Saturday, December 27, 2014

ITPalooza Kanban and Continuous Delivery presentation

This was definitely a great event to share Kanban and Continuous delivery experiences with other agile practitioners in South Florida. I thank IT Palooza and the South Florida Agile Association for the opportunity.

Friday, December 26, 2014

On security: news without validation - The case of ntpd for MAC OSX

It is a shame that even Hacker News reported as many many others inaccurate information about the recent several NTP vulnerabilties affecting the ntpd daemon in *NIX systems.

Apple computers are not patched automatically if the users do not select to do so, a feature that was added with Yosemite so most likely not even available in many MACs in use out there.

Sysadmins should be encouraged to reach out their user base so the MACs are patched. As a difference with Ubuntu and other linux distros where most likely ntpdate is being used to synchronize time in MACs the ntpd daemon is used. Yes, this is not just a server issue when it comes to MAC OS-X.

BTW back to ntpd vulnerabilities. Follow apple instructions for correct remediation. As explained there 'what /usr/sbin/ntpd' should be run to check the proprietary OSX ntpd version.

What is interesting here is that 'ntpd --version' still returns 4.2.6 after the patch which according to the official ntpd distribution communication does not contain the patch. Version 4.2.8 does.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Do you practice careful and serious reading?

Do you practice careful and serious reading? This is the ultimate question I have come to ask when someone claims to have read the book and clearly I find out s(he) meant to say "eyes went" instead of "mind went" through the content of the book. There is a difference between "becoming familiar" and "digesting" a topic.

When you carefully read a book you take notes. I personally do not like to highlight books as the highlighters I have seen so far as of December 2014 will literally ruin the book. I think taking notes not only help with deep understanding of the content but ultimately it becomes a great summary for further "quick reference".

When you seriously read a book you know what you disagree and agree upon, you are not in a sofa distracted by familiar sounds. You are in a quite space, fully concentrated in receiving a message, processing the message and coming up with your own conclusions, questions and ultimately must importantly answers to the unknown which now suddenly becomes part of your personal wisdom.

It is discouraging to sustain a debate around a book content when there is not careful and serious reading. In my opinion "reading" when it comes to a specific subject matter means "studying" and of course you can only claim you have studied a subject if you have carefully and seriously read the related material. Seeing a book is not the same as looking into a book. Listening to an audio book content is not the same as hearing it.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

How to SVN diff local agaist newer revision of item

From command line I would expect that a simple 'svn diff local/path/to/resource' will provide differences between local copy and subversion server copy. However that is not a case as a special '-r HEAD' needs to be added to the command instead. Here is how to add an alias for 'svndiff' so that you can get the differences:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

NodeJS https to https proxy for transitions to Single Page applications like AngularJS SPA

If you are working on a migration from classical web sites to Single Page Applications (SPA) you will find yourself dealing with a domain where all the code lives, mixed technologies for which you are forced to run the backend server and bunch of inconveniences like applying database migrations or redeploying backend code.

You should be able to develop the SPA locally though and consume the APIs remotely but you probably do not want to allow cross domain requests or even separate the application in two different domains.

A reverse proxy should help you big time. With a reverse proxy you can concentrate on just developing your SPA bits locally while hitting the existing API remotely and yet being able to remotely deploy the app when ready. All you need to do is detect where the SPA is running and route through the local proxy the API requests.

Node http-proxy can be used to create an https-to-https proxy as presented below:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Adding ppid to ps aux

The usual way BSD style ps command is used does not return the parent process id (ppid). To add it you need to use the "o" option as follows:

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Is your bank or favorite online shop insecure? You are entitled to act as a conscious user

UPDATE: A+ should be your target now.

Is your bank of favorite online shop insecure? You are entitled to act as a conscious user. How?

The first thing any company out there should do with their systems is to make sure that traffic between the customer and the service provider is strongly encrypted. All you need to do is to visit this SSL Server Test, insert the URL for the site and expect the results.

If you do not get an A (right now *everybody* is vulnerable to latest Poodle strike so expect to see a B as the best case scenario) you should be concerned. If you get a C or lower please immediately contact the service provider demanding they correct their encryption problems.

Be specially wary of those who have eliminated their websites from SSL Labs. Security *just* by Obscurity does not work!!!

Monday, December 08, 2014

Libreoffice and default Microsoft Excel 1900 Date System

The custom date in format m/d/yy is not formatted in libreoffice but instead a number is shown. This number corresponds to the serial day starting at January, 1 1900. So 5 will correspond to 1905. But there is a leap year bug for which a correction needs to be made (if (serialNumber > 59) serialNumber -= 1) as you can see in action in this runnable.

So if you convert excel to CSV for example and you get a number instead of an expected date, go to that Excel file from the libreoffice GUI and convert a cell to Date to see if the output makes sense as a date. At that point, convinced that those are indeed dates all you need to do is apply the algorithm to the numbers to convert them to dates in the resulting CSV.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

On Strict-Transport-Security: Protecting your app starts by protecting your users

Protecting your app starts by protecting your users. There are several HTTP headers you should already be using in your web apps but one usually overlooked is Strict-Transport-Security

This header ensures that the browser will refuse to connect if there is a certificate problem like in an invalid certificate presented by a MIM attack coming from a malware in a user's computer. Without this header the user will be giving away absolutely all "secure" traffic to the attacker. Additionally this header will make sure the browser uses only https protocol which means no insecure/unencrypted/plain text communication happens with the server.

