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Software Development Newsletter: Q2 2024

Director Message

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Welcome to this next Mitrais Newsletter for 2024.

In this issue we present a Whitepaper on the current industry standard web application security testing suite, introduce you to Diaz, one of our most experienced Technical Evangelists, and round out with a video showcasing one of Mitrais’ latest Management Development training events, and how it adds to the value Mitrais offers your organisation.

Everyday application security becomes more and more of a hot button for those of us dedicated to developing the intellectual property of software applications for either our internal use as a market differentiator, or for the use of your valuable clients. This is especially so when discussing web applications which by their very nature can be subjected to attempts by bad actors to breach them. In response there have been several tools released to enable developers to integrate web application security testing into the development process, and the Burp Suite has emerged as something of an industry standard in this field. In our Whitepaper, learn more about Burp’s key features, techniques for its effective use in a test environment, and the best practices for baking it into your development processes.

Our Featured Employee this time is Diaz Dwiastamika, one of Mitrais’ Technical Evangelists. Although initially drawn to gaming, Diaz instead joined Mitrais as a Junior Programmer in 2005, hoping to shape a successful career working with some of our diverse and international clients. His skills were a great match for his new role, but global software development took a turn that provided him with a major challenge. Read about how Diaz faced it head on, and leveraged the opportunities that Mitrais offered to grow his career to even greater heights.

In a dynamic global environment (sometimes referred to as VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous), how we adapt and meet the challenges matters more than ever. In the spirit of Continuous Commitment, Mitrais’ management team was lucky to spend some more time with Dr Katy Tindall recently. Dr Tindall is a highly recognised Organisational Psychologist from the Australian Institute of Management in Perth, with decades of experience working with global executives in a range of fields. This is the 3rd time we have had the benefit of Dr Tindall’s consulting and training, and in this video, she discusses the processes that she believes will continue to make Mitrais a success, and the benefits to our clients.

Enjoy this newsletter, and as always, we wish you all continued health and prosperity for now and the future.

Empowering Leaders: Insights from Mitrais' Management Training

In a world full of complexity, strong leadership is more crucial than ever. Mitrais recently hosted a training program for our management team, led by renowned organisational psychologist Dr. Katy Tindall from the Australian Institute of Management in Perth. This program aimed to equip them with both technical expertise and leadership skills to excel and maintain excellence in our rapidly evolving industry. 

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Collaboration is key. Our experienced leaders shared their insights, emphasising how collaboration unlocks complex challenges. The training is designed to enable them to engage deeply, foster strong team connections, and apply these principles to benefit our valued clients. 

This commitment to leadership excellence provides a distinct advantage for our clients. The training equips our team with the latest research and insights necessary to develop successful strategies in a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous). 

Watch the full management training video HERE and discover how Dr. Katy’s insights can empower your team too! 

Maximising Web Application Security Testing Efficiency with Burp Suite

Abstract

Burp Suite is designed to adapt to a wide range of testing scenarios, from manual exploration and manipulation of individual HTTP requests to automated scanning for common vulnerabilities. It has also earned widespread recognition and adoption within the security community, with thousands of security professionals, penetration testers, and organisations relying on it for their security testing needs. Burp Suite stands as an important tool in the armoury of web application security testers, offering a suite of features and capabilities to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities effectively. This white paper digs into the details of Burp Suite, explaining its various components, methodologies, and best practices to optimise security testing efforts.

From an exploration of its key features to advanced techniques, this white paper serves as a comprehensive guide for web app security testers seeking to maximise the efficiency of their security testing processes. By providing actionable insights and recommendations, organisations can harness the power of Burp Suite to support their web application security and safeguard against evolving threats.

 

I. Introduction

In today’s digital world, web applications still play important roles in sharing information, communication, and conducting business. However, this widespread adoption of web applications also introduces a whole plethora of security risks, ranging from common vulnerabilities like SQL Injection and Cross-site scripting (XSS) to sophisticated attacks targeting authentication mechanisms and session management.

To mitigate these risks, security professionals require robust tools and methodologies capable of identifying and addressing vulnerabilities effectively.

There are some tools available to detect web application vulnerabilities like OWASP Zap, Nikto, and W3af. These kinds of tools are handy and provide features for both manual and automatic scan. However, this might not be enough since the penetration tester will need more sophisticated and deep digging on the vulnerabilities. Amongst these tools, Burp Suite has emerged as an industry standard, offering a comprehensive toolkit designed specifically for web app security testing. It has earned its status as an industry standard tool in the field of web application security because it is widely recognised and respected within the cybersecurity community and it is frequently recommended in security certifications, training programs, and industry conferences. Its widespread adoption by security professionals and organisations further solidifies its position as an industry standard tool.

