Firestarter: Where to start?

It’s long past the day we need to convince you that cloud and DevOps is a thing. We all know it’s happening, but one of the biggest questions we get is “Where do I start?” In this episode we scratch the surface of how to start approaching the problem when you don’t get to join a hot unicorn startup and build everything from scratch with an infinite budget behind you. Watch or listen: Share:

Read Post

Understanding and Selecting RASP: Integration

This post will offer examples for how to integrate RASP into a development pipeline. We’ll cover both how RASP fits into the technology stack, and development processes used to deliver applications. We will close this post with a detailed discussion of how RASP differs from other security technologies, and discuss advantages and tradeoffs compared to other security technologies. As we mentioned in our introduction, our research into DevOps produced many questions on how RASP worked, and whether it is an effective security technology. The questions came from non-traditional buyers of security products: application developers and product managers. Their teams, by and large, were running Agile development processes. The majority were leveraging automation to provide Continuous Integration – essentially rebuilding and retesting the application repeatedly and automatically as new code was checked in. Some had gone as far as Continuous Deployment (CD) and DevOps. To address this development-centric perspective, we offer the diagram below to illustrate a modern Continuous Deployment / DevOps application build environment. Consider each arrow a script automating some portion of source code control, building, packaging, testing, or deployment of an application. Security tools that fit this model are actively being sought by development teams. They need granular API access to functions, quick production of test results, and delivery of status back to supporting services. Application Integration Installation: As we mentioned back in the technology overview, RASP products differ in how they embed within applications. They all offer APIs to script configuration and runtime policies, but how and where they fit in differ slightly between products. Servlet filters, plugins, and library replacement are performed as the application stack is assembled. These approaches augment an application or application ‘stack’ to perform detection and blocking. Virtualization and JVM replacement approaches augment run-time environments, modifying the subsystems that run your application modified to handle monitoring and detection. In all cases these, be it on-premise or as a cloud service, the process of installing RASP is pretty much identical to the build or deployment sequence you currently use. Rules & Policies: We found the majority of RASP offerings include canned rules to detect or block most known attacks. Typically this blacklist of attack profiles maps closely to the OWASP Top Ten application vulnerability classes. Protection against common variants of standard attacks, such as SQL injection and session mis-management, is included. Once these rules are installed they are immediately enforced. You can enable or disable individual rules as you see fit. Some vendors offer specific packages for critical attacks, mapped to specific CVEs such as Heartbleed. Bundles for specific threats, rather than by generic attack classes, help security and risk teams demonstrate policy compliance, and make it easier to understand which threats have been addressed. But when shopping for RASP technologies you need to evaluate the provided rules carefully. There are many ways to attack a site with SQL injection, and many to detect and block such attacks, so you need to verify the included rules cover most of the known attack variants you are concerned with. You will also want to verify that you can augment or add rules as you see fit – rule management is a challenge for most security products, and RASP is no different. Learning the application: Not all RASP technologies can learn how an application behaves, or offer whitelisting of application behaviors. Those that do vary greatly in how they function. Some behave like their WAF cousins, and need time to learn each application – whether by watching normal traffic over time, or by generating their own traffic to ‘crawl’ each application in a non-production environment. Some function similarly to white-box scanners, using application source to learn. Coverage capabilities: During our research we found uneven RASP coverage of common platforms. Some started with Java or .Net, and are iterating to cover Python, Ruby, Node.js, and others. Your search for RASP technologies may be strongly influenced by available platform support. We find that more and more, applications are built as collections of microservices across distributed architectures. Application developers mix and match languages, choosing what works best in different scenarios. If your application is built on Java you’ll have no trouble finding RASP technology to meet your needs. But for mixed environments you will need to carefully evaluate each product’s platform coverage. Development Process Integration Software development teams leverage many different tools to promote security within their overarching application development and delivery processes. The graphic below illustrates the major phases teams go through. The callouts map the common types of security tests at specific phases within an Agile, CI, and DevOps frameworks. Keep in mind that it is still early days for automated deployment and DevOps. Many security tools were built before rapid and automated deployment existed or were well known. Older products are typically too slow, some cannot focus their tests on new code, and others do not offer API support. So orchestration of security tools – basically what works where – is far from settled territory. The time each type of test takes to run, and the type of result it returns, drives where it fits best into the phases below. RASP is designed to be bundled into applications, so it is part of the application delivery process. RASP offers two distinct approaches to help tackle application security. The first is in the pre-release or pre-deployment phase, while the second is in production. Either way, deployment looks very similar. But usage can vary considerably depending on which is chosen. Pre-release testing: This is exactly what it sounds like: RASP is used when the application is fully constructed and going through final tests prior to being launched. Here RASP can be deployed in several ways. It can be deployed to monitor only, using application tests and instrumenting runtime behavior to learn how to protect the application. Alternatively RASP can monitor while security tests are invoked in an attempt to break the application, with RASP performing security analysis and transmitting its results. Development and Testing teams can learn whether

Read Post

Totally Transparent Research is the embodiment of how we work at Securosis. It’s our core operating philosophy, our research policy, and a specific process. We initially developed it to help maintain objectivity while producing licensed research, but its benefits extend to all aspects of our business.

