[Owasp-leaders] Instead of OWASP libraries, why don't we ...

Kevin W. Wall kevin.w.wall at gmail.com
Sat Nov 21 19:27:09 UTC 2015

On Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 10:00 PM, Jim Manico <jim.manico at owasp.org> wrote:
> On Nov 20, 2015, at 4:10 PM, Tim Morgan <tim.morgan at owasp.org> wrote:
>> Does this resonate with anyone?
> Spot on. It's hard work and takes a lot of selfless dedication.

Agree with that. Writing good general security class libraries / APIs
that developers
find easy to use in widely different contexts that you can't completely
foresee is extremely difficult. It requires both significant development and
security experience relatively few have.

> I feel OWASP should consider spending some of it's funds to hire developers
> to be dedicated to some of these tasks. Or offer bounties for specific
> platform security tasks. I think that would accelerate this kind of
> activity, significantly....
> Auto-escaping templates, CSP integration, solid ABAC implementations,
> default secure headers, solid integrated password storage, etc etc all by
> default all integrated into common development platforms.
> I think this would be an awesome way to serve the mission. Anyone agree?

This idea sounds good in practice, but there already are many good security
libraries (e.g, Spring Security, Apache Shiro, Struts validation, etc.)
that are available to the development community but that most of the
development community just fails to use. A great example of this failure
that I've run across time and time again are applications that are already
using Spring 3.2 that could enable Spring Security's CSRF protection in one
additional line of their Spring config file (typically applicationContext.xml):
     <csrf />
between the <http>...</http> tags. (In Spring 4.x, CSRF protection is enabled
by default.) Sure, like most things, it's not perfect, but is
generally good enough
to effectively mitigate these attacks. Yet, I seldom see this used. Even more
strangely, when I do see CSRF protection mechanisms used via Spring 3.2,
they more often than not are home-grown solutions.

I could say the same thing for Struts validation. I very seldom see it used.

So rather than trying to construct what we, as the security community, might
think are better libraries or better approaches, I think we need to take a step
back and research why the currently security libraries are not used more

I do agree with Tim that a large part of the reason is that we don't see
developers writing secure code is largely due to a copy-&-paste mentality
to code. Developers google for something like "how do I do <x>?" and
the first few links pop up something from Stack Exchange or W3Schools
and the copy the first working example that they see and don't bother
searching for a secure solution. Certainly a large part of this can be
blamed on an unawareness on developer's parts that what they are
copying are insecure. So I don't really know how to combat that. Maybe
rather than OWASP funding developers to work on security libraries, we
should hire security conscious developers to patrol development forums,
newsgroups, etc. and correct posts where examples are given that have
security vulnerabilities.

Blog: http://off-the-wall-security.blogspot.com/
NSA: All your crypto bit are belong to us.

More information about the OWASP-Leaders mailing list