This white paper serves as a comprehensive guide to Burp Suite, exploring its features, methodologies, and best practices for maximising efficiency in security testing endeavours. Whether you’re a seasoned security expert or a newcomer to the field, understanding the capabilities of Burp Suite is essential for safeguarding web applications against potential threats.

Through a detailed examination of its key components, advanced techniques, and test case studies, this white paper aims to provide actionable insights for leveraging Burp Suite to its fullest potential. By incorporating these methodologies and best practices, organisations can enhance their security posture, mitigate vulnerabilities, and support their defences against web application threats.

 

II. Key Features and Components

Burp Suite provides a range of features and components designed to facilitate comprehensive web application security testing. Understanding these key elements is essential for utilising the full power of the toolkit:

  1. Proxy
    At the heart of Burp Suite is its proxy tool, which acts as a man-in-the-middle between the user’s browser and the target web application. This allows security testers to intercept and modify HTTP requests and responses, providing invaluable insights into the application’s behaviour and vulnerabilities.
  2. Scanner
    Burp Scanner automates the process of identifying security vulnerabilities within web applications. It leverages a wide range of checks to detect common issues such as SQL injections, cross-site scripting (XSS), and insecure server configurations. The scanner’s robustness and accuracy make it a vital tool for quickly assessing the security posture of web applications.
  3. Spider
    The Spider tool in Burp Suite is used for site mapping and asset discovery. By recursively crawling through the application, it identifies all accessible content, including hidden or dynamically generated pages. This comprehensive site map serves as a foundation for further testing and analysis.
  4. Intruder
    Burp Intruder is a powerful tool for automated attacks and brute force testing. It allows testers to customise and execute complex attack scenarios against web application parameters, such as input fields and HTTP headers. This capability is invaluable for identifying vulnerabilities such as weak authentication mechanisms and injection flaws.
  5. Repeater
    The Repeater tool enables manual manipulation and re-sending of individual HTTP requests, making it ideal for fine-tuning and verifying the results of security testing. Testers can modify parameters, headers, and payloads on the fly, allowing the precise exploration of application behaviour and vulnerabilities.
  6. Sequencer
    Burp Sequencer analyses the randomness and quality of tokens and session identifiers generated by web applications. By assessing entropy and randomness, it helps identify predictable or weak session management mechanisms, which are often exploited in attacks such as session fixation and session hijacking.
  7. Extensibility
    Burp Suite’s extensibility is one of its most powerful features, allowing testers to enhance its functionality through custom extensions. These extensions can range from simple scripts to complex modules that integrate with external tools or services. The vibrant Burp Suite community continuously develops and shares extensions, expanding the toolkit’s capabilities even further.

 

III. Methodologies and Techniques

Effective web application security testing requires more than just using tools. It involves employing methodologies and techniques to systematically identify and mitigate vulnerabilities. Burp Suite provides a framework for conducting comprehensive security assessments, incorporating both manual and automated approaches. Here are the key methodologies and techniques supported by Burp Suite

  1. Target Analysis
    Before testing begins, it is crucial to define the scope of the assessment and identify the target web application. Burp Suite allows testers to configure target scope by specifying which hosts, directories, or parameters to include or exclude from testing. This ensures that testing efforts are focused on relevant areas of the application.
  2. Site Mapping
    Burp Suite’s Spider tool facilitates site mapping by recursively crawling through the web application and identifying all accessible content. This includes pages, directories, parameters, and other resources. The resulting site map provides an overview of the application’s structure and helps testers identify potential entry points for further testing.
  3. Vulnerability Discovery
    Burp Suite supports various techniques for discovering vulnerabilities, both manually and automatically. Manual techniques involve using tools like Intruder, Repeater, and Decoder to manipulate and analyse individual requests and responses. Automated scanning with Burp Scanner allows testers to quickly identify common vulnerabilities such as SQL Injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and more.
  4. Exploitation
    Once vulnerabilities are identified, testers can leverage Burp Suite’s tools to exploit them further. For example, Intruder can be used to automate attacks such as brute force testing and parameter manipulation. Additionally, Repeater allows testers to manually verify and exploit vulnerabilities by modifying parameters and payloads.
  5. Reporting
    Burp Suite enables testers to generate comprehensive reports summarising the findings of the security assessment. These reports typically include details of identified vulnerabilities, their severity, and recommendations for remediation. Burp Suite provides customisable reporting templates and allows users to export reports in various formats for sharing with stakeholders.

