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Web Security Testing Cookbook: Systematic Techniques to Find Problems Fast 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0596514839
ISBN-10: 0596514832
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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Systematic Techniques to Find Problems Fast

About the Author

Paco Hope is a Technical Manager at Cigital, Inc. and co-author of Mastering FreeBSD and OpenBSD Security (April 2005, O'Reilly, ISBN 0596006268). Mr. Hope has also published articles on Misuse and Abuse Cases and PKI. He has been invited to conferences to speak on topics such as software security re-quirements, web application security, and embedded system security. At Cigi-tal, he has served as a subject matter expert to MasterCard International for security policies and has assisted a Fortune 500 hospitality company in writ-ing software security policy. He also trains software developers and testers in the fundamentals of software security. In the gaming and mobile communica-tions industries he has advised several companies on software security. Mr. Hope majored in Computer Science and English at The College of William and Mary and received an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Virginia.

Ben Walther is a consultant at Cigital and contributor to the Edit Cookies tool. He has a hand in both normal Quality Assurance and Software Security. Day to day, he designs and executes tests - and so he understands the need for simple recipes, in the hectic QA world. Yet he has also given talks on web ap-plication testing tools to members of the Open Web Application Security Pro-ject (OWASP). Through Cigital, he tests systems ranging from financial data processing to slot machines. Mr. Walther has a B.S. in Information Science from Cornell University.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 314 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (October 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596514832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596514839
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #893,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is about how web applications are tested with an emphasis on security. This book is aimed at web applications developers and testers, not security specialists. Developers who are responsible for writing unit tests for their components will appreciate the way that these tools can be focused on an individual page, feature, or form. Quality assurance professionals who must test whole web applications will be especially interested in the automation and development of test cases that can easily become parts of regression suites. The recipes in this book mainly use free tools, making them easy to try out and hopefully adopt.

The unfortunate problem with free tools in so many cases is lack documentation. This book fills that gap by showing you how to make good use of tools that you might have heard of that don't have good documentation on their application. Another barrier to effectively testing web applications with free tools is a general lack of knowledge about how the tools can be put together to perform good security tests. It's one thing to know that TamperData lets you bypass client-side checks. It's another thing to develop a good cross-site scripting test using TamperData. This book takes you beyond making good web application tests and helps you produce good security test cases.

The book divides material into three sections. The first section covers setting up tools and some of the basics concepts used to develop tests. The second section is about the different methods of bypassing client-side input validation via SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and manipulating hidden form fields. The third section is about the session, locating session identifiers, determining their predictability, and how to manipulate them.
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Format: Paperback
I just wrote five star reviews of The Web Application Hacker's Handbook (TWAHH) and SQL Injection Attacks and Defense (SIAAD). Is there really a need for another Web security book like Web Security Testing Cookbook (WSTC)? The answer is an emphatic yes. While TWAHH and SIAAD include offensive and defensive material helpful for developers, those books are more or less aimed at assessment professionals. WSTC, on the other hand, is directed squarely at Web developers. In fact, WSTC is specifically written for those who incorporate unit testing into their software development lifecycle. I believe anyone developing Web applications would benefit from reading WSTC.

I am not a Web developer, but I really enjoyed reading WSTC. The book is not very long compared to TWAHH and WSTC, but it is very clear and well-written. The test or "recipe" format is easy to read quickly, and it makes for disciplined writing on the part of the authors. I really liked the use of all open tools, in contrast with Hacking Exposed: Web 2.0 (HEW2), a competing book. WSTC is well-organized, building on previous material in a coherent manner suitable for those with less experience in unit testing for Web apps.

I'd like to give special praise to chapter 4, Web-Oriented Data Encoding. As a Network Security Monitoring practitioner, I often encounter Web traffic encoded using the very methods described in chapter 4. This section helped me understand what I see, so I recommend it to those who aren't Web developers but who do need to understand Web traffic on the wire. I felt the same way about chapter 7, which explains the intricacies of using cURL.

I have no complaints regarding WSTC. I think it defines a powerful methodology for approaching Web security, and other authors might want to consider emulating its approach. Great work!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of those few books on my bookshelf that I find myself returning to time and time again. My copy is marked, annotated, labeled, etc. so on and so forth. It is indispensable if you work in the industry and IMHO outshines the much larger tome "The Web Application Hackers Handbook". Of particular importance to Web Engineers is also Appendix E found in the book "Sockets, Shellcode, Porting & Coding".

Thanks again Paco, excellent book. Please let us know of the second edition as I will definitely pre-order without a doubt.
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I bought this book on the strength of other reviews, and I'm a bit disappointed. It's useful, but not worthy of 5 stars.

The book is structured like the other "Cookbook" titles from O'Reilly. Each chapter has a series of "recipes" that describe a problem, present a solution, and have some discussion about the issue. It's unclear exactly who the target audience is.

Some of the recipes are very basic -- this is good if you've got very little experience working with tools like curl or wget, but not worth much if you've seen these and know how to read the man pages for these tools to find the flag you're looking for. Recipes like these lead me to believe that the audience for the book includes people who are very new to web technologies.

Other recipes are meaty enough -- there are several recipes that have page-long perl or bash scripts to automate (for example) the hunt for XSS vulnerabilities.

But then again, I can't see how a rookie web tester can possibly get through the book without a lot of head scratching. While vulnerabilities like cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injection are mentioned frequently, they are never defined, and their mechanism of operation is never clearly laid out. This leads me to believe that the target audience is people with at least an intermediate-level understanding of what these attacks mean, how they are performed, and what happens behind the scenes.

I was disappointed to see a couple of serious errors after only browsing through the recipes for an hour or so. For example, on page 90 the authors state that on Unix/Linux systems, filenames can contain slashes. This is incorrect: slashes are the only non-NUL character *not* allowed in a Linux filename.
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