Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Adrian Bridgwater, SmartBear Blog, Aruna Ravichandran, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Java IoT, Cloud Security

Java IoT: Article

Java Application Security in the Corporate World

Java security isn't a skill of Java architects

The vast majority of corporate developers truly believe that application security is not their concern, assuming that network and engineering groups will build their environment in a secure way. But what about application security? Are you ready for the code audit?

Application Security Isn't Getting the Attention It Deserves
When most people in the corporate world talk about "security," they mean the security of the network, operating system, and servers. Organizations that want to protect their systems against hacker attacks invest a lot of time, effort, and money ensuring that these three components are secure. Without this secure foundation, systems cannot operate securely.

However, even if the network, server, and operating system are 100% secure, vulnerabilities in the application itself make a system just as prone to dangerous attacks as unprotected networks, operating systems, and servers would. In fact, if an application has security vulnerabilities, it can allow an attacker to access privileged data, delete critical data, and even break into the system and operate at the same priority level as the application, which is essentially giving the attacker the power to destroy the entire system. Consequently, the security of the application is even more important than the security of the system on which it's running. Building an insecure application on top of a secure network, OS, and server is akin to building an elaborate fortress, but leaving the main entryway wide open and unguarded.

There is a simple explanation to why this happens: tight project deadlines and unawareness of potential consequences. Project managers believe that answering that annoying review of the corporate security group takes care of everything. Not every project is reviewed by experienced enterprise architects, and even if it is, Java security is not one of the major skills of Java architects.

Most Developers Don't Know How To Write Secure Code
Most developers have no idea what writing secure code involves. Most have never thought about writing secure code - probably in response to the corporate world virtually ignoring application security, and very few have ever had to try writing secure code. Some developers have heard that buffer overflows and SQL injections can cause security problems, but that's about the extent of most developers' security knowledge.

When developers are asked to make applications secure, they start trying to find security bugs in the application - after it's been built. For example, they might look for dangerous method calls and remove them, using an application vulnerability scanner, or using a security mechanism such as mod_security or an application firewall to prevent exploitation. However, this bug-finding strategy isn't sufficient to meet today's complex security requirements, such as those mandated by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act . Testing problems out of the application is both inefficient and largely ineffective. Independent, end-of-process bug finding alone can't and on't expose all possible security vulnerabilities.

With penetration testing, which involves trying to mimic an attacker's actions and checking if any tested scenarios result in security breaches, security vulnerabilities will go unnoticed unless the tester has the skill and luck to design the precise attack scenarios required to expose them. Considering that there are thousands, if not millions, of possible scenarios for even a basic application, odds are some vulnerabilities will be overlooked. However, it takes only one security vulnerability to compromise the security of an application and its related systems - opening the door to attacks, as well as fines for not complying with security mandates.

Furthermore, penetration testing can fail to catch the most dangerous types of problems. Let's assume that you have a Web application to test, and this application has a backdoor that gives admin privileges to anyone who knows to supply a secret argument, like h4x0rzRgr8 = true. A typical penetration test against a Web application uses known exploits and sends modified requests to exploit common coding problems. It would take years for this test to find this kind of vulnerability through penetration testing. Even an expert security analyst would have a tough time trying to exploit this. What about a difficult-to-reach section of code in the error-handling routine that performs an unsafe database query? Or the lack of an effective audit trail for monitoring security functions? These kinds of problems are often entirely overlooked by even a diligent penetration test.

Other popular end-of-process security testing techniques - such as using static analysis to check whether code follows a standard set of security rules such as "Do not use java.util.Random" or "Use java.security.SecureRandom" - might expose some of the vulnerabilities that penetration testing overlooks, but come with their own share of problems. For instance, consider some of the weaknesses of trying to identify security vulnerabilities through static analysis. One is that these patterns don't consider the nuances of actual operation; they don't factor in business rules, or general security principles. If you have a Web application that lets your customer see their competitor's account by adding one to the session ID, this is a very serious problem. However, this kind of problem escapes static analysis because it doesn't involve a dangerous function call. Security assessment, in this sense, isn't always a bug to find, but a design problem to verify. Another problem is false positives. Static analysis can't actually exploit vulnerabilities; it can only report potential problems. Consequently, the developer or tester must review every reported error and then determine if it indicates a true problem, or a false positive. Sophisticated static analysis methods can improve accuracy, but ultimately, a significant amount of time and resources must be spent reviewing and investigating reported problems and determining which actually need to be corrected.

Complying with Sarbanes-Oxley
To comply with Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), public companies need to effectively define and verify security policies for their financial and record-keeping applications.

Public companies are now required by SOX to implement and verify effective security for their financial and record-keeping applications. To comply with this requirement, it's necessary to establish an effective application security policy and verify that the policy is actually implemented in the code and reflected in the system functionality. By security policy we mean a document that defines best practice secure coding standards, secure application design rules, security testing benchmarks, privacy requirements, as well as custom security requirements.

