Date of Award
Software security is extremely important, and even thoroughly tested code may still have exploitable vulnerabilities. Some of these vulnerabilities are caused by logic flaws. Due to the nature of application or business logic, few automated tools can test for these types of security issues. Therefore, it is important for students to learn how to reduce the number of logic flaws when developing software, and how to test for them manually. A course module with a case study was created to teach students about this topic. Case-based teaching methods are used because it allows students to better apply learned skills to real world industrial settings, and there is a lack of case studies available for current software engineering curriculum. The course module includes an introduction, a quiz on the reading, an animated PowerPoint about the case, and a set of discussion questions. The introduction covers what logic flaws are, reducing logic flaws during software development, and how to test for them manually. The case is about eCommerce merchant software Bigcommerce using PayPal Express to collect payment. A flaw lets attackers complete an expensive order using the payment intended for a cheaper order. An animation was created to trace the HTTP interactions and back-end code representing the steps of the exploit from this case, and explain the manual testing method used to discover the exploit. A set of discussion questions has students apply this method to similar code, to find potential vulnerabilities and then fix them. This course module was taught in COMP 727 Secure Software Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University in the Spring 2015 semester. A pre-survey and post-survey on the learning objectives shows students felt they improved their knowledge and skills relating to application logic flaws. A quiz based on the reading shows students understood the material. The quality of student discussions was very high. Discussion question results were graded using a rubric, and three-quarters of the class received an 85% grade or higher. Overall, this case study was effective at teaching students about application logic flaws. It will be made available to other universities, and can be easily integrated into existing curriculum.
Simpkins, Lindsay, "A Course Module On Application Logic Flaws" (2015). Theses. 266.