Automated Vs. Manual Security: You Can'T Filter The Stupid presented at OWASP Appsec 2009

by David Byrne (Trustwave),

Tags: Security Automation


Summary : Everyone wants to stretch their security budget, and automated application security tools are an appealing choice for doing so. However, manual security testing isn’t going anywhere until the HAL application scanner comes online. This presentation will use often humorous, real-world examples to illustrate the relative strengths and weaknesses of automated solutions and manual techniques.

Automated tools have some strengths, namely low incremental cost, detecting simple vulnerabilities, and performing highly repetitive tasks. However, automated solutions are far from perfect. There are entire classes of vulnerabilities that are theoretically impossible for automated software to detect. Examples include complex information leakage, race conditions, logic flaws, design flaws, and multistage process attacks. Beyond that, there are many vulnerabilities that are too complicated or obscure to practically detect with an automated tool.