Web 2.0 Security

A good article at the moment on SecurityFocus on “Vulnerability Scanning Web 2.0 Client-Side Components.” While Web 2.0 applications offer the ability to create very rich client interfaces, it’s a bit of a step backwards for security because so much more of the processing is coming back onto the client-side. This does not need to be a problem so long as the old maxim of “never trust anything submitted from the client to the server” remains true,but from what I’ve seen so far, all of the old errors are still very much in evidence and making a strong come-back!


There’s a good reason for this – AJAX, made up of JavaScript and XML is not a new technology. Web 2.0 is really an amalgamation of old tech with a new shiney coat. It’s sort of like dressing up your pet dog in Prada sunglasses and a Burberry blouse. It might look very stylish, but without proper training it’ll still make a mess on the carpet and still go “woof.” When you execute an AJAX application it is simply a series of JavaScript instructions to the web browser. There’s some more information and links about this on Richard MacManus’ Blog on ZDNet and a more pointed reference to the “top 10” Web 2.0 attack vectors here.

I did spend a while trying to find some evidence of real-world Web 2.0 attacks that have actually resulted in some loss to the organisations concerned. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence which doesn’t really convince me however, read the attack vector list: code injection, cross site scripting, malicious code execution: spot anything new yet?

So, that’s the problem, what’s the solution? As always it comes down to process – in particular training and awareness: not just amongst the development teams but across each of the different stakeholder groups. You might also want to take a look at available OWASP resources, particularly the AJAX Security Project. I make no apologies for repeatedly plugging OWASP – it’s the best resource by far.

Have a good weekend.

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