He has an established reputation in software security, including work in security architecture and vulnerability research for NAI (now McAfee), Data Protect GmbH, and Citibank. As a vulnerability researcher, John has identified and helped resolve numerous critical vulnerabilities, including issues in Solaris, BSD, Checkpoint FireWall-1, OpenSSL, and BIND.


Justin Schuh is a senior consultant with Neohapsis, where he leads the Application Security Practice. As a senior consultant and practice lead, he performs software security assessments across a range of systems, from embedded device firmware to distributed enterprise web applications. Prior to his employment with Neohapsis, Justin spent nearly a decade in computer security activities at the Department of Defense (DoD) and related agencies. His government service includes a role as a lead researcher with the National Security Agency (NSA) penetration testing team–the Red Team.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa0f23eac) out of 5 stars 25 reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
By David Aitel - Published on
Format: Paperback
The temptation with a massive book, such as this one, is to use it as a reference. While no doubt valuable as a quick reference for people looking to know the exact problems with any given C API ("snprintf does what differently on Windows and Unix?"), this book is best read page by page. There are surprises sprinkled throughout. Vulnerable example code is taken from real software applications, such as OpenBSD 3.6, Netscape, and OpenSSH. Of course, more than just a collection of code with mistakes highlighted, this book has a powerful methodology, complete with "Desk-checking", "Scorecards" and other useful tricks.

This book is not about binary analysis; assembly language is used only to demonstrate tricky C code.

Unlike many books with multiple authors, this is an extremely well put together book that flows naturally from chapter to chapter. The chapters on C auditing are amazing. The chapters on web assessment, while not the most in-depth chapters in the book, still contain a lot of information that is covered nowhere else (servlet race conditions, for example).

In fact, almost everything in this book is, if not new, covered more expertly than anywhere I've seen. For anyone doing software security assessment, this book is required reading. All 1200 pages of it.

Score: 5/5
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa07bb678) out of 5 stars Bible? Rather hell without redemption! Nov. 29 2008
By Michael Schuerig - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book was like a blow to the head for me. I'm not a security person, I'm not coveting ever more arcane vulnerabilities. Rather, I'm the poor guy at the other end of things: I'm a programmer. It's my job to avoid all the known and imaginable vulnerabilities while at the same time providing some useful functionality to my customers.

You bet I wouldn't like some self-styled security "researcher" tear apart my poor little programs and expose all their failings. What's troubling me, after reading this book, is that it looks very much like I hardly stand a chance. Security would be hard with the best of tools, unfortunately, at least when it comes to systems programming, the tools -- C, low-level APIs -- are dubious at best and introduce lots and lots of problems of their own. These tools hail from a happier time long ago when we were still trusting trust. I was overcome by a mixture of horror and chagrin when I saw proof in this book that not even the people writing sensitive security software (such as OpenSSH) wield these tools artfully enough to avoid vulnerabilities.

And this is where I come to the only beef I have with an otherwise comprehensive book. It's like a field guide to dangerous beasts that teaches you to recognize sabre-toothed tigers, but doesn't tell you how to get rid of them. Contrary to what the subtitle promises about preventing software vulnerabilities, there is just too little about it. This is a considerable shortcoming, in my view, as a lot of the demonstrated vulnerabilities don't have trivial remedies even after they are exposed.

Wrapping up, I feel left alone in the twilight and I think I saw a tiger over there.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4527930) out of 5 stars A must have Dec 6 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
As a security researcher it is often hard to recommend books to people. A lot of the things you know come from actually doing it and I find it hard to explain to people the how and the why of what I do. That problem is now solved with the publication of the Art of Software Security Assessment. The book was written by 3 people very familiar with the problems of software security and even more so 3 people who actually know what they are talking about when it comes to what a bug hunter looks for in bad code. Out of all the chapters I have read I have to be honest and say the chapter on Windows IPC (Chapter 12) is worth the price of admission alone. It describes Windows messaging and mailslots to a degree I have never seen publicly explained before but the crown jewel is the in-depth and concise explanation of the Windows implementation of RPC. A lot of the major worms you have heard of, like Blaster and Zotob are based on RPC exploits. One of the challenges for developers and security professionals alike is that RPC is generally very blackbox, meaning a developer uses a few functions to communicate but never really knows what's going on under the hood. This book solves the problem by explaining all the concepts and how to look for bad code.

