Ruby security issues you should avoid

How can you make sure your Ruby on Rails application is secure?

Let’s take a lot at some Ruby security patterns (that you can enforce with Codacy today).

Most of these patterns come from Brakeman, a vulnerability scanner for Ruby on Rails applications.

Many of them pertain OWASP top 10 vulnerabilities, but many don’t (just because there’s a top 10 doesn’t mean that there isn’t a long tail you shouldn’t care about).

OWASP Top 10

The OWASP Top 10 list is by far the one list of vulnerabilities that most people are concerned with; you shouldn’t stop there, of course, but you do have to start somewhere:

Injection

Injection is mostly associated with SQL, but it is a bit broader than that. Here are some patterns that identify SQL and command injection vulnerabilities:

Broken Authentication and Session Management

For an application to know whether authentication has been implemented properly can be tricky; still, here’s a simple way to check for that:

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

Cross-Site Scripting allows for scripts to be executed in the victim’s browser; it makes session hijacking possible, along with defacing a website or redirecting the user to a malicious website.

It’s such a common vulnerability that there are several patterns to deal with it:

Insecure Direct Object References

Direct object references can allow an attacker to access restricted information. An example of this is an unscoped find:

Sensitive Data Exposure

Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)

Unvalidated Redirects and Forwards

Other types of vulnerabilities

Other than top 10 vulnerabilities, there are of course many others.

DoS

There are, for instance, several ways of creating a denial of service; these are some patterns that protect us from just that:

Others

Codacy has almost 40 more patterns that check for vulnerabilities of all kinds, from JSON to XML, passing regexes and many more subjects:

Caveat

All that being said, a quote from Edsger Dijkstra comes to mind:

Program testing can be a very effective way to show the presence of bugs, but is hopelessly inadequate for showing their absence.

Just the same, running security tools can also be an effective way of showing the presence of vulnerabilities, but never assume that they’re showing their absence.

Related Reading: Review of Ruby Static Analysis Tools

How to check for these vulnerabilities

All of these patterns are integrated with Codacy, which means you can start using them right now.


Edit: We just published an ebook: “The Ultimate Guide to Code Review” based on a survey of 680+ developers. Enjoy!


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