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Application security

Resources for learning about application security


A curated list of resources for learning about application security. Contains books, websites, blog posts, and self-assessment quizzes.

If you are an absolute beginner to the topic of software security, you may benefit from reading A Gentle Introduction to Application Security.

Application Security Learning Resources



How to Safely Generate a Random Number (2014)

Released: February 25, 2014

Advice on cryptographically secure pseudo-random number generators.

Salted Password Hashing - Doing it Right (2014)

Released: August 6, 2014

A post on Crackstation, a project by Defuse Security

A good idea with bad usage: /dev/urandom (2014)

Released: May 3, 2014

Mentions many ways to make /dev/urandom fail on Linux/BSD.

Why Invest in Application Security? (2015)

Released: June 21, 2015

Running a business requires being cost-conscious and minimizing unnecessary spending. The benefits of ensuring in the security of your application are invisible to most companies, so often times they neglect to invest in secure software development as a cost-saving measure. What these companies don't realize is the potential cost (both financial and to brand reputation) a preventable data compromise can incur.

The average data breach costs millions of dollars in damage.

Investing more time and personnel to develop secure software is, for most companies, worth it to minimize this unnecessary risk to their bottom line.

Be wary of one-time pads and other crypto unicorns (2015)

Released: March 25, 2015

must-read for anyone looking to build their own cryptography features.


Books from

Web Application Hacker's Handbook (2011)

Released: September 27, 2011 Great introduction to Web Application Security; though slightly dated.

Cryptography Engineering (2010)

Released: March 15, 2010 Develops a sense of professional paranoia while presenting crypto design techniques.

Gray Hat Python: Programming for Hackers and Reverse Engineers (2009)

Released: May 3, 2009

The Art of Software Security Assessment: Identifying and Preventing Software Vulnerabilities (2006)

Released: November 30, 2006

C Interfaces and Implementations: Techniques for Creating Reusable Software (1996)

Released: August 30, 1996

Reversing: Secrets of Reverse Engineering (2005)

Released: April 15, 2005

JavaScript: The Good parts (2008)

Released: May 1, 2008

Windows Internals: Including Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista, Fifth Edition (2007)

Released: June 17, 2007

The Mac Hacker's Handbook (2009)

Released: March 3, 2009

The IDA Pro Book: The Unofficial Guide to the World's Most Popular Disassembler (2008)

Released: August 22, 2008

Internetworking with TCP/IP Vol. II: ANSI C Version: Design, Implementation, and Internals (3rd Edition) (1998)

Released: June 25, 1998

Network Algorithmics,: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Designing Fast Networked Devices (2004)

Released: December 29, 2004

Computation Structures (MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) (1989)

Released: December 13, 1989

Surreptitious Software: Obfuscation, Watermarking, and Tamperproofing for Software Protection (2009)

Released: August 3, 2009

Secure Programming HOWTO (2015)

Released: March 1, 2015

Security Engineering - Second Edition (2008)

Released: April 14, 2008

Bulletproof SSL and TLS (2014)

Released: August 1, 2014


Offensive Computer Security (CIS 4930) FSU

A vulnerability research and exploit development class by Owen Redwood of Florida State University.

Be sure to check out the lectures!

Hack Night

Developed from the materials of NYU Poly's old Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Analysis course, Hack Night is a sobering introduction to offensive security. A lot of complex technical content is covered very quickly as students are introduced to a wide variety of complex and immersive topics over thirteen weeks.


Hack This Site!

Learn about application security by attempting to hack this website.

Enigma Group

Where hackers and security experts come to train.

Web App Sec Quiz

Self-assessment quiz for web application security

Secure passwords in several languages/frameworks.

Security News Feeds Cheat-Sheet

A list of security news sources.

Open Security Training

Video courses on low-level x86 programming, hacking, and forensics.


Capture The Flag - Learn Assembly and Embedded Device Security

The Matasano Crypto Challenges

A series of programming exercises for teaching oneself cryptography by Matasano SecurityThe introduction by Maciej Ceglowski explains it well.