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10/11/2006
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New Technique Promises To Speed Up Bug Discovery In Applications

Beyond Security is using a hacker method called "fuzzing." The idea is to take a certain request--between a Web browser and server, for example--and modify it so that it's slightly different from what one side expects.

Beyond Security is using a common hacker technique to help software developers and testers weed out glitches in applications that could later become the target of exploits.

The idea behind the technique, called "fuzzing," is to take a certain requestbetween a Web browser and server, for exampleand modify it so that it's slightly different from what one side expects. Although time-consuming, fuzzing can yield interesting results that point to security vulnerabilities, causing servers to crash or applications to provide access to unauthorized users, said Aviram Jenik, CEO of Beyond Security, McLean, Va.

With the mid-September release of beStorm 2.0, Beyond Security is introducing 'smart' black-box testing, which begins by fuzzing a small group of known attack vectors in order to speed up the process of finding the majority of undiscovered vulnerabilities, Jenik said.

"This method can give you an idea or metric to measure what your risks are. You can run the test inside an hour to give you a rough idea of what vulnerabilities exist," Jenik said.

The technique is especially suited to testing devices with limited processing power such as printers and VoIP phones, he added.

Once this initial phase is completed, beStorm then attempts to fuzz every combination within a protocol in order to find unknown vulnerabilities, Jenik said. For example, with FTP, there are 10 million testing scenarios that are valid within the protocol, he said. "You're not drilling for oil, but covering the whole area and checking the whole application, which is what you want if you're the 'good guy' and want to uncover all vulnerabilities," Jenik said.

Brandon Buhai, COO at Beyond IP, a Chicago-based solution provider, said Beyond Security has built a lot of automation into its technology, but not at the expense of accuracy. "At the end of the day, you're able to eradicate all vulnerabilities and stop things like backdoors and intruders from getting on the network," he said.

Beyond Security currently packages beStorm as Windows server software but plans to eventually target VARs and integrators with a plug-and-play appliance, Jenik said. "You could plug in particular protocols or applications you wanted to test, and this could become part of the life-cycle management of the various protocol tests that you run," he said.

Pricing starts at $7,500.

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