Web applications play a vital role in every modern organization. But, if your organization does not properly test and secure its web apps, adversaries can compromise these applications, damage business functionality, and steal data. Unfortunately, many organizations operate under the mistaken impression that a web application security scanner will reliably discover flaws in their systems.
SEC542 helps students move beyond push-button scanning to professional, thorough, high-value web application penetration testing.
Customers expect web applications to provide significant functionality and data access. Even beyond the importance of customer-facing web applications, internal web applications increasingly represent the most commonly used business tools within any organization. Unfortunately, there is no "patch Tuesday" for custom web applications, so major industry studies find that web application flaws play a major role in significant breaches and intrusions. Adversaries increasingly focus on these high-value targets either by directly abusing public-facing applications or by focusing on web apps as targets after an initial break-in.
Modern cyber defense requires a realistic and thorough understanding of web application security issues. Anyone can learn to sling a few web hacks, but effective web application penetration testing requires something deeper.
SEC542 enables students to assess a web application's security posture and convincingly demonstrate the impact of inadequate security that plagues most organizations.
Students will come to understand major web application flaws and their exploitation and, most importantly, learn a field-tested and repeatable process to consistently find these flaws and convey what they have learned to their organizations. Even technically gifted security geeks often struggle with helping organizations understand risk in terms relatable to business. Much of the art of penetration testing has less to do with learning how adversaries are breaking in than it does with convincing an organization to take the risk seriously and employ appropriate countermeasures. The goal of SEC542 is to better secure organizations through penetration testing, and not just show off hacking skills. The course will help you demonstrate the true impact of web application flaws through exploitation.
In addition to high-quality course content, SEC542 focuses heavily on in-depth, hands-on labs to ensure that students can immediately apply all they learn.
In addition to more than 30 formal hands-on labs, the course culminates in a web application pen test tournament, powered by the SANS NetWars Cyber Range. This Capture the Flag event on the final day brings students into teams to apply their newly acquired command of web application penetration testing techniques in a fun way to hammer home lessons learned.
SEC542.1: Introduction and Information Gathering
Understanding the attacker's perspective is key to successful web application penetration testing. The course begins by thoroughly examining web technology, including protocols, languages, clients, and server architectures, from the attacker's perspective. We also examine different authentication systems, including Basic, Digest, Forms, and Windows Integrated authentication, and discuss how servers use them and attackers abuse them. After authentication, we analyze the importance of encryption and HTTPS. Before leaving HTTPS, we dive into the infamous Heartbleed flaw and get our first taste of exploitation with a hands-on lab.
We then turn to the four steps that make up our process for conducting web application penetration tests: reconnaissance, mapping, discovery, and exploitation. On the first day, we review the fundamental principles of each phase and discuss how penetration testers can use them together as a cyclical in-depth attack process. We then cover the types of penetration testing and what pieces need to be part of a thorough, high-value pen test report. To complete the course day, we explore aspects of a vulnerable web application using Burp Suite.
CPE/CMU Credits: 6
SEC542.2: Configuration, Identity, and Authentication Testing
The second day begins with the reconnaissance and mapping phases of a web app penetration test. Reconnaissance includes gathering publicly available information regarding the target application and organization, identifying the machines that support our target application, and building a profile of each server, including the operating system, specific software, and configuration. The discussion is underscored through several practical, hands-on labs in which we conduct reconnaissance against in-class targets.
In the mapping phase, we build a map or diagram of the application's pages and features. This phase involves identifying the components, analyzing the relationship between them, and determining how the pieces work together. We often discover configuration flaws in web application infrastructure components during the mapping phase. After discussion of these types of flaws, we use the Shellshock vulnerability as an opportunity to get deeper hands-on experience with Burp Suite, cURL, and manual exploitation techniques. We then dive deep into spidering/crawling web applications. Spidering represents a vital part of both the mapping phase and the overall penetration test.
CPE/CMU Credits: 6
This section continues to explore our methodology with the discovery phase. We build on the information identified during the mapping phase, exploring methods to find and verify vulnerabilities within the application. Students also begin to explore the interactions between the various vulnerabilities.
This course day dives deeply into vital manual testing techniques for vulnerability discovery. To facilitate manual testing, we kick off the day with an introduction to Python and a hands-on lab working with it.
In addition to custom scripts, we focus on developing in-depth knowledge of interception proxies for web application vulnerability discovery. A highlight of the day involves spending significant time working with both traditional and blind SQL injection flaws.
Throughout the discovery phase, we will explore both manual and automated methods of discovering vulnerabilities within applications and discuss the circumstances under which each is appropriate.
CPE/CMU Credits: 6
SEC542.4: XXE and XSS
On day four, students continue exploring the discovery phase of the methodology. We cover methods to discover key vulnerabilities within web applications, such as Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) and Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF/XSRF). Manual discovery methods are employed during hands-on labs.
The course day will also include a detailed discussion of AJAX as we explore how it enlarges the attack surface leveraged by penetration testers. We also analyze how AJAX is affected by other vulnerabilities already covered in depth earlier in the course.
After detailing the various vulnerabilities and manual discovery methods, day four concludes with a review of various automated web application vulnerability scanners, to complement our previous coverage of manual techniques with scripting, ZAP, and the Burp Suite.
CPE/CMU Credits: 6
SEC542.5: CSRF, Logic Flaws and Advanced Tools
On the fifth day, we launch actual exploits against real-world applications, building on the previous three steps, expanding our foothold within the application, and extending it to the network on which it resides. As penetration testers, we specifically focus on ways to leverage previously discovered vulnerabilities to gain further access, highlighting the cyclical nature of the four-step attack methodology.
During our exploitation phase, we expand our use of tools such as ZAP and the Burp Suite, and complement them with further use of sqlmap, BeEF, the Browser Exploitation Framework, and Metasploit to help craft exploits against various web applications. We launch SQL injection, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), and Cross-Site Request Forgery attacks, amongst others. In class we exploit these flaws to perform data theft, hijack sessions, steal passwords, get shells, pivot against connected networks, and much more. Through various forms of exploitation, the student gains a keen understanding of the potential business impact of these flaws to an organization.
CPE/CMU Credits: 6
SEC542.6: Capture the Flag
On day six, students form teams and compete in a web application penetration testing tournament. This NetWars-powered Capture the Flag exercise provides students an opportunity to wield their newly developed or further honed skills to answer questions, complete missions, and exfiltrate data, applying skills gained throughout the course. The style of challenge and integrated hint system allows students of various skill levels to both enjoy a game environment and solidify the skills learned in class.
CPE/CMU Credits: 6
Who Should Attend
SEC542 assumes students have a basic working knowledge of the Linux command line.
What You Will Receive
You Will Be Able To
SANS SEC542 employs hands-on labs throughout the course to further students' understanding of web application penetration concepts. Some of the many hands-on labs in the course include: