A Guide to the OWASP Projects for Developers

Data breaches from vulnerable applications make frequent headlines. Developers must prioritize securing apps, but often don’t know where to start. The non-profit OWASP Foundation aims to help developers build apps more securely through open-source tools and guidelines.

OWASP’s most popular offerings raise awareness of risks, provide developer guidelines, establish application security requirements, supply testing methodology and help benchmark internal security practices. These resources are interconnected to take you from identifying risks all the way through remediating them by improving development lifecycles.

OWASP Top 10 Risks

The OWASP Top 10 provides awareness for the application security risks facing organizations across industries. It helps identify the most critical vulnerabilities for web applications based on prevalence and impact.

The OWASP Top 10 changes every few years based on data submitted and analyzed. The current list focuses on risks for web apps including:

  • Injection

  • Broken authentication

  • Sensitive data exposure

  • XML external entity (XXE)

  • Broken access control

  • Security misconfiguration

  • Cross-site scripting (XSS)

  • Insecure deserialization

  • Using components with known vulnerabilities

  • Insufficient logging and monitoring

The OWASP Top 10 informs other key projects. It helps set priorities for what coding practices, requirements and tests to establish.

OWASP Proactive Controls

While awareness of risks is useful, developers need specific guidance on mitigating them through secure coding practices. That’s where the OWASP Top 10 Proactive Controls comes in. It contains ten concrete activities mapped to counteracting the OWASP Top 10 risks, including:

The Proactive Controls provide a starting point for developers to build more secure apps. They map to more in-depth requirements contained in the OWASP Application Security Verification Standard (ASVS).

OWASP Application Security Verification Standard

The OWASP Application Security Verification Standard (ASVS) establishes detailed requirements across aspects of secure development to address risks from injection to insecure deserialization.

The ASVS contains sections aligned to mitigate risks in the OWASP Top 10. It helps developers build security into apps by providing requirements around:

  • Architecture

  • Authentication

  • Session management

  • Access control

  • Cryptography

  • Data validation

  • Error handling

It establishes three levels of requirements depending on if the application is low, medium or high sensitivity. This allows customization based on your organization’s risks. The ASVS sets a baseline all apps should meet with Level 1 requirements.

It also contains mappings to OWASP’s coding best practices for how to implement controls, found in the OWASP Cheat Sheet Series.

OWASP Cheat Sheet Series

The OWASP Cheat Sheet Series provides simplified implementation guidance on application security topics. These cheat sheets summarize the most important details and code snippets developers need to address vulnerabilities.

You’ll find tips on specific risks like cross-site scripting (XSS) and injection aligned to the OWASP Top 10. But there are also language-specific guides like securing Ruby on Rails.

With over 200 cheat sheets, developers have access to an extensive knowledge base. This helps simplify secure coding against numerous vulnerabilities.

Benchmark and Improve Security Practices with SAMM

While OWASP provides what to secure guidance, organizations also need support on how to implement security practices. The OWASP Software Assurance Maturity Model (SAMM) helps benchmark and guide improvements to internal software security practices.

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SAMM provides:

  • A model outlining activities for each security practice

  • Flexible paths for improvement based on risk tolerance

  • Methods for self-assessment and scoring maturity

It supports building out a robust Secure Software Development Life Cycle (SSDLC). SAMM helps kickstart conversations between security and development teams on improving practices in areas from governance to coding to testing. It allows organizations to develop a roadmap toward a higher capability SSDLC based on self-assessments.

OWASP Web Security Testing Guide

Testing is key for confirmation that controls are working appropriately before apps are deployed live. The OWASP Web Security Testing Guide (WSTG) provides methodologies for testing web apps aligned to risks covered in complementary OWASP projects.

This comprehensive testing framework helps those evaluating web application security ensure they are checking for pertinent risks, focused in the right areas. That includes both manual testers and those integrating automation into CI/CD pipelines.

It outlines techniques to test for weaknesses around:

  • Authentication

  • Authorization

  • Business logic

  • Input validation

  • Session management

  • Cryptography

  • Error handling

The OWASP WSTG provides structured tests mapped to risks in the OWASP Top 10 and controls in the OWASP ASVS. This allows testing activities to confirm proper implementation of security guidance.

Conclusion: Start Your Application Security Journey

This post outlined the most popular application security offerings provided by OWASP. These resources help developers, security professionals and testers work collaboratively to identify risks, remediate vulnerabilities, establish secure development practices and confirm defenses through testing.

Visit owasp.org to explore these projects and more in-depth. Get involved in the open-source community to share your expertise or get help advancing application security.

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Utilize the awareness, guidance, requirements, benchmarks and testing capacity from OWASP to advance secure software development lifecycles. Addressing risks through frameworks like OWASP Top 10 and controls in the Proactive Controls supported by standards like ASVS will lead to more secure applications long before deployment.

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