Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Gerardo A Dada, Sematext Blog

Related Topics: Java IoT, Microservices Expo

Java IoT: Article

Best Practices for Securing Your SOA: A Holistic Approach

Testing server-side components

Service-Oriented Architectures offer a number of potential benefits: They can provide new opportunities to connect enterprises with customers, partners, and suppliers; improve efficiency through greater reuse of services across the enterprise; and offer greater flexibility by breaking down IT silos. But these benefits make security more critical than ever. Why? Services are highly distributed, multi-owner, deployed to heterogeneous platforms, and often accessible across departments and enterprises - and this creates major security issues for developers, architects, and security and operations professionals. Fortunately, there are ways to make your SOA more secure. If you're building applications to SOA using J2EE, BPEL, or XML, you can build security into an SOA by addressing security throughout the entire application lifecycle - not just at deployment time.

We'll examine the types of attacks applications are vulnerable to, and then outline a holistic approach to protecting applications and services that encourages secure coding practices and the use of Web Services security infrastructure. You'll learn how to protect services from the outside (with infrastructure) and inside (through static analysis of your code). Finally, you'll see how all the pieces come together as we work through an example of an auto loan application.

Typical Attacks
What types of attacks do you need to be aware of when you're building applications to SOA using Web Services? As it turns out, the key aspects that make your SOA more successful - the ability for developers across your departments and trading partners to be able to find applications exposed as services, and the way that WSDL documents define operations that can be invoked - may also make it appealing to hackers.

Here are some potential vulnerabilities:

  • Authentication/authorization. Without the appropriate mechanisms in place, anyone can access a service, invoke it, and perform sensitive operations even if he's not authorized. More often what typically happens is that it takes a while to de-authorize entities from accessing systems. In the meantime, they have free rein. Identity Management and Web Services Management (WSM) solutions, and XML firewalls can help.
  • Spoofing. Gaining access to a system by using a stolen identity. If you log and audit service interactions, operations employees can identify who did what and when in the event of a spoof.
  • Tampering. Unauthorized modification of data, such as header information including WS-Addressing, as it flows over the network. Digital signatures, which are based on the message, ensure message integrity. Another form of tampering takes the form of JavaScript that alters the contents of the XML document and can redirect the communication from the Web browser.
  • Repudiation. Users (legitimate or otherwise) may deny that they made specific transactions. Logging and auditing capabilities address this.
  • Information disclosure. The unwarranted exposure of private data when on the wire. Encryption helps ensure confidentiality but doesn't ensure message integrity.
  • Denial of service. Making an application unavailable by sending a huge number of requests or very large XML payloads. (This is a problem only if it breaks your application!) XML firewalls and appliances let you protect your services from such attacks.
  • Invalid messages. Certain XML messages can contain malicious code such as SQL statements, viruses, or worms that can compromise or corrupt data, applications, and systems, and potentially leave them exposed. This code can appear in the body of the XML document or in CDATA tags. Hackers tamper with the SOAP messages themselves to disable the service through illegitimate or malformed requests.
  • Replay attacks. If tokens/cookies are used for secure conversation, the attackers can capture the tokens/cookies and re-use them later by replaying the same.
  • XML routing detours/external referencing. XML documents can contain references to external structures.
You'll recognize many of these items, as they equally apply to both Web Services and Web applications.

A Holistic Approach To Protecting Services
To protect against these potential vulnerabilities, you should take a holistic approach to security that includes infrastructures, tools, and software development practices:

  • Protect services from the outside at deployment time by using WSM solutions. This addresses issues related to identifying the message sender, authentication, authorization, ensuring message security, and verifying the structure of SOAP headers and XML documents. Security policies can be applied to both inbound and outbound service interactions. Don't worry about these: Your WSM infrastructure sits outside your service and takes care of them for you.
  • Protect services from the inside by building security into your software development process. You must validate the input in your code to protect yourself against attacks that result from invalid messages. By validating the content of XML documents, you address attacks that result from invalid messages, such as buffer overflow, SQL injection, XML injection, and XPath exploits. Use static analysis tools to help identify such vulnerabilities.
  • Simulate known attack patterns and fix vulnerabilities before going live by using dynamic analysis tools in a running deployment during the QA process. By putting the attackers' hat on and stress-testing your SOA applications, you can help uncover and resolve vulnerabilities before deployment. Although you may have to work a little harder during the QA process, you'll get fewer post-deployment headaches, which more than makes up for it.
  • Monitor post go-live using monitoring dashboards (part of WSM solutions) that present data that's collected as security policies are executed on services. These dashboards let administrators monitor compliance with IT operational best practices in real-time, such as audits on security violations on a per-Web Service, per-operation, and per-client basis. To address vulnerabilities, administrators can configure operational rules and propagate them to the appropriate enforcement components across an application deployment of any scale and complexity in real-time.
Let's look at all of these except monitoring (since the latter is more operationally focused).