The motivation for not using this header could be to allow mixing insecure content in your pages or to allow using self signed certificates in non production servers. I believe such motivation is dangerous when you consider the risk. Your application will be more secure if you address security in the backend and in the front end, the same way you should do validations in the front end and the backend.

Friday, December 05, 2014

On risk management: Do you practice Continuous Web Application Security?

Do you practice Continuous Web Application Security? Continuously delivering software should include security. Just like with backup-restore tests this is a a very important topic, usually overlooked.

Here is an affordable practical proposal for continuous web application security:
  1. Have a Ubuntu Desktop (I personally like to see what is going on when it comes to the UI related testing) with your end to end (E2E) platform of choice running on it.
  2. From your continous integration (CI) of choice hit (remotely) a local runner that triggers your automated E2E test suite against your application URL. I strongly believe that E2E concerns belong to whoever is in charge of developing the UX/UI.
  3. E2E tests should open your browse of preference and you should be able to *see* what is going on in the browser.
  4. A proxy based passive scanner like zaproxy should be installed. Below is how to install it from sources:
  5. If you want to start the proxy with a user interface so you can look into the history of found vulnerabilities through a nice UI and assuming you installed it from the recipe then run it as '/opt/zap/' or if you get issues with your display like it happened to me while using xrdp with 'ssh -X localhost /opt/zap/'.
  6. In order to proxy all requests from chrome we need to follow the below steps.
    • From zap proxy menu export the Root CA certificate using "Tools | Options | Dynamic SSL Certificates | Save"
    • From Chrome settings search for "certificate", click "Manage Certificates | Authorities | Import | All Files"; select the exported cer file and select "trust his certificate for identifying websites"
    • Your E2E runner must be started after you run the below commands because the browser should be started after these commands in order to use the proxy.
      export http_proxy=localhost:8080
      export https_proxy=localhost:8080
    • To stop the proxy and resume E2E without it, we just need to reset the two variables and restart the E2E runner.

    LEGACY 12.04: For the proxy to get the traffic from chrome you need to configure the ubuntu system proxy with the commands below. All traffic will now go through the zaproxy. If you want to turn the proxy off just run the first command. To turn it on run just the second but run them all if you are unsure about the current configuration. This is a machine where you just run automated tests so it is expected that you run no browser manually there BTW and that is the reason I forward all the http traffic through the proxy:
  7. Every time your tests run you will be collecting data about possible vulnerabilities
  8. You could go further now and inspect the zaproxy results via the REST API consuming JSON or XML in your CI pipeline in fact stopping whole deployments from happening. You can take a less radical approach and get the information in plain HTML. Below for example we extract all the alerts in HTML obtained while passively browsing It is assumed that you have run '/opt/zap/ -daemon' which allows to access from http:/zap base URL the REST API:
  9. If you want to access this API from outside the box you will need to run '/opt/zap/ -daemon -host -p 8081' however keep in mind the poor security available for this api.
  10. Do not forget to restart the proxy after vulnerabilities are fixed or stop and start it automatically before the tests are run so you effectively collect the latest vulnerabilities only
  11. Your CI might have a plugin for active scanning (See or not. Starting an active scanning automatically should be easy.
Warning: Make sure you never use the environment we have described here to go through sites that are not those you are testing. Remember that you have added the OWASP root certificate to your browser which means other people having the same certificate could do a number of nasty things with a user working behind this browser setup.

Congratulations. You have just added continuous web application security to your SDLC.

How to parse any valid date format in Talend?

How to parse any valid date format in Talend? This is a question that comes up every so often and the simple answer is that there is not plain simple way that will work for everybody. Valid dates format depend on locale and if you are in the middle of a project supporting multiple countries and languages YMMV.

You will need to use Talend routines. For example you can create a stringToDate() custom method. In its simpler form (considering you are tackling just one locale) you will pass just a String a parameter (not the locale). You will need to add the formats you will allow like you see in the function below. The class and the main method are just for testing purposes and you can see it in action here. These days is so much easier to share snippets of code that actually run ;-)

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Are your web security scanners good enough?

Are your web security scanners good enough? Note that use plural here as there is no silver bullet. There is no such thing as the perfect security tool.

More than two years ago I posted a self starting guide to get into penetration testing which brought some interest for some talks, consultancy hours and good friends. Not much have been changed until last month when in the Google Security Blog we learned that a new tool called Firing Range was been open sourced. I said to myself "finally we have a test bed for web application security scanners" and then the next question immediately popped up "Are the web security scanners I normally use good enough at detecting these well known vulnerabilities?". I would definitely like to get feedback private or public about tool results. For now I have asked 4 different open sourced tools about the plans to enhance their scanners so they can detect vulnerabilities like the ones Firing Range exposes. My tests so far are telling me that I need to look for other scanners as these 4 do not detect the exposed vulnerabilities. I have posted a comment to the Google post but it has not been authorized so far. I was after responding the main question in this post but then I realized that probably if everyone out there run their tests against their tools (free or paid) we could gather some information about those that are doing a better job as we speak in terms of finding Firing Range vulnerabilities. Here is the list of my questions so far:
  1. Can anybody share results (bad or good) about web application scanners running against Firing Range?
  2. Can anybody share other test bed softwares (similar to Firing Range) they are currently using, perhaps a cool honey pot for other to further test scanners?
  3. Skipfish:
  4. Nikto: I is a Web Server Scanner and not a Web Application Scanner
  5. w3af:
  6. ZAP: