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Subject: Classification & MECE frameworks

Mark et al --

Perhaps this is jumping the gun a bit, but I wanted to offer a thought 
on classification of app security issues.

With regard to classification of problem spaces generally, it is common 
practice in the management consulting world to define taxonomies that 
are mutually exclusive and collectively exhastive (aka MECE frameworks). 
This is essentially a tree structure, in which the problem at hand is 
succesively broken down into its component parts as the tree gets 'deeper'.

MECE frameworks enable summary reporting and roll-ups, while allowing ad 
hoc deep-dives. A key tenet of MECE design is to ensure that each level 
does not contain excessive detail. This generally means that at most, 
levels contain no more than 6-10 subtopics. The other point to remember 
is that topics can't overlap -- this is the 'ME' part.

In @stake's case, for app vulnerability classification we started with 
the OWASP Application Security Attack Components as a straw man MECE 
framework. We then modified it a bit to give it a bit more 'balance' and 
topic completeness. We also simplified some of the jargon for the 
higher-level topics so that executives could better understand them. The 
resulting MECE framework uses 9 high level categories and 56 lower-level 
ones. In particular, the high-level web app sec categories we used were:

- Administrative interfaces
- Authentication & access control
- Configuration management
- Cryptography
- Information gathering
- Input validation
- Parameter manipulation
- Sensitive data handling
- Session management

I'd be happy to contribute the framework to the group if folks would 
find it helpful.


Andrew Jaquith
Program Director
@stake, Inc.
196 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02139

Direct:  617.768.2711
Mobile:  617.501.3278
Fax:     617.621.1478
Email:   ajaquith@atstake.com
PGP key: http://pgp.mit.edu:11371/pks/lookup?op=get&search=0x898CF546

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