Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Stackify Blog, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Machine Learning , Java IoT, Microsoft Cloud

Machine Learning : Article

AJAX Book Recommendation: "Ajax Security" by Hoffman and Sullivan

If you call yourself a professional web developer, you need this book

Brian Dilllard's "Ajile Ajax" Blog

Reviewers overuse the phrase "required reading," but no other description fits the new book "Ajax Security" (2007, Addison Wesley, 470p). This exhaustive tome from Billy Hoffman and Bryan Sullivan places the specific security concerns of the Ajax programming model in historical perspective. It demonstrates not only new security threats that are unique to Ajax, but established threats that have gained new traction in the Web 2.0 era. It then details both the specific technical solutions and - more importantly - the mindset that are necessary to combat such threats. If you call yourself a professional web developer, you need this book.

Because so many developers have historically overlooked the importance of security, the authors approach their topic for what it is: a remedial subject. They take pains to explain the basic mechanisms by which hackers have exploited insecure web applications over the last decade: cross-site request forgeries, denial of service attacks, cross-site scripting and SQL injection. Then they explain how those mechanisms have changed thanks to the rise of xmlHttpRequest, public APIs, mash-ups and aggregators. If you've ever read a Douglas Crockford rant about the "brokenness" of the web security model and wondered why the guy was such an alarmist, Hoffman and Sullivan are only too happy to provide you with a much-needed wake-up call.

"Ajax Security" is written in a clear, direct style that mixes compelling narrative examples with both high-level technical discussions and granular programming how-tos. The authors even fashion Chapter 2, "The Heist," into a miniature techno-thriller, walking us through a day in the life of a fictitious hacker named Eve who practically cackles like a "Mission: Impossible" villain when she discovers the holes in an Ajax web app. The book's mixture of intro-level concepts, real-world analogies and advanced code examples should be jarring, but isn't, thanks to its conversational tone. "Ajax Security" should therefore prove useful to a broad range of readers:

  • Developers who either have failed to develop a working knowledge of application security, or whose knowledge has become outdated after recent technological advances.
  • Security professionals who haven't kept pace with the rapidly evolving world of Ajax and other client-side technologies.
  • Technology managers who need to understand the risks as well as the rewards of the new technologies their engineers are pitching.
  • Business users who seek a better understanding of the technologies that power the web and how they can be exploited for malicious ends.

In order to serve all of these readers, "Ajax Security" spends a few chapters establishing the basics of traditional web security. It's worth slogging through these chapters even if you think you're a hardened veteran. The authors get to their central thesis pretty quickly, during a discussion of the "attack surface" of Ajax applications:

In a nutshell, the attack surface of an Ajax application is essentially the complete attack surface of a traditional Web application plus the complete attack surface of a Web service.... Where are all the secret attacks that can instantly destroy any Ajax application? For better or worse, there aren't any. If just being sure to defend against a particular attack was all there was to Ajax security, then this would be a pretty short book.... [D]efending an Ajax application is really just like defending both a Web application and a Web service - all at the same time. This is the price you must pay for expanding the functionality of your site.

Once Hoffman and Sullivan have spelled out this mission statement, the book kicks into high gear with chapters on the business-logic transparency of Ajax applications; the security vulnerabilities of JavaScript, JSON and even CSS; the risk of client-side storage and offline frameworks; and the security considerations of mashups and aggregator sites. I could fill an entire month's worth of blog posts with all of the individual tools, techniques and surprising facts in this book. Here's a random sampling:

  • XHR requests that return raw query results as JSON- or XML-formatted data can make classic SQL injection attacks almost effortless.
  • Offline frameworks such as Google Gears can store sensitive data on user machines without providing a GUI for ever purging that data. When a Gears-enabled web app isn't sufficiently locked down, this increases the user's vulnerability considerably.
  • Public APIs can provide a trojan horse in which an attacker bypasses a web service's built-in security features by posing as or piggybacking on a trusted API consumer.
  • JavaScript is hardly the only vector of attack against Ajax applications. CSS files can expose a host of their own unique vulnerabilities. Image paths in global CSS files can reveal the locations of hidden administrative interfaces, while CSS hijacking can enable phishing scams called "look and feel hacks."

Messrs. Sullivan and Hoffman do more than simply list the vulnerabilities of the Ajax programming model. They also conduct hands-on research into the ways existing companies leverage Ajax and offer advice about how to learn from their mistakes. Consider the following three examples:

Review continues on the next page...

More Stories By Brian J. Dillard

Brian J. Dillard joined Pathfinder Development in August 2007 as RIA Evangelist. After 12 years of focusing on the view layer of large consumer web apps, his role at Pathfinder Associates is one of research, development and ongoing commentary. He prototypes new rich UI features; contributes to open-source and client projects; and otherwise helps build Pathfinder's competency in the AJAX world. Along with Pathfinder CTO Dietrich Kappe, Dillard contributes to the 'Agile Ajax' blog (http://blogs.pathf.com/agileajax). He is also the project lead on Really Simple History, a JavaScript library for AJAX bookmark and back-button management.

Comments (0)

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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists looked at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deliver...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), provided an overview of various initiatives to certify the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldwide re...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists examined how DevOps helps to meet the de...
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, discussed some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and related how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material was delivered interac...
The Internet giants are fully embracing AI. All the services they offer to their customers are aimed at drawing a map of the world with the data they get. The AIs from these companies are used to build disruptive approaches that cannot be used by established enterprises, which are threatened by these disruptions. However, most leaders underestimate the effect this will have on their businesses. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rene Buest, Director Market Research & Technology Evangelism at Ara...
When growing capacity and power in the data center, the architectural trade-offs between server scale-up vs. scale-out continue to be debated. Both approaches are valid: scale-out adds multiple, smaller servers running in a distributed computing model, while scale-up adds fewer, more powerful servers that are capable of running larger workloads. It’s worth noting that there are additional, unique advantages that scale-up architectures offer. One big advantage is large memory and compute capacity...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We’re in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn’t been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. Will this time be different? Most likely. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Furthermore, the funding and research going into AI now comes from a wide range of com...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Int\ernational Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their ...
We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ayehu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara California. Ayehu provides IT Process Automation & Orchestration solutions for IT and Security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infras...