Money, money, and security

Comprehensive security guide for Windows Communication Foundation

The developer challenge in developing secure code is two-pronged: first, understanding the threat landscape; second, coding defensively and following best practices to avoid creating security vulnerabilities in code. The WCF Security Guide, now available for download from Microsoft, is a pretty impressive document (600+ pages) that combines aspects of both threat landscape definition and specific coding practices, leveraging Microsoft’s Windows Communication Foundation (part of the .NET Framework in version 3 and later).

WCF is an impressive framework that allows the creation of applications that do everything from turnkey SOAP web services to custom communications channels, with tons of flexible configuration options. The downside of the flexibility of the framework is that a lot of the choices it offers have serious security considerations, and the tradeoffs aren’t necessarily clear at development time. For instance, WCF allows the definition of the security mechanism used to protect a communication stream–transport level, message level, or none; encryption, message signing, or both–and using some of the options can make deploying services more complex (must run the service as a user who belongs to a domain, for instance). The guide walks you through a lot of these decisions, as well as basic secure coding practices ranging from input and output sanitization to developing to survive a DoS attack.