Book details of 'How to Break Web Software: Functional and Security Testing of Web Applications and Web Services'
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The Virtual Bookcase Reviews of 'How to Break Web Software: Functional and Security Testing of Web Applications and Web Services':
Reviewer Rob Slade wrote:
The preface stresses that this book is neither about how to attack a
Web site, nor how to develop one, but, rather, how to test.
Chapter one points out that the Web is a different environment, in
terms of software security, because we have desktop machines, not
centrally administered, talking to everyone (with much of the traffic
being commercial in nature). The authors even point out that issues
of error-handling, performance, and ease-of-use all contribute to
increased levels of vulnerability. Various attacks designed to obtain
information about Web applications, structure, and functions are
described in chapter two. For client-side scripting, chapter three
notes, any validation done on the client should be untrusted and re-
validated on the host, since it may be altered on the client, or data
manually entered as if it came from the client. Chapter four explains
the danger of using client-side data (cookies or code) for state
information. Chapter five examines user supplied data, and delves
into cross-site scripting (XSS, the explanation of which is not well
done), SQL (Standard Query Language) injection, and directory
traversal. Language-based attacks, in chapter six, involve buffer
overflows (which are not explained terribly well), canonicalization
(HTML and Unicode encoding and parsing), and null string attacks. The
server, with utilities and the underlying operating system, can be
reached via stored procedures (excessive functionality), fingerprinted
for other attempts, or subject to denial of service (in limited ways)
as chapter seven notes. "Authentication," in chapter eight, is really
more about encryption: the various false forms (encryption via
obscurity?), brute force attacks against verification systems, and
forcing a system to use weak encryption. Privacy, and related Web
technologies (of which cookies are only one), is reviewed in chapter
nine. Chapter ten looks at Web services, and the vulnerabilities
associated with some of these systems.
The CD-ROM included with the book contains a number of interesting and
useful tools for trying out the various attacks and tests mentioned in
This book is a valuable addition to the software security literature.
The attacks listed in the work are known, but often by name only.
This text collects and explains a wide variety of Web application
attacks and weaknesses, providing developers with a better
understanding of how their programs may be assailed. Some of the
items mentioned are defined or explained weakly, but these are usually
items that do have good coverage in other security works.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 2006
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