Going beyond Open Source Research, and a far cry from the traditional syndicated research model, we think it’s the best way to produce independent, objective, quality research.

Here’s how it works:

  • Content is developed ‘live’ on the blog. Primary research is generally released in pieces, as a series of posts, so we can digest and integrate feedback, making the end results much stronger than traditional “ivory tower” research.
  • Comments are enabled for posts. All comments are kept except for spam, personal insults of a clearly inflammatory nature, and completely off-topic content that distracts from the discussion. We welcome comments critical of the work, even if somewhat insulting to the authors. Really.
  • Anyone can comment, and no registration is required. Vendors or consultants with a relevant product or offering must properly identify themselves. While their comments won’t be deleted, the writer/moderator will “call out”, identify, and possibly ridicule vendors who fail to do so.
  • Vendors considering licensing the content are welcome to provide feedback, but it must be posted in the comments - just like everyone else. There is no back channel influence on the research findings or posts.
    Analysts must reply to comments and defend the research position, or agree to modify the content.
  • At the end of the post series, the analyst compiles the posts into a paper, presentation, or other delivery vehicle. Public comments/input factors into the research, where appropriate.
  • If the research is distributed as a paper, significant commenters/contributors are acknowledged in the opening of the report. If they did not post their real names, handles used for comments are listed. Commenters do not retain any rights to the report, but their contributions will be recognized.
  • All primary research will be released under a Creative Commons license. The current license is Non-Commercial, Attribution. The analyst, at their discretion, may add a Derivative Works or Share Alike condition.
  • Securosis primary research does not discuss specific vendors or specific products/offerings, unless used to provide context, contrast or to make a point (which is very very rare).
    Although quotes from published primary research (and published primary research only) may be used in press releases, said quotes may never mention a specific vendor, even if the vendor is mentioned in the source report. Securosis must approve any quote to appear in any vendor marketing collateral.
  • Final primary research will be posted on the blog with open comments.
  • Research will be updated periodically to reflect market realities, based on the discretion of the primary analyst. Updated research will be dated and given a version number.
    For research that cannot be developed using this model, such as complex principles or models that are unsuited for a series of blog posts, the content will be chunked up and posted at or before release of the paper to solicit public feedback, and provide an open venue for comments and criticisms.
  • In rare cases Securosis may write papers outside of the primary research agenda, but only if the end result can be non-biased and valuable to the user community to supplement industry-wide efforts or advances. A “Radically Transparent Research” process will be followed in developing these papers, where absolutely all materials are public at all stages of development, including communications (email, call notes).
    Only the free primary research released on our site can be licensed. We will not accept licensing fees on research we charge users to access.
  • All licensed research will be clearly labeled with the licensees. No licensed research will be released without indicating the sources of licensing fees. Again, there will be no back channel influence. We’re open and transparent about our revenue sources.

In essence, we develop all of our research out in the open, and not only seek public comments, but keep those comments indefinitely as a record of the research creation process. If you believe we are biased or not doing our homework, you can call us out on it and it will be there in the record. Our philosophy involves cracking open the research process, and using our readers to eliminate bias and enhance the quality of the work.

On the back end, here’s how we handle this approach with licensees:

  • Licensees may propose paper topics. The topic may be accepted if it is consistent with the Securosis research agenda and goals, but only if it can be covered without bias and will be valuable to the end user community.
  • Analysts produce research according to their own research agendas, and may offer licensing under the same objectivity requirements.
  • The potential licensee will be provided an outline of our research positions and the potential research product so they can determine if it is likely to meet their objectives.
  • Once the licensee agrees, development of the primary research content begins, following the Totally Transparent Research process as outlined above. At this point, there is no money exchanged.
  • Upon completion of the paper, the licensee will receive a release candidate to determine whether the final result still meets their needs.
  • If the content does not meet their needs, the licensee is not required to pay, and the research will be released without licensing or with alternate licensees.
  • Licensees may host and reuse the content for the length of the license (typically one year). This includes placing the content behind a registration process, posting on white paper networks, or translation into other languages. The research will always be hosted at Securosis for free without registration.

Here is the language we currently place in our research project agreements:

Content will be created independently of LICENSEE with no obligations for payment. Once content is complete, LICENSEE will have a 3 day review period to determine if the content meets corporate objectives. If the content is unsuitable, LICENSEE will not be obligated for any payment and Securosis is free to distribute the whitepaper without branding or with alternate licensees, and will not complete any associated webcasts for the declining LICENSEE. Content licensing, webcasts and payment are contingent on the content being acceptable to LICENSEE. This maintains objectivity while limiting the risk to LICENSEE. Securosis maintains all rights to the content and to include Securosis branding in addition to any licensee branding.

Even this process itself is open to criticism. If you have questions or comments, you can email us or comment on the blog.