By following these methodologies and techniques, security testers can effectively use Burp Suite to conduct thorough security assessments of web applications. Whether performing manual testing, automated scanning, or a combination of both, Burp Suite provides the tools and capabilities needed to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities effectively.

 

IV. Best Practices for Efficient Testing

To maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of security testing using Burp Suite, it is important to follow best practices that ensure thorough coverage and accurate identification of vulnerabilities. Here are some recommended best practices:

  1. Configuring Burp Suite for optimal performance
    Take the time to configure Burp Suite settings according to the specific requirements of the web application being tested. This includes adjusting proxy settings, scope control, and scan configurations to minimise false positives and maximise coverage.
  2. Integrating Burp Suite into the development lifecycle
    Incorporate Burp Suite into the software development lifecycle (SDLC) to ensure security testing is conducted early and often. Integrate Burp Suite with your continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline to automate testing as part of the build and deployment process.
  3. Collaborative testing and team collaboration features
    Utilise Burp Suite’s collaboration features to facilitate teamwork and knowledge sharing amongst security testers. Burp Collaborator allows testers to share findings, collaborate on testing activities, and coordinate remediation efforts effectively.
  4. Continuous monitoring and assessment
    Security testing is not a one-time activity but an ongoing process. Use Burp Suite’s monitoring features to continuously assess the security posture of web applications, identifying new vulnerabilities and addressing them promptly.
  5. Thoroughly reviewing scan results
    When using Burp Suite Scanner, carefully review scan results to differentiate between true vulnerabilities and false positives. Understand the context of each finding and prioritise remediation effort based on severity and impact.
  6. Documenting findings and reporting vulnerabilities
    Document all findings, including vulnerabilities discovered, attack vectors, and recommended remediation steps. Generate comprehensive reports using Burp Suite’s reporting functionality, ensuring that stakeholders have clear visibility into the security status of the application.

By sticking to these best practices, security teams can streamline their testing processes, improve collaboration, and effectively leverage Burp Suite to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities in web applications.

 

V. Advanced Techniques and Use Cases

While Burp Suite provides a comprehensive set of tools for basic security testing, it also supports advanced techniques and use cases that allow security professionals to uncover more complex vulnerabilities and attack vectors. Here are some advanced techniques and use cases supported by Burp Suite:

  1. Parameter Manipulation and Evasion Techniques
    Advanced attackers often manipulate parameters in web requests to bypass security controls or exploit vulnerabilities. Burp Suite’s Intruder tool can be used to automate parameter manipulation and test the application’s resilience to such attacks. Additionally, techniques like SQL Injection, XSS, and Path Traversal can be further explored using custom payloads and evasion techniques.
  2. Advanced Payload Crafting for Injection Attacks
    Burp Suite’s Intruder tool offers extensive options for crafting custom payloads to test for injection vulnerabilities such as SQL Injection, LDAP Injection, and XML External Entity (XXE) Injection. Testers can create and customise payloads to target specific vulnerabilities and validate the effectiveness of security controls.
  3. Out-of-Band Testing using Burp Collaborator
    Burp Collaborator enables testers to detect out-of-band vulnerabilities, such as blind SSRF (Server-Side Request Forgery) and blind XXE (XML External Entity) vulnerabilities. By interacting with Burp Collaborator, testers can confirm the presence of vulnerabilities that may not directly return responses to the attacker, providing valuable insights into potential attack vectors.
  4. Advanced Customisation and Scripting with Burp Extensions
    Burp Suite’s extensibility allows users to extend its functionality through custom extensions written in Java, Python, or Ruby. These extensions can automate repetitive tasks, integrate with external tools and services, or add new features to Burp Suite. Examples include custom session handling rules, payload generators, and integration with vulnerability management platforms.
  5. Client-Side Testing and JavaScript Analysis
    Burp Suite includes tools for analysing and manipulating client-side code, such as JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Testers can use the embedded browser to inspect and modify JavaScript code, analyse client-side security controls, and identify vulnerabilities such as DOM-based XSS and insecure client-side data handling.
  6. WebSocket Testing
    Burp Suite supports WebSocket interception and analysis, allowing testers to inspect and manipulate WebSocket traffic for security testing purposes. This feature enables the identification of vulnerabilities in WebSocket implementations, such as insecure message handling or authentication bypass.

VI. Conclusion

Burp Suite’s features provide a sophisticated tool for web application security testing, providing security professionals with a comprehensive suite of features and capabilities to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities effectively. Throughout this white paper, we have explored the key components, methodologies, and best practices for leveraging Burp Suite to its full potential.

