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Subject: WAS Protect

Hi all,

I've finally managed to compile my notes on WAS Protect (and
the HTTP server side protection in general). I also now have time
in my schedule to work on this element - I expect we can have
it completed in time. I can start and finish the work on my own
but, for things like this, I prefer to have input from other
people - it's always useful to consider various points of view.

The document is a result of my work on mod_security, its limitations,
analysis of other similar attempts, and various server side
programming APIs. Mod_security limitations were particularly

In my opinion, WAS Protect should consist of a specification of
an execution engine, with a data model and a (simple)
programming language. The capabilities of the engine are
specified in the document.

I have the following concerns:

1) The scope of the effort

   On one level, WAS Protect can and should be used to protect
   from known and unknown threats. On the next language, it can
   also be designed to be a more generic server-side protection
   language, which people can use to secure their web servers
   and applications. I've done both for mod_security but generic
   protection may not make sense for WAS Protect. It would be
   cool but would it serve a purpose? Would anyone implement it?

   Personally, I prefer iterative development and wouldn't
   mind leaving the fancy stuff for later. Another thing to
   consider is that a simpler standard will be more likely
   to be accepted, or accepted faster.

   Some of the features mentioned in the document are an order
   of magnitude harder to implement. For example, stateful
   operation. This functionality is a good candidate for a
   later version.

   Stateful operation is necessary for these:

   * Detect brute force attacks
   * Session fixation detection
   * Session hijacking detection
   * IP address / user blacklisting

2) Overlap with WAS Test

   There's a large overlap in functionality between Test and
   Protect. Test creates requests, and analyses responses. Protect
   analyses requests, and responses, possibly creates responses.
   Therefore a single language should be used for both. From
   what I've seen, VulnXML cannot support Protect. So we need
   to resolve this issue.

3) The question of format

   XML is obviously the flavor of the day, for good reasons. But
   is it a good choice to store engine statements/instructions?
   XML is good for storage and parsing, but it's not very
   user friendly. And if we use XML it is unlikely anyone will
   want to write Protect by hand. Is having more than one
   representation a good way of solving this problem?

PS. In case the attachment does not go through the email, I've
   uploaded it here:


ModSecurity (http://www.modsecurity.org)
[ Open source IDS for Web applications ]


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