I can not recommend this book enough if you are serious about security.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0f869c0) out of 5 stars The right book at a time people are ready to learn Dec 18 2006
By Stephen Northcutt - Published on
Format: Paperback
This should have been the third book in line to be reviewed, but as I leafed through it, once, twice, and a third time I started to realize this is one of those rare security books that has a chance to revolutionize the industry like Applied Cryptography, Snort 2.0, or Hacking Exposed. The longer you wait to read this book, the further you will fall behind. Nuff said?

Every week that goes by we see an increasing understanding in the community about how important secure software is and that it takes the appropriate development process to create secure software. This book is hitting the marketplace at the perfect time, I hope the authors and publishing team have a runaway success, you deserve it. I also hope people will be encouraged by this book, secure software development is certainly possible, this book clearly shows that. It takes management support in terms of resources, training and good process, but it can certainly be done.

At 1128 content pages, much of this material will be things that you have picked up in other places, such as other books or courses you have taken. Much of it will be things you once knew and forgot. But this is the most complete book on software security out there covering Windows, Unix, Network Protocols, Web and other Applications.

What I particularly love is the how approachable the majority of the information is. Please do not get me wrong, if you have never written a line of code you are going to be lost during the code examples, the only signpost you get is the occasional bolded line, but you will still be able to clearly follow the discussion before the code example and right after the code example.

Section 1 of the book is called an Introduction to Software Security Assessment. I was able to read that 164 pages all at one time ( though I was up to 2 AM doing it). This is foundational material and if you are responsible for software development as a manager, I recommend you read at least this one section.

The next section, Software Vulnerabilities, starts with a buffer overflow chapter. This is a test of any good security book. If they point to an ancient paper like Smashing the Stack and mumble an incoherent sentence or two, you know they probably don't know what they are talking about. This book builds the case, uses both code fragments and clear diagrams with plenty of explanations.

The final section is titled, Software Vulnerabilities in Practice, I am not convinced this is an accurate section name. Network or Web should probably be in the name, chapters include Network Protocols, Firewalls ( probably the weakest chapter in the book), Network Application Protocols, Web Applications and Web Technologies.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa04280a8) out of 5 stars Comprehensive and practical... Jan. 10 2007
By Thomas Duff - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Art of Software Security Assessment: Identifying and Preventing Software Vulnerabilities by Mark Dowd, John McDonald, and Justin Schuh is a comprehensive treatment of how to study and assess the security of your software and operating system platforms. If you are at all responsible for the security of software in your organization (and that includes all the developers, too), then this is a book that should be resident on your shelf.


Part 1 - Introduction to Software Security Assessment: Software Vulnerability Fundamentals; Design Review; Operational Review; Application Review Process

Part 2 - Software Vulnerabilities: Memory Corruption; C Language Issues; Program Building Blocks; Strings and Metacharacters; Unix 1 - Privileges and Files; Unix 2 - Processes; Windows 1 - Objects and the File System; Windows 2 - Interprocess Communications; Synchronization and State

Part 3 - Software Vulnerabilities in Practice: Network Protocols; Firewalls; Network Application Protocols; Web Applications; Web Technologies

Bibliography; Index

Rather than just dive right in to detailed hacks, the authors take a measured, structured approach to assessing the security of software. The first part of the book covers the general process of reviewing for security, including design security, operational security, and application security. They also present the general areas of potential weaknesses that you need to look for in each development stage. Instead of just saying "look for bugs", they present different approaches to reviews that each have their strengths and weaknesses. You come away from Part 1 with a practical methodology that you can use immediately to consistently review all parts of your development process. Parts 2 and 3 are a bit more like other security books you've possibly seen, but much more emphasis is placed on understanding the "why" behind the problem rather than just the "how" of fixing it. Armed with this deeper understanding of why certain techniques are lacking, it's easier to change fundamental coding habits rather than just fixing problems as they're discovered in testing (or unfortunately in production). Many of the examples are in C/C++, so if that's your language of choice you'll get a lot more out of the book than others. Still, a competent developer should be able to follow the concepts regardless of their language of choice. And it really doesn't matter if you're just Unix or just Windows. Both sides are covered...

This is definitely not a small book (close to 1200 pages), but it's not padded or fluffed out to get there. It delivers real value for your money...