Securing Java

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Securing Java:
Improvements, Solutions, and Snake Oil
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Now that we've covered hostile applets, let's turn to the positive side and talk about what can be done to improve Java's security. Of course, security can always be improved by fixing specific bugs, as Sun Microsystems, Netscape, and Microsoft have been doing. Again, removing a needle from a haystack is easy once you've been stuck by it. This chapter focuses on more global issues surrounding the design of Java. What sorts of high-level antidotes are there to some of Java's security concerns?

This chapter has two major goals. The first goal is to discuss high-level concerns about Java and to make some suggestions about how they could be addressed. Many of these suggestions carry over from the original edition of this book. Since 1996, only a handful of our original suggestions have been adopted. At the risk of being redundant, we raise them again. The high-level concerns include programming language issues, formal analysis, applet logging, trust models, the distributed nature of the security model, implementation versus specification, decompilation, trusted dialogs, and policy management. Fixing the way that Java does some of these things will certainly improve security. The second goal is to discuss a number of Java security add-on products that have appeared on the market. A number of companies have introduced add-on products that are meant to improve Java security by mitigating known risks. Vendors include Finjan, Digitivity (now Citrix), Security7, and others. We take a quick look at each of these products and consider their goals in light of objective reality.

Chapter Six Sections
  1. Improving the Platform
  2. Writing Safer Code: A Defensive Stance
  3. Third-Party Solutions or Snake Oil?
  4. Risks That Third-Party Vendors Can Address
  5. Risks That Third-Party Vendors Can't Address
  6. Assess Your Risks

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Copyright ©1999 Gary McGraw and Edward Felten.
All rights reserved.
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.