According to SOX, having a security policy has evolved from a "nice-to-have" feature to an essential business requirement. Companies that don't establish and implement effective security policies could now be found to be negligent and face significant fines for failing to comply with SOX. A lot of developers and managers still treat security like they treat quality - they try to get as much quality/security as they can to the best of their knowledge, but often settle short of complete quality/security. However, systems that aren't 100% secure aren't acceptable under SOX. If development managers don't recognize this, they could cause their companies tremendous liabilities.

Defining a security policy doesn't satisfy SOX requirements; the specification items defined in the policy must actually be implemented in the code. In other words, the specification must truly be seen as requirements - not as suggestions or guidelines, as is typically the case with functionality specifications. The specifications defined in the security policy must be implemented…no ifs, ands, or buts. If your corporate information group doesn't have resources to enforce this, your architecture group may have to take this responsibility.

What's required to ensure that the security policy is implemented in the code? First, code should be statically analyzed to enforce the organization's security policy on the client and server sides. Static analysis typically looks for potentially dangerous function call patterns and tries to infer if they represent security vulnerabilities (for instance, to determine if code has unvalidated inputs, and if unvalidated inputs are passed to specific functions that can be vulnerable to attack).

Next, thorough automated penetration testing should be done to confirm that the security policy has been implemented correctly and operates properly. In addition, security should be verified through unit testing, runtime error detection, and SQL monitoring.

More Stories By Adam Kolawa

Adam Kolawa is the co-founder and CEO of Parasoft, leading provider of solutions and services that deliver quality as a continuous process throughout the SDLC. In 1983, he came to the United States from Poland to pursue his PhD. In 1987, he and a group of fellow graduate students founded Parasoft to create value-added products that could significantly improve the software development process. Adam's years of experience with various software development processes has resulted in his unique insight into the high-tech industry and the uncanny ability to successfully identify technology trends. As a result, he has orchestrated the development of numerous successful commercial software products to meet growing industry needs to improve software quality - often before the trends have been widely accepted. Adam has been granted 10 patents for the technologies behind these innovative products.

Kolawa, co-author of Bulletproofing Web Applications (Hungry Minds 2001), has contributed to and written over 100 commentary pieces and technical articles for publications including The Wall Street Journal, Java Developer's Journal, SOA World Magazine, AJAXWorld Magazine; he has also authored numerous scientific papers on physics and parallel processing. His recent media engagements include CNN, CNBC, BBC, and NPR. Additionally he has presented on software quality, trends and development issues at various industry conferences. Kolawa holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the California Institute of Technology. In 2001, Kolawa was awarded the Los Angeles Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the software category.

More Stories By Yakov Fain

Yakov Fain is a co-founder of two software companies: Farata Systems and SuranceBay. He authored several technical books and lots of articles on software development. Yakov is Java Champion (https://java-champions.java.net). He leads leads Princeton Java Users Group. Two of Yakov's books will go in print this year: "Enterprise Web Development" (O'Reilly) and "Java For Kids" (No Starch Press).

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducted a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply wit...
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
MuleSoft has announced the findings of its 2015 Connectivity Benchmark Report on the adoption and business impact of APIs. The findings suggest traditional businesses are quickly evolving into "composable enterprises" built out of hundreds of connected software services, applications and devices. Most are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices technologies like Docker. A majority are integrating wearables, like smart watches, and more than half plan to generate revenue with APIs within the next year.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit for the EMC Federation.
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect their organization.
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, discussed IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sectors.
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
Akana has released Envision, an enhanced API analytics platform that helps enterprises mine critical insights across their digital eco-systems, understand their customers and partners and offer value-added personalized services. “In today’s digital economy, data-driven insights are proving to be a key differentiator for businesses. Understanding the data that is being tunneled through their APIs and how it can be used to optimize their business and operations is of paramount importance,” said Alistair Farquharson, CTO of Akana.
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a "Make or Buy" decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud business applications and services across multiple cloud delivery models.
The enterprise market will drive IoT device adoption over the next five years. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Greenough, an analyst at BI Intelligence, division of Business Insider, analyzed how companies will adopt IoT products and the associated cost of adopting those products. John Greenough is the lead analyst covering the Internet of Things for BI Intelligence- Business Insider’s paid research service. Numerous IoT companies have cited his analysis of the IoT. Prior to joining BI Intelligence, he worked analyzing bank technology for Corporate Insight and The Clearing House Payment...
"Optimal Design is a technology integration and product development firm that specializes in connecting devices to the cloud," stated Joe Wascow, Co-Founder & CMO of Optimal Design, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CommVault has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A singular vision – a belief in a better way to address current and future data management needs – guides CommVault in the development of Singular Information Management® solutions for high-performance data protection, universal availability and simplified management of data on complex storage networks. CommVault's exclusive single-platform architecture gives companies unp...
Electric Cloud and Arynga have announced a product integration partnership that will bring Continuous Delivery solutions to the automotive Internet-of-Things (IoT) market. The joint solution will help automotive manufacturers, OEMs and system integrators adopt DevOps automation and Continuous Delivery practices that reduce software build and release cycle times within the complex and specific parameters of embedded and IoT software systems.
"ciqada is a combined platform of hardware modules and server products that lets people take their existing devices or new devices and lets them be accessible over the Internet for their users," noted Geoff Engelstein of ciqada, a division of Mars International, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.