Software Uses Hacker Tactic To Find Security Vulnerabilities - InformationWeek
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10/20/2006
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Software Uses Hacker Tactic To Find Security Vulnerabilities

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

Know thy enemy and his methods. A security vendor is putting that philosophy to work by co-opting a common hacker technique to help software developers and testers weed out glitches in applications that could become targets of exploits.

The idea behind the technique, called fuzzing, is to take a certain request--between a Web browser and a server, for example--and modify it so that it's slightly different from what one side expects. Although time-consuming, fuzzing can point to security vulnerabilities that cause servers to crash or applications to provide access to unauthorized users, says Aviram Jenik, CEO of Beyond Security.

With last month's release of beStorm 2.0, Beyond Security is introducing "smart" black-box testing, which begins by running a small group of common fuzzing attack vectors and then uses a proprietary technique to extrapolate a larger group of vulnerabilities. Hackers often employ only slight variations on familiar fuzzing attacks.

The technique is especially suited to testing devices with limited processing power such as printers and voice-over-IP phones.

Once the initial phase is completed, beStorm then attempts to fuzz every combination within a protocol in order to find unknown vulnerabilities, Jenik says. For example, with FTP, there are 10 million testing scenarios that are valid within the protocol.

Beyond Security now packages beStorm as Windows server software but plans eventually to target value-added resellers and integrators with a plug-and-play appliance, Jenik says. "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 adds.

Pricing for the software starts at $7,500.

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