Many applications today possess critical vulnerabilities – SQL injections (SQLi), Cross Site Scripting (XSS) and Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF) being just a few of them. The first step in combating these security issues is getting to know how they work and learning about them from real life scenarios. Unfortunately, not all developers today are familiar with the security aspects of software development.
Morning Star Security and Security Focus are content hubs dedicated to information security, offering extensive coverage of newly found vulnerabilities and information about the latest developments. But InfoSec professionals also need technical research centers for reference and training purposes.
The following article covers the top 8 research centers where InfoSec professionals can access and utilize the most comprehensive coverage of today’s most glaring security vulnerabilities and issues.
1 – The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP)
Best suited for: General and professional reference; Security training and research.
Also known in inner circles as “Information Security’s Wikipedia”, this is the most comprehensive option for InfoSec professionals who want to educate themselves about today’s leading threats. It’s also important to mention that OWASP is a non-profit organization aiming to minimize application security risks worldwide.
The OWASP Top-10 list lets even casual readers get familiar with the top application layer vulnerabilities plaguing today’s software. There is also a Top 10 Mobile Risks list to raise awareness about the growing dangers of using vulnerable mobile applications. OWASP also offers a Cheat Sheet Series to provide dedicated information on InfoSec issues.
2013 OWASP Mobile Top-10 Vulnerabilities. Courtesy: OWASP.
OWASP has the edge over the rest of the pack because it works with vendors, consultants and industry experts who contribute their invaluable experience and know-how to the cause. The website offers unparalleled insights into vulnerabilities and even grades them annually to give the users a feel for the latest hacking and malware trends.
2 – SANS – Information Security Resources
Best suited for: General and professional reference; Security training.
The SANS Institute, a cooperative research and education organization, has been active since 1989. Its educational resources have been used by over 165,000 InfoSec professionals all over the world. This ever-evolving platform is supported by leading InfoSec professionals who contribute their know-how for the benefit of the community.
SANS currently boasts more than 2250 downloadable research papers and updates on the various security flaws. The Reading Room has over 75,000 monthly visitors. SANS also allows vendors and private organizations to contribute and publish whitepapers/datasheets that help bolster the informative profile of the research center.
3 – MITRE – Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE)
Best suited for: General and professional reference; Security training.
MITRE is an American non-profit organization that deals with security in various industrial sectors. Its dedicated CVE platform deals exclusively with information and application security. This website is arguably not as feature rich as the OWASP portal, but has complete documentation of vulnerabilities and reported security issues.
This public InfoSec research center also provides educational material and sheds light on various InfoSec related events taking place across the globe. The CVE platform also covers firewalls and other intrusion detection solutions available in the market today. It is a reliable platform for professional reference and training purposes.
MITRE has also established a close professional relationship with the US National Vulnerability Database (NVD). This allows the website content to be in-sync with today’s newest vulnerabilities and allows the cross-checking of various issues if needed. Maximum effort is made to merge or split issues according to the developments.
4 – CVE Details
Best suited for: General reference; Vulnerability research and study.
If you are looking to check vendors, products and software versions, the CVE Details portal can be the ideal solution for your needs. The website also has a unique grading system (CVSS Score) that rates the vulnerabilities according to severity and infection probability. All this is based on data from the US National Vulnerability Database (NVD).
The CVE Details database is more technically oriented and requires the user to have previous technical know-how. Navigation around the website is complicated and it takes some time to get used to the relatively complex user-interface. While it can take some time to get acclimated to this resource center, it is a formidable InfoSec research center.
5 – Exploit Database
Best suited for: Security and Pen-Tester training; Vulnerability research.
The Exploit Database is another CVE based research center containing information about publicly reported exploits and also data about vulnerable applications/software. While it doesn’t contain advisories and editorial content, users can find a comprehensive database of exploits and other technical information.
This repository offers added value in the form of proof-of-concepts (POCs) and vulnerable application versions. Pen testers and security experts can then convert these to a working real-life exploits for their personal use. Other databases mentioned in this research are arguably more comprehensive, but don’t offer this advanced functionality.
Complete POC of an issue with the unique “Exploit Code” option. Courtesy: Exploit-db.com
The website also allows security experts and developers to share their knowledge with each other. The portal has a section dedicated to security papers and articles, hundreds of which have already been published. Also, Google hackings are covered and arranged into categories (sensitive directories, vulnerable files, etc) for easy and quick navigation.
6 – Web Application Security Consortium (WASC)
Best suited for: Reference purposes; General reading.
This is another non-profit organization dedicated to educating developers and software professionals about information and application security. Just like the OWASP resource center, the WASC portal gets its input from professionals and experts from all around the world, who can also participate in WASC related activities for free.
While it’s hard to point at a stand-out feature in this resource center, WASC offers a highly customizable RSS feed that lets the user select what exactly he wants delivered to his inbox on a regular basis. This system is optimized for people from the InfoSec circle who want to be informed about the latest exploits and newly exposed vulnerabilities.
Static Analysis Technologies Evaluation Criteria (SATEC) is a dedicated InfoSec database run by WASC. This includes a Web Security Glossary, Web Hacking incidents database and also a WASC Threat Classification section.
7 – WPScan Vulnerability Database
Best suited for: WordPress user reference; WordPress developers.
WordPress is the world’s most commonly used Content Management System (CMS). Based on PHP and MySQL, it includes plugin architecture and a template system. Unfortunately, Checkmarx’s Security State of WordPress Top 50 Plugins research showed that 7 out of the 10 most popular e-commerce plugins contain loopholes.
Checkmarx CTO Maty Siman talking about WordPress Vulnerabilities.
The WPScan Vulnerability Database is dedicated entirely to vulnerabilities found in the WordPress platform. All aspects of this content management platform are covered in this informatory. The issues are divided into sections for easy navigation – Plugin vulnerabilities, Theme vulnerabilities and Latest vulnerabilities for quick reference.
Users interested in interacting with each other and be active in InfoSec communities have a couple of options as well:
- Information Security Stack Exchange – This is a dynamic interactive platform that deals with the various security issues in the software industry. Active users with useful input are rewarded with badges (the most committed users get the Gold one), a system that promotes sharing activity.
- NetSec – Reddit regulars interested in following the latest developments in the InfoSec world can try this feed. While not “tech-heavy” like the other research centers mentioned in this article, NetSec can quench the thirst of InfoSec enthusiasts on-the-go, while also letting them to comment on topics of interest.
With the exponential rise in cybercrime and hackings, it’s important to raise security awareness and share InfoSec knowledge. All of the InfoSec research centers mentioned in this article have their unique characteristics and purposes. But there is a platform for everyone – casual readers, developers and InfoSec professionals.
Checkmarx highly recommends bookmarking atleast a few of the aforementioned research centers and encourages you to spread the InfoSec awareness within your circles.