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Google tutorial lets developers play malicious hacker

Pwn by numbers

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Google has released a free online tutorial that gives developers the chance to play the role of malicious hacker by exploiting real security bugs in a mock web application.

The codelab is premised on a "small, cheesy web application" dubbed Jarlsberg that is chock-full of bugs that can be exploited to take down webservers, perform remote code-execution attacks, and spring information-disclosure leaks. It can be downloaded and run on a local machine to teach developers firsthand the perils of insecure coding.

Google's "Web Application Exploits and Defenses" codelab can be used in a black-box setting, in which hackers aren't privy to the source code of the application they're attacking, or a white-box setting, in which they are. Jarlsberg is written in Python, although hackers, of course, need not be versed in the language in order to make mincemeat of the application.

The tutorial is designed to give developers - and anyone else - hands-on experience finding and fixing security bugs in the typical web application. It's broken up into various classes of vulnerabilities such as XSS, or cross-site scripting; CSRF, or cross-site request forgeries; and path traversal. Students are taught not only how to identify specific types of vulnerabilities but how to exploit them to carry out certain types of attacks.

The code is available here, and and a PDF of an instructor's guide is here. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

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