Protecting Services from the Outside
Most Web Services are based on the same technology as the Web, namely HTTP. As a result, all common technologies used to secure the Web, such as Web authentication and SSL, work equally well with Web Services - for point-to-point security. With SSL alone, you can do authentication (the communication is established between two trusted parties); confidentiality (the data exchanged is encrypted); and, message integrity (the data is checked for possible corruption). However, solutions such as SSL are a little heavy-handed since they secure the entire channel. Furthermore, for many message-based interactions, intermediary steps are required before the messages arrive at their target endpoint. This leaves XML messages unsecured at each intermediary checkpoint - exposed to tampering, information disclosure, and message altering.

To get a finer level of control and avoid intermediary security issues, it's best to secure the message rather than the complete transport. The idea is to replace SSL capabilities with message-level security, where the security information is carried in the message itself. This way, unless the intermediary or endpoints have the correct security infrastructure in place and are trusted, the message will remain secure and unreadable and can be forwarded to the next endpoint.

So how do you secure the message rather than the transport? WS-Security defines a mechanism for adding three levels of security to SOAP messages:

  1. Authentication tokens. WS-Security authentication tokens let the client provide a user name and password or X509 certificate for the purpose of authentication headers.
  2. XML encryption. WS-Security's use of W3C's XML encryption standard enables the XML body or portion of it to be encrypted to ensure message confidentiality.
  3. XML digital signatures. WS-Security's use of W3C's XML digital signatures lets the message be digitally signed to ensure message integrity. The signature is based on the content of the message itself (by applying the hash function and public key), so if the message is altered en route, the signature becomes invalid.
A final thought on this - don't forget that you can use transport and message-level security together, e.g., use a WS-Security Username token without encryption and use SSL to encrypt the transaction.

There are two ways to implement this: You can embed the logic for processing tokens, handling encryption, and applying hash functions and digital signatures in the service implementation itself, or you can use a WSM solution. The first option is shown in Figure 1.

WSM solutions intercept incoming and outgoing service communications and apply a set of policies in a pipeline fashion, including authentication, authorization, decryption, signature validation, and XML schema validation. They move the active enforcement of the policies and agreements to the boundaries of an application, letting the application developer concentrate on the business logic. These solutions typically provide a policy management tool for building new security and operations policies, storing policies, and managing distribution and updates to runtime policy enforcement points. In this way, policies are defined and changed centrally but enforced locally. If you have to authenticate to an Identity Management System that's not supported by the WSM solution out-of-the box, such as a JAAS login module, Oracle Web Services Manager, as well as many WSM products, provides an SDK for developing policy steps. They provide operational dashboards for monitoring policies as they execute to ensure service levels, incorporating alerts so corrective actions can be taken in a timely fashion.

WSM solutions typically provide two types of enforcement components and policy enforcement points: Gateway and Agents. Gateways are deployed in front of a group of applications or services. They can intercept inbound requests to these applications to enforce policy steps, adding application security and other operation rules to applications that are already deployed. They also allow (or deny) inside users access to predetermined outside services. Agents provide an additional fine-grained level of security by plugging directly into an application or service.

Service virtualization is also a key capability. Typically an Internet user makes a service request using a username and password combination, but the service may be expecting a SAML assertion. With a WSM solution, you can have a gateway on the requester side that intercepts the request, authenticates the user with the username/ password combination, and inserts a SAML assertion that can be validated at the service by a WSM agent. In effect, the user calls a service in a virtual way through the credentials that he knows, not the credentials that the Web Service is expecting.

Figure 2 shows the context in which a WSM solution can be deployed. Note that you could deploy an XML firewall or appliance before the gateway. These appliances are typically good at applying macro policies and protecting against attacks such as buffer overflow attacks, which don't require application context.

