[Owasp-board] OWASP & Industry Vendors - Discussion

Justin Derry JDerry at b-sec.com
Fri Aug 24 23:00:35 UTC 2007

I don't mind going on record. However i also don't want to be perceived as a guy hitting people over the head. Basically i believe in OWASP and I believe in the intent the Taiwan chapter guy has. However i also believe that this is one of those examples where a vendor is using OWASP to deliberately wipe out the competition he has and use OWASP as a springboard for himself and his company.
(By the way my i don't know if my customer source will go on record - it was a friendly personal phone call) but i am sure the email i have would be ok.)
Too many people put too much effort into OWASP and i hate when i see misuse of OWASP. As everyone knows i have long sat in the background of OWASP for many years since 2001 and only since late 2005 have i actively got involved and will continue to push forward like many others. However my biggest fear with OWASP is self implosion. What i mean by this if we have guys running around claiming that OWASP only supports certain vendors etc then sooner rather then later OWASP will die out simply because no one will trust it as an independant and authoritive source of application security.
I don't think making an example of the Taiwan guy will work, but i do think we need to stop it, and i also think we need to seriously look at the rules of vendors out there sponsorsing and getting involved in OWASP. 
With Taiwan i am a little supprised that he has taken it to an extent of registering domains etc. I was offered to speak at this conference and advised i couldn't and put forward Brian Chess (Fortify) (this was at a time when i didn't know wayne was from Amorize) and i happen to know brian and also knew he was already going to be in taiwan around the time and i received a simple email saying we wouldn't invite him as he is a competitior. (I'll send you the email if you don't already have it).
The things i like about Wayne (Taiwan) is he is keen, pulls the numbers and overall i think is a nice guy. However i also think there is a small hidden agenda that he has to use OWASP to further Amorize. Don't have a problem with vendors using OWASP as an Industry standard, hey thats what it's there for within reason, but it needs to be done in a controlled, managed, neutral and appropriate manner.
I have always said that i am willing to take on a more supporting role in OWASP (with Asia or whatever) and now due to my role within our consuting firm, i have also tasked every other consultant in my team (8 of them) with minimum 4 hours a week on OWASP related activities. (i.e Malathi is going to help AJV with the V3 guide etc). But i don't want to see other people abuse the system, and it seems to mainly be some vendors?
Maybe we look at drawing up some guidelines for Vendors that are very specific.? Maybe also we work on some guidelines and rules for any type of mini or large conference that may involve vendors. Lets be realistic i don't think we are going to get rid of vendors, they have the $$ and help with the project, however having some guidelines would be good. (The chapter rules are pretty basic).. Also maybe some way to enforce them? and a clause if you breach the guidelines you are immediately removed as a corporate member? I don't know that's all a quick brain dump.
Anyhow Super keen to help out wherever anyone wants.. If i am completely out of turn than someone throw a brick at me.


From: Dinis Cruz [mailto:dinis at ddplus.net]
Sent: Fri 8/24/2007 10:46 PM
To: Justin Derry
Cc: OWASP Board; Jeff Williams; Dave Wichers; Daniel Cuthbert; mark at curphey.com
Subject: Re: OWASP & Industry Vendors - Discussion


You are raising very important (if not critical) issues here which I want to fully clarify and sort out. 

I will reply in detail to your email, but before I do just one question: "How much of this are you willing to go 'on the record', that is put your name to it?". It doesn't mean that we will post all this to everybody in OWASP but (for example) I want to clarify with the Taiwan chapter leader these issues, and it will be easier if I can directly quote you (and others (if you know other people who share your feelings please put them in touch)) 

My objective is to turn this into a positive event, with lessons learned for all parties involved (assuming of course that we are able to amicably solve the current 'brand abuse' issues)

Dinis Cruz 
Chief OWASP Evangelist
http://www.owasp.org <http://www.owasp.org/>   

On 8/23/07, Justin Derry <JDerry at b-sec.com> wrote: 


	Firstly i think i have meet everyone on the CC/To list and there is a good reason why this email has not been forwarded to the owasp-leaders at owasp.org mailing list. 

	Anyhow as most of you know i have been involved in owasp (lately more due to availability and effort during business hours) but are currently trying to setup some conferences in Asia etc.


	The reason for this selective email is simply due to the fact that it reflects directly on some of the people on the owasp-leaders list.


