2 more tips for Web 2.0 security

Here are more security considerations that apply when using Web 2.0 applications.

Respect access rights
Mashups bring a new dimension of trust not always present in traditional application-integration techniques. One agency’s mashup might require access to another organization’s application. To obtain that access, the agency asks the application’s owner to provide authentication credentials. However, the agency must pursue only those access rights that have been granted to a credentialed user or else they risk a breach in trust.

Bobbie Wilbur, director of Applications Solutions at the Center to Promote HealthCare Access, which implements and operates a mashup named One-e-App, said the organization takes care to stay within the bounds of user authentication credentials it receives from other application owners. One-e-App helps low-income families use one application interface to enroll in various government health, social and other services programs.

In a mashup, the party accessing a system should “be careful to use the user permission inherent in the receiving system as a guide to what should or should not be done,” Wilbur said.

Reduce insider threats
A Web 2.0 site that’s limited to internal users and hosted on an organization’s own network still faces risk. If the site lets those users connect remotely, there should be mechanisms in place that control access.
“Some kind of access-limiting method in the account-granting process is definitely a requirement,” said Ben Greenbaum, a senior research manager at Symantec Security Response.

Organizations can go about that in different ways, including preassigning credentials — for example, hardware tokens — to remote users, he added.

In addition, steps should be taken to address the insider threat. Greenbaum said a large percentage of attacks come from insiders. He suggested that any file uploaded by a user should be scanned for viruses before it’s made available to other users.

About the Author

John Moore is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, N.Y.

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