It’s not opinion, Richard

For the second time, I helped SANS compile their Top 20. I don’t know about the other sections, C1 is primarily my section. As always, there will be knockers. However, I was a bit surprised about one contrarian, the normally interesting and challenging Richard Bejtlich. Richard writes:


As far as the nature of the list goes, it’s important to realize that it’s based on a bunch of people’s opinions.

Actually, no. My section is based upon hard core data from MITRE, as will the forthcoming OWASP Top 10.

MITRE web app sec data

The only entry which I forced into SANS Top 20 is CSRF because it’s REALLY important to fix over the next 12 months. We only get so many chances to speak to this particular audience and CSRF deserves attention. The OWASP Top 10 also has CSRF. Remote File include, which affects PHP more than most, is EXTREMELY heavily attacked. It’s actually the primary attack vector for PHP stacks. It belongs in the list. My mum can discover XSS – it belongs in there. SQL injection can be found via automated means and this is the worst bit – we have methods to utterly avoid it – if only devs would stop using vulnerable API! rdbms_query() should simply not be supported in future PHP releases. And ditto for other languages and frameworks.

Worse still, Richard misses the forest completely when he says that “… it’s called an ‘attack targets’ document, since there’s nothing inherently ‘vulnerable’ about …”. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a weakness, action item, vulnerability or attack. If it’s something you should know about, it belongs in there. Like phishing, like webappsec, and so on. Don’t play semantics when people are at risk. That’s the job of cigarette and oil companies.

It’s basically impossible to find out how much certain types of attacks net criminals, or how much pain identity theft victims suffer, or how much a life is worth when an attack takes out vulnerable biomedical equipment. I’d rather have my blog spammed by hundreds of scripts than one single skilled and motivated attacker take over the host this blog resides on due to security defects in WP. A simple numerical attack number is useless. A simple $$$ figure is going to be wrong and misleading. It’s impossible to *rate* attacks.

We must do it via vulnerabilities discovered, and I’ve done that.

So for us, MITRE data is as good as it’s going to get, and I’ve used that for the top 4, plus one item which is going to be the major form of weakness/vulnerability/attack as folks work out how horrible it is to use CSRF resistant software, and it’s going to get worse when Ajax enabled apps do *everything* via XHR, rather than just a subset of their functionality.

Rohit did a great job herding many, many cats. I really wanted 10 things in there for developers to check and do as web app sec vulnerabilities are now the Top 11 or so attacks. But SANS is a system administration resource, and thus they turned the focus around for system administrators. Fair enough. That’s why we have links to OWASP for those folks who need it.

For Richard to state that the SANS document is my opinion, I don’t think so. I concentrated heavily on fact. In other related news, the OWASP Top 10 is nearing that happy point when it will need peer reviewing. If you’re interested, come join the Top 10 mail list at OWASP.

ps. that graph above although it is the MITRE data does not indicate the Top 10 headings. We’ve got something special for you all! 🙂

Published by vanderaj

Just another security geek

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