From intercepting and analysing HTTP traffic to automating vulnerability scanning, Burp Suite offers a versatile toolkit for security testers at every stage of the testing process. By following best practices such as configuring Burp Suite for optimal performance, integrating it into the development lifecycle, and collaborating effectively with team members, organisations can enhance their security posture and protect against evolving threats.

Furthermore, Burp Suite supports advanced techniques and use cases, enabling testers to uncover complex vulnerabilities and attack vectors that may otherwise go unnoticed. By mastering these advanced features, security professionals can stay ahead of adversaries and ensure the resilience of web applications against sophisticated attacks.

In conclusion, Burp Suite empowers security teams to conduct thorough and efficient security assessments, providing the insights and tools needed to secure web applications in today’s dynamic threat landscape. By incorporating Burp Suite into their security testing processes and adhering to best practices outlined in this white paper, organisations can mitigate risk, protect sensitive data, and maintain the trust of their customers and stakeholders.

 

References

  1. Dhanjani, Nitesh, Billy Rios, and Brett Harding. “Hacking: The Next Generation.” O’Reilly Media, Inc., 2009.
  2. Sunny, Wear. “Burp Suite Cookbook – Second Edition.” Packt Publishing Ltd, 2023.
  3. PortSwigger Ltd. (n.d.). Burp Suite Documentation. Retrieved from https://portswigger.net/burp/documentation
  4. PortSwigger Ltd. (n.d.) Burp Suite Blog. Retrieved from https://portswigger.net/blog
  5. PortSwigger Ltd. (n.d.). Burp Suite Community Edition. Retrieved from https://portswigger.net/burp/community
  6. OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project). (n.d.). OWASP Top Ten. Retrieved from https://owasp.org/www-project-top-ten/
  7. Gartner Vulnerability Assessment Reviews and Ratings 2024. Retrieved from https://www.gartner.com/reviews/market/vulnerability-assessment

 

Diaz Dwiastamika: Reinventing Myself with Mitrais

In a dynamic and constantly changing discipline like Software Engineering, it is often the case that the career that you initially embarked on morphs and evolves over time as your experience grows and opportunities present themselves. So, it has been for this month’s Featured Employee, Diaz Dwiastamika.

Of Balinese descent, Diaz spent much of his childhood in Jakarta. After high school he relocated to Bandung, where he found himself drawn toward Informatics. “I have always enjoyed books and the immersive worlds of games. Storytelling has always held a special place in my heart, so I aimed to develop games that would transport players into rich and imaginative tales” he says.

After graduation in 2005, another opportunity piqued his interest. Mitrais were constantly on the lookout for talented people and came onto his radar. “I knew Mitrais through college friends who were interning there. Learning that it was based in Bali was appealing considering my Balinese heritage—it felt like a homecoming.”

But rather than gaming, Mitrais saw potential for Diaz in mining/ERP software projects and offered comprehensive additional training to help him succeed. “Initially, the job requirements made me feel slightly pessimistic about my chances” he says. “It felt so far outside of my experience and comfort zone. Much to my surprise and delight I was accepted.”

Diaz’s career took off, and the opportunities kept coming. “I began my journey at Mitrais as a junior-grade programmer, delving into projects centered around COBOL. I ventured onsite to clients across the world, immersing myself in diverse technical and business domains.” Diaz says. Soon he became a recognized senior member of Mitrais.

However, as the global software ecosystem evolved and demand for newer technology exploded, Diaz faced a career turning point. “I found myself in a position where the demand for my old tech stack dwindled, and I needed to pivot to new technologies. This transition placed me in the shoes of a junior programmer again, despite retaining the responsibilities of a senior developer. It was undeniably a challenging period.” But his determination and capabilities and the support of Mitrais meant that he was ready for the challenge.

How did Mitrais help? “Our competency framework stands out as one of the best I’ve encountered.” he says. “It provides a clear roadmap for career development. It has been instrumental in guiding my professional journey, allowing me to make informed decisions about my career path and take deliberate steps toward advancement.”

Taking advantage of the support offered by Mitrais, the results are clear. “I am now a Technical Evangelist at Mitrais, where I engage in analysis and architectural design for projects, ensuring their robustness and efficacy. I also serve as a mentor to fellow software engineers, offering guidance and insights into technological intricacies. I can keep abreast of emerging technologies, continuously scouting for innovations that could potentially shape the future landscape of our industry.”

So, was joining Mitrais a good decision in hindsight? “After more than 15 years, Mitrais has become more than just a workplace—it feels like family. These experiences not only bring joy, but also continuously enrich my knowledge and perspective.”

 

 

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