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Displaying articles for: December 2007

Ajax Security Book is published with strong buzz and reviews

Our Ajax Security book from Addison Wesley has been published! By now I'm sure everyone is tried of me talking about the book and its merits, so let's see what some of experts in the web security space are saying about it:

Andrew van der Stock The Executive Director of OWASP reviewed a draft of Ajax Security and here is what he had to say about it:

If you are writing or reviewing Ajax code, you need this book. Billy and Bryan have done a stellar job in a nascent area of our field, and deserves success. Go buy this book.

Is it just a re-hash of old presentations? No. The book breaks some new ground, and fills in a lot of the blanks in all of our presentations and demos. I hadn’t heard of some of these attacks in book form before. The examples improved my knowledge of DOM and other injections considerably, so there’s something there for the advanced folks as well as the newbies.

I
really liked the easy, laid back writing style. Billy and Bryan’s text
is straightforward and easy to understand. They get across the concepts
in a relatively new area of our field.

The structure flows pretty well, building upon what you’ve already learnt ... there is advanced stuff, but the authors have to bring the newbie audience along for the ride.

Billy and Bryan spend a bit of time repeating the old hoary “no new attacks in Ajax” meme
which is big with the popular kids (mainly because their products can’t
detect or scan Ajax code yet and still want money from you), and then
spend the rest of the book debunking their own propaganda with a
wonderful panache that beats the meme into a bloody pulp and buries it for all time.

Web security guru dre offers up this review of Ajax Security:

It’s quite possible that many Star Wars Ajax security fans will be calling Billy Hoffman, the great “Obi-Wan”, and pdp “Lord Vader” to represent the “light” and “dark” sides that is The Force behind the power wielded by Ajax.

The book, Ajax Security, covered a lot of new material that hadn’t been seen or talked about in the press or the security industry. The authors introduced Ajax security topics with ease and provided greater understanding of how to view Javascript malware, tricks, and the aberrant Javascript worms from a security perspective.

Here
are some of the “new” concepts that I enjoyed most Hijacking Ajax apps,
Attacking Offline Ajax apps, Ajax proxy exposure of third-party
XML/JSON data.

I really enjoyed the suggested defenses against
“mashup” attacks as well as JSON API Hijacking. Without going into
detail (I don’t want to ruin the book and the authors’ hard work), I can say that the explanations are not only better than mine — but that the imagination and creativity for optimal solutions were clearly first and foremost in the authors’ intentions. This is really where their good intentions shined.

The
authors also did a great job ... exposing all of the intricacies of
Ajax, HTTP, HTML, and XHR abuse issues. They showed that with great
power comes great responsibility. The level of attack capability that
HTTP/XHR can muster is scary indeed.

You definitely don’t want to miss out on what they have to say about attacking ! There hasn’t been a lot of research that I’ve seen, and some of the attacks seem incredibly daunting.

Here
comes the best part! I know that a lot of you are curious if the book
covers Samy. Of course it does! The book also covers the less exciting
but discussion-relevant Yammaner worm. I was very excited to read this
chapter, but also afraid of some of the “dark side” prescriptions it
gave.

I haven't seen it in physical stores yet, but
people who order from Amazon or directly from Addison Wesley have
received their copies only a few days after ordering. I cannot express
how happy I am that the book is getting such good attention. It's just
more proof of Ajax Security Acceptance in the industry.

Another analysis of Larry Suto's comparative review

IBM/Watchfire released their analysis of Larry Suto's web scanner comparative review, which was released in October.  If you recall, we wrote one as well.  IBM/Watchfire questioned Suto's methodology just like we did; they also found discrepancies between their own testing and the scan files Suto provided them (yes, that's right--Suto's reported results apparently don't match Suto's own scan files).  Interesting is their discussion on how vulnerabilities are counted (issues vs. instances), and their knowledge of how NTOSpider apparently counts its findings (it counts instances), causing a higher/inflated vulnerability finding count.

Overall, Suto's analysis illustrates an important concept: testing and product comparisons are not trivial to perform.  You need a sound methodology, and you need to make sure your numbers and math make sense.

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