Web Services Security: Trouble in Transit
Web services put more of your company's data into the ether, offering more chances for someone to snatch it.
Computerworld - A transport company's trucks are scheduled for bogus pickups. A financial services firm's investment data is given away for free. A health insurance provider's private patient data is exposed. These are the disastrous situations that can occur when Web services data is nefariously snatched midstream.
The shareable design of Web services, which gives companies the benefit of easily exchanging data and applications with business partners, also makes them vulnerable to security breaches. Hackers have found ways to tweak the XML code used to tag the data so activity that's actually an attack appears to be valid.
"XML standards are being constructed in bits and pieces, and that's the kind of event that leads to holes that someone didn't think about," says Randy Heffner, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc.
According to experts, hackers have three methods for breaching Web services and XML security: identity-based attacks, in which a hacker poses as an authorized user to gain access to Web services; malicious-content attacks, in which an intruder forces a Web server to perform an unauthorized activity; and operational attacks, in which a hacker manipulates an XML message to tie up server resources. But although the methods are known, safeguarding Web services is difficult because multiple elements must be locked down -- the servers, the messages and the applications. Companies must first secure their Web servers and then decide which business partners and employees will have access to them, how they'll connect to them and which authentication method to use.
No Small Task
Defense manufacturer Northrop Grumman Corp. experienced that difficulty firsthand. Web services are a major component of its Myngc.com portal, which was expected to take about six months to complete. But because of security requirements such as user authentication, the project took three times as long, says Thomas Shelman, vice president and CIO.
The portal gives Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman a way to efficiently share ordering and billing data with customers and partners, he says. But while Myngc.com provides greater data access to more people, it also creates vulnerabilities because many users outside the organization have access to business applications.
"[The portal] was a significantly larger task than we thought going into it," Shelman says. "I know a lot of companies that are implementing the same sort of thing, and they don't address the security aspects. They're leaving themselves very vulnerable."
"The need for security goes up exponentially as you're trying to expose applications to your business partners," adds Raphael Holder, vice president of shared services operations at Northrop Grumman. He says the company first grappled with how to provide secure remote access to Web services applications for internal employees and ensure that all users entering the portal were authenticated.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- The 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements addressed by Peer 1 Hosting This handy quick reference outlines the 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- Mobile Policy Checklist Here's what to consider when putting together a mobile policy designed to support a highly productive workforce.
- Securing BYOD Mobile computing is becoming so ubiquitous that people no longer bat an eye seeing someone working two devices simultaneously. Individuals and organizations are...
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Endpoint Backup & Restore: Protect Everyone, Everywhere Arek Sokol from the bleeding-edge IT team at Genentech/Roche explains how he leverages cross-platform enterprise endpoint backup in the public cloud as part...
- Streamline Software Asset Management, Compose a software Management Symphony Keeping track of your organization's software is easy with effective software management solutions from CDW. View the videos in our software solutions channel
- Druva inSync: Endpoint Data Protection & Governance CLICK HERE to watch this video about protecting corporate data on laptops and mobile devices, sponsored by Druva. All Security White Papers | Webcasts