**Security First in Software** Software has been used to address all kinds of problems. As software solutions continue to saturate every area of modern society, it is critical that the software be impervious to misuse. Successfully protecting against misuse requires attention to security at all stages of software development. This tutorial lists a number of security principles and practices and discusses how beginning developers can apply these to software development. # Security Principles -- Be Mindful Creating secure software isn't easy. You need to be aware of secure development principles and be mindful of their application. Java platform comes with a security architecture that can protect against software from untrusted sources. No security architecture can defend against security exploits stemming from implementation defects in trusted code. * **Integrity** -- Only authorized users can manipulate data via authorized methods and procedures. - Rigorous encapsulation limits the damage that a miscreant can inflict. * **Confidentiality** -- Unauthorized access to information is prevented. - Leaking data can be disastrous even if the villain is unable to gain control of your software. * **Availability** -- Authorized users can access the system. - If adversaries can deny users access to your software, it may as well not exist. * **Principle of Least Privilege** -- Grant minimal access rights to tools and data. - Fine grain controls on access ensures that if a portion of your software is compromised, the pain is limited. * **Economy of Mechanism** -- Systems should be designed as simple and as small as possible. - Simplicity reduces the likelihood of design and implementation errors that could compromise security. * **Open Design** -- System security should not be dependent on the secrecy of its design or implementation. - Relying on secrets for security means that your security is only as good as your secrets. * **Psychological Acceptability** -- The software should be as easy to use or access as if the security mechanisms weren't present. - Humans are a rich attack vector for security breaches. Minimizing incentives for users' behavior to weaken security in response to frustrating software is critical. * **Fail Secure** -- Limit the amount of information exposed when failing. - If a hacker succeeds in causing your software to fail, don't give them a bonus by leaking additional information that could help them further exploit your software. * **Plan for Failure** -- Have a plan for securing systems and recovering from suspected/known security breaches. - Swift responses are critical to minimizing damage. Rushed responses can make things even worse. * **Weakest Link** -- A system is only as strong as its weakest link. - No component of security can be neglected. # Security Practices * **Be defensive** - Implement as if you are under attack. * **Prefer having obviously no flaws rather than no obvious flaws** - Avoid clever logic that makes flaws less obvious. * **Avoid duplication** - Maintaining consistency across duplicated code is tedious, and often doesn't happen. * **Establish trust boundaries** - Data that crosses boundaries should be sanitized and validated. * **Encapsulate** - Allocate behaviors and provide succinct interfaces. - Fields should be private and accessors avoided. - An interface/class/package/module should form a coherent set of behaviors. * **Document security-related information** - Required permissions - Security-related exceptions, preconditions, postconditions * **Beware of activities that may use disproportionate resources** - Requesting large image sizes for vector graphics - Integer overflows - Infinite loops * **Release resources in all cases** - Treat every open operation as if it requires an explicit close operation. - Ensure that any output buffers are flushed in the case that output was otherwise successful. If the flush fails, the code should exit via an exception. * **Purge sensitive information from exceptions** - Exception objects may contain sensitive information. This is useful when debugging, but could pose a security risk in production. For example, a `FileNotFoundException` may contain the location of a configuration file with sensitive information. * **Do not log highly sensitive information** - E.g., Social Security numbers and passwords * **Consider overwriting highly sensitive data from memory after use** - Reduces risk of sensitive data exposure from sniffing memory before garbage collector acts. - Can be difficult + Cannot overwrite immutable fields + Libraries may make additional copies of data * **Generate valid formatting** - Guards against attacks exploiting special characters as inputs, incorrect escaping, etc... to cause incorrect formatting. - Use well-tested libraries for output -- If they don't exist, create simple classes with the sole purpose of cleanly handling formatting (so they are easier to test). * **HTML/XML/SQL generation requires care** - Sanitize untrusted data before including it in HTML, XML, or SQL. * **Limit the extensibility of classes and methods** - Design classes and methods for inheritance or declare them as `final`. - Left non-final, a class or method can be maliciously overridden by an attacker. * **Validate inputs** - Inputs from untrusted sources must be validate before use. * **Prevent constructors from calling methods that can be overridden** - Constructors that call overridable methods give attackers a reference to `this` before the object has been fully initialized. * **Prefer immutability** - Declaring things as `final` ensures that they can't be changed maliciously. * **Ensure `public` fields are `final`** - Only immutable values should be stored in `public` fields to prevent malicious changes. * **Ensure `public static final` field values are constants** - `public static final` means that the field can't be changed. If the field is a reference, it just means that the reference can't point to a different object; however, it is still possible to interact with the reference, and if the reference points to an object that isn't immutable, the reference can be used to change the value of the object. * **Create copies of mutable output values** - Returning a reference to a field from an object gives the caller direct access to that internal field, even if it was declared `private`. Making a copy of the field and returning a reference to that copy is safer. # Acknowledgement This document was inspired by [this presentation by Dr. Dennis](https://goo.gl/JDzAWk) and is in large part based on the first two sources below: * [Secure Coding Guidelines for Java SE](http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/seccodeguide-139067.html) * [Top 10 Secure Coding Practices](https://www.securecoding.cert.org/confluence/display/seccode/Top+10+Secure+Coding+Practices) * [SEI CERT Oracle Coding Standard for Java](https://wiki.sei.cmu.edu/confluence/display/java/SEI+CERT+Oracle+Coding+Standard+for+Java) * [Java Security Developer's Guide](https://docs.oracle.com/javase/9/security/java-security-overview1.htm) * [Java Security Features Tutorial](https://docs.oracle.com/javase/tutorial/security/) * [Java Security Resource Center](http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/javase/overview/security-2043272.html)