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7/31/2007
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Tool Stops XSS, SQL Injection Attacks

Core Labs researchers to release free tool to protect PHP-based Web apps

LAS VEGAS -- Black Hat USA -- A pair of researchers here this week will release a Web application security tool that blocks SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks on the fly.

Core Security Technologies's Core Labs researchers Ezequiel Gutesman and Ariel Waissbein will demonstrate the tool -- specifically for PHP-based Web applications -- during their Black Hat session, "A Dynamic Technique for Enhancing the Security and Privacy of Web Applications," here on Thursday.

Ivan Arce, CTO of Core Security, says the tool, called GRASP, blocks attacks using a run-time "taint analysis" technique that examines the application's data and doesn’t require any rewriting of the app's code. "It's not easy to fix all the bugs" in a Web application, Arce says. The tool works at the "byte level," so Web developers don't have to change the source code for each application, he says.

"As far as we know, there's nothing like this for PHP," he says. "There are so many PHP applications out there that are riddled with vulnerabilities, so we looked at PHP first."

Core has no plans to productize the tool, nor to extend it to other Web development platforms. But the same concepts can be applied to protecting apps on platforms other than PHP, Arce says. "It sees changes to the PHP engine. It blocks [activity] that's not allowed."

Arce says the new tool is different from typical penetration testing tools because it's attached to the executable environment itself. "It's a defensive technology for PHP-based Web applications."

GRASP analyzes how attacks behave, logs them, and blocks unauthorized operations. It's more powerful than Web application firewalls, which use signatures to block known exploits and often generate false positives, Arce says.

"We [want] people in the community to pick this tool up and deploy it in their Web environments to protect their PHP applications," Arce says. "It's also a tool to research Web app security, too... to spot weaknesses in your application or to identify attack vectors."

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

  • Core Security Technologies
  • Black Hat Inc. Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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