	Recently A chapter leader approached OWASP in regards to converting his 350+ people conference to an OWASP Asia Pacific Conference 2007, he is currently running it as a "Taiwan Chapter" conference.

	I spent some time with the person discussing some of the common goals of a conference and ensure that the appropriate messages (i.e vendor independence etc) being careful of how to approach these things.

	He agreed and has forwarded to Dave Wichers etc for approval in which he got. He proceeded with 48 hours of that to approach a Customer in Taiwan and immediately tell them Amorize is the only sponsor of the OWASP 2007 Asia Pacific conference and OWASP fully supports and backs Amorize. Which is obviously so far from the truth it's not funny. (They don't even sponsor OWASP Corporately)

	This statement came from two different sources about the OWASP and Amorize (not vendors but customer sources).


	Anyhow the reason for the email is, this is a big problem. We all work for companies that typically have an invested interest in the Application Security space, but i think by most everyone plays by the rules. Obviously there are people that don't and are abusing the OWASP name and using the hard work of Mark, Andrew, Dave and everyone else. Recently as a company we invested in OWASP and are also as most of you aware investing business hours and effort in increasing the OWASP project because i believe in it. The collective thinking is powerful and i believe the people involved are excellent. However we currently i believe have a serious problem with a selective few people abusing the system.


	I agree with Mark C's comments in regards to the direction and the comments about financial sides of OWASP and the approach that OWASP should take moving forward. However i think we need to seriously address the misuse immediately of the OWASP brand and approach some chapters etc are taking. This can be achieved reasonably easily i think by completing a few tasks. Some of which i have included below.


	Why doesn't OWASP consider (if we have the $$) employing a administrative person to simply monitor the activity of OWASP chapters follow up on presentations etc. This would be perfect as if each chapter leader new that they would be asked for their presentation notes to be published online, if there was anything inappropriate this would hopefully reduce. (or maybe approval prior??). Yes there is alot of chapters but with a single person review and posting presentations i think overall someone would have an idea on what was being presented. Also would mean we would have a great collection point? Surely this wouldn't cost that much? An admin person here in OZ is only around 30,000 USD a year?


	Secondly vendor involvement. I like it, and i think OWASP needs it for the future, however there should be some hard and fast rules about it. I.e (maybe no chapter leads from vendors?? Too much temptation). Maybe we set some strict guidelines about how they can get involved, ie. At conferences etc. Maybe we allow them to place sponsorship on the web site only and provide a facility. ?? Most chapter leads i believe are good but i haven't been too many. I do look through the wiki and see alot of "vendor" names poping up. Not a lot of consulting firms but lots of vendor names..


	Conferences, As you know i am trying to work on a Big OWASP Asia conference. I see the rules being Vendors (all of them) get an invite, allowed to provide a booth, and if the numbers allow it maybe a separate speaking stream where they can present. Thats all still thought process, but using the vendor money to increase awareness is actually quite good.


	I don't know if this email is going down to one? Maybe these are just my feelings, but for a person willing to put alot of effort into the OWASP cause i am horrified to hear about this instance in Taiwan. This is backed up by the fact he has even written in an email to me that he doesn't want to invite any vendors and is happy for his company to pay for the lot. Really i don't think this is the way to approach it, simply as he is using the conference purely as a springboard for his new company. The other problem with this, is how do the other vendors who put in $$$$ to support owasp and they have another company not even supporting OWASP doing this. I am sure that they wouldn't be happy as were is their money going.


	So i suppose in summary why not look at an administrative person to oversee presentations etc, and we set some specific guidelines (more detailed) then the chapter rules for each chapter. We also place a wide advice to all vendors advising them of our position and maybe even ask them to put up money if they wish to continue referencing the OWASP guides etc. They are all getting valuable effort without any $$ or input. I even saw a vendor at Blackhat this year using and promoting the OWASP WebGoat tool to promote their own tools. This was insane?


	Anyhow hopefully my rant hasn't been received poorly, sounds like a few people are making some interesting comments in the past 24 hours, and hopefully this all goes into a bucket to better OWASP?

	If not then please kill me now.. J


	BTW Dave W you probably get the feeling i am recommending that we don't allow Taiwan to run their conference as the OWASP ASIA conference and further probably not as a conference at all. There is alot of material on the WIKI about his conference.


	Anyhow thanks for reading that big email guys...




	Justin Derry

	Application Security

	Practice Leader

	b-sec Consulting

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