Visible to the public Biblio

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Medeiros, Ibéria, Beatriz, Miguel, Neves, Nuno, Correia, Miguel.  2016.  Hacking the DBMS to Prevent Injection Attacks. Proceedings of the Sixth ACM Conference on Data and Application Security and Privacy. :295–306.

After more than a decade of research, web application security continues to be a challenge and the backend database the most appetizing target. The paper proposes preventing injection attacks against the database management system (DBMS) behind web applications by embedding protections in the DBMS itself. The motivation is twofold. First, the approach of embedding protections in operating systems and applications running on top of them has been effective to protect this software. Second, there is a semantic mismatch between how SQL queries are believed to be executed by the DBMS and how they are actually executed, leading to subtle vulnerabilities in prevention mechanisms. The approach – SEPTIC – was implemented in MySQL and evaluated experimentally with web applications written in PHP and Java/Spring. In the evaluation SEPTIC has shown neither false negatives nor false positives, on the contrary of alternative approaches, causing also a low performance overhead in the order of 2.2%.

Fidalgo, Ana, Medeiros, Ibéria, Antunes, Paulo, Neves, Nuno.  2020.  Towards a Deep Learning Model for Vulnerability Detection on Web Application Variants. 2020 IEEE International Conference on Software Testing, Verification and Validation Workshops (ICSTW). :465–476.
Reported vulnerabilities have grown significantly over the recent years, with SQL injection (SQLi) being one of the most prominent, especially in web applications. For these, such increase can be explained by the integration of multiple software parts (e.g., various plugins and modules), often developed by different organizations, composing thus web application variants. Machine Learning has the potential to be a great ally on finding vulnerabilities, aiding experts by reducing the search space or even by classifying programs on their own. However, previous work usually does not consider SQLi or utilizes techniques hard to scale. Moreover, there is a clear gap in vulnerability detection with machine learning for PHP, the most popular server-side language for web applications. This paper presents a Deep Learning model able to classify PHP slices as vulnerable (or not) to SQLi. As slices can belong to any variant, we propose the use of an intermediate language to represent the slices and interpret them as text, resorting to well-studied Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques. Preliminary results of the use of the model show that it can discover SQLi, helping programmers and precluding attacks that would eventually cost a lot to repair.