Securing Services from the Inside
Securing applications from the outside isn't enough to protect your application. Web Services gateway solutions, whether implemented in an appliance or software, can't confidently check the content of XML messages since they don't have the application context. Hackers use this knowledge to embed malicious content in the XML documents that pass straight through the WSM software to the service interface of the application.


More Stories By Nickolaos Kavantzas

Nickolaos Kavantzas is a Web services architect at Oracle working in the Oracle Application Server core infrastructure group. He is the architect of the Web Services Choreography Language and the lead editor of the Web Services Choreography Language in the W3C Choreography Working Group. Currently, he is designing Oracle's Web Services Orchestration/Choreography framework.

More Stories By Mohamad Afshar

Mohamad Afshar, PhD, is VP of Product Management at Oracle. He has product management responsibilities for Oracle's middleware portfolio and is part of the team driving Oracle's investments in SOA on Application Grid - which brings together SOA and data grid technologies to ensure predictable low latency for SOA applications. Prior to joining Oracle, he founded Apama, a complex event processing vendor acquired by Progress Software. He has a PhD in Parallel Systems from Cambridge University, where he built a system for processing massive data sets using a MapReduce framework.

More Stories By Ramana Turlapati

Ramana Turlapati is a consulting member of the technical staff at Oracle with 12 years of industry experience. In his current role as the security architect for Oracle Web Services Manager, he contributes to Oracle's overall Web Services security strategies and solutions.

More Stories By Roger Goudarzi

Roger Goudarzi is a senior software architect at Arkasoft, LLC, currently consulting with Fortify Software. He has more than 15 years of experience building multi-tiered software applications and a BS from Imperial College, London.

More Stories By Barmak Meftah

Barmak Meftah, vice-president of engineering at Fortify Software, has more than 15 years of experience in enterprise software development and product management with acknowledged industry leaders. He joined Fortify from Sychron, where he was vice-president of engineering and product management. Meftah previously spent seven years at Oracle overseeing the delivery of the Oracle Database for the Windows Server family.

More Stories By Prakash Yamuna

Prakash Yamuna is a principal member of Oracle's technical staff, working on Oracle Web Services Manager. His current focus is on policy management and security within SOAs.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Business Integration Architecture & Technology 06/20/06 09:03:51 PM EDT

Trackback Added: SOA Security - What are the Threats? ; A good approach for defining SOA security is to consider first what are the threats? By defining the treats you can identify the best way to protect your services.

SOA Web Services Journal News 06/20/06 08:19:52 AM EDT

Service-Oriented Architectures offer a number of potential benefits: They can provide new opportunities to connect enterprises with customers, partners, and suppliers; improve efficiency through greater reuse of services across the enterprise; and offer greater flexibility by breaking down IT silos. But these benefits make security more critical than ever. Why? Services are highly distributed, multi-owner, deployed to heterogeneous platforms, and often accessible across departments and enterprises - and this creates major security issues for developers, architects, and security and operations professionals. Fortunately, there are ways to make your SOA more secure. If you're building applications to SOA using J2EE, BPEL, or XML, you can build security into an SOA by addressing security throughout the entire application lifecycle - not just at deployment time.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
"We've discovered that after shows 80% if leads that people get, 80% of the conversations end up on the show floor, meaning people forget about it, people forget who they talk to, people forget that there are actual business opportunities to be had here so we try to help out and keep the conversations going," explained Jeff Mesnik, Founder and President of ContentMX, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) and Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) have entered into a definitive agreement under which Verizon will acquire Yahoo's operating business for approximately $4.83 billion in cash, subject to customary closing adjustments. Yahoo informs, connects and entertains a global audience of more than 1 billion monthly active users** -- including 600 million monthly active mobile users*** through its search, communications and digital content products. Yahoo also co...
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
The best-practices for building IoT applications with Go Code that attendees can use to build their own IoT applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Indraneel Mitra, Senior Solutions Architect & Technology Evangelist at Cognizant, provided valuable information and resources for both novice and experienced developers on how to get started with IoT and Golang in a day. He also provided information on how to use Intel Arduino Kit, Go Robotics API and AWS IoT stack to build an application tha...
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
It’s 2016: buildings are smart, connected and the IoT is fundamentally altering how control and operating systems work and speak to each other. Platforms across the enterprise are networked via inexpensive sensors to collect massive amounts of data for analytics, information management, and insights that can be used to continuously improve operations. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Chemel, Co-Founder and CTO of Digital Lumens, will explore: The benefits sensor-networked systems bring to ...
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet a...