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121. Securing Java Web Applications
Version 7.0

Book cover

This course shows Java web developers how to secure their applications and to apply best practices with regard to secure enterprise coding. Authentication, authorization, and input validation are major themes, and students get good exposure to basic Java cryptography for specific development scenarios, as well as thorough discussions of HTTPS configuration and certificate management, error handling, logging, and auditing.

Perhaps the most eye-opening parts of the course concern common web "hacks," or attack vectors. Students see how easy it is to leave an application unguarded against cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (CSRF), SQL injection, and other attack types -- and learn that it's also easy to fix such vulnerabilities and the importance of a secure development process.

Prerequisites

  • Java programming experience is essential -- Course 103 is excellent preparation.
  • Servlets programming experience is required -- Course 111.
  • JSP page-authoring experience is recommended but not required -- again, Course 111.

Learning Objectives

  • Generally, be prepared to develop secure Java web applications, or to secure existing applications by refactoring as necessary.
  • Define security constraints and login configurations that instruct the web container to enforce authentication and authorization policies.
  • Guard against common web attacks including XSS, CSRF, and SQL injection.
  • Validate user input aggressively, for general application health and specifically to foil injection and XSS attacks.
  • Configure a server and/or application to use one-way or two-way HTTPS.
  • Apply application-level cryptography where necessary.
  • Store sensitive information securely, hash user passwords, and understand the importance of salting and of using slow hashing algorithms and processes, to maximize the safety of stored credentials.
  • Secure log files and establish audit trails for especially sensitive information or actions.

Timeline: 4 days.

Server Support: Tomcat

  • This version of the course works with the Tomcat server. Our Java EE courses are available in variants that support various server products, including Tomcat, GlassFish, JBoss, and WebLogic. For more details, and to find a desired server-specific version of a course, see our server-support matrix.

IDE Support: Eclipse Luna

  • In addition to the primary lab files, an optional overlay is available that adds support for Eclipse Luna. Students can code, build, deploy, and test all exercises from within the IDE. See also our orientation to Using Capstone's Eclipse Overlays.

Chapter 1. Concerns for Web Applications

  • Threats and Attack Vectors
  • Server, Network, and Browser Vulnerabilities
  • Secure Design Principles
  • GET vs. POST
  • Container Authentication and Authorization
  • HTML Forms
  • Privacy Under /WEB-INF
  • HTTP and HTTPS
  • Other Cryptographic Practices
  • SOA and Web Services
  • The OWASP Top 10

Chapter 2. Authentication and Authorization

  • HTTP BASIC and DIGEST Authentication Schemes
  • Declaring Security Constraints
  • User Accounts
  • Safeguarding Credentials in Transit
  • Replay Attacks
  • Authorization Over URL Patterns
  • Roles
  • FORM Authentication
  • Login Form Design
  • Session Fixation
  • Protections
  • Programmatic Security
  • Programmatic Security in JSF

Chapter 3. Common Web Attacks

  • Forceful Browsing
  • Predictable Resource Locations
  • Using Random Numbers
  • Cross-Site Scripting
  • Output Escaping
  • Cross-Site Request Forgery
  • Synchronizer Tokens
  • Injection Attacks
  • Protections in JDBC and JPA
  • Session Management
  • Taking Care of Cookies

Chapter 4. Input Validation

  • Validating User Input
  • Validation Practices
  • Regular Expressions
  • Bean Validation (a/k/a JSR-303)
  • Constraint Annotations
  • Cross-Field Validation
  • Built-In Support in Java EE
  • Using a Validator
  • Producing Error Responses
  • JSF Validation

Chapter 5. HTTPS and Certificates

  • Digital Cryptography
  • Encryption
  • SSL and Secure Key Exchange
  • Hashing
  • Signature
  • Keystores
  • keytool
  • Why Keys Aren't Enough
  • X.509 Certificates
  • Certificate Authorities
  • Obtaining a Signed Certificate
  • Configuring HTTPS
  • Client-Side Certificates and Two-Way SSL
  • PKCS #12 and Trust Stores
  • CLIENT-CERT Authentication

Chapter 6. Application-Level Cryptography

  • The Java Cryptography Architecture
  • Secure Random Number Generation
  • The KeyStore API
  • Digital Signature
  • Hashing
  • Password Hashing
  • Why Hashing Isn't Enough
  • Salts
  • Key Lengthening and Key Strengthening
  • Slow Algorithms
  • The Java Cryptography Extensions
  • The SecretKey and KeyGenerator Types
  • Symmetric Encryption
  • Choosing Algorithms and Key Sizes
  • Dangerous Practices
  • Storing and Managing Keys

Chapter 7. Secure Development Practices

  • Secure Development Cycle
  • Penetration Testing
  • Secure Code Review
  • Error Handling and Information Leakage
  • Failing to a Secure Mode
  • Designing for Failure
  • Back Doors
  • Logging Practices
  • Appropriate Content for Logs
  • Auditing Strategies

Appendix A. Learning Resources

System Requirements

Hardware Requirements (Minimum) Core i5, 1.8 GHz, 4 gig RAM, 1 gig disk space.
Hardware Requirements (Recommended) Core i5, 2.5 GHz GHz, 8 gig RAM, 1 gig disk space.
Operating System Tested on Windows 7 and 8, Mac OS 10.8. Most exercises are fully portable over operating systems, web servers, and major web browsers. The demonstration of HTTPS-configuration in Chapter 5 focuses on Internet Explorer 10 and Tomcat 8, with brief notes on configuration for other browsers. Browsers continue to evolve rapidly -- especially where security is concerned -- and other configurations desired in the classroom should be tested by the instructor prior to class time.
Network and Security Limited privileges required -- please see our standard security requirements.
Software Requirements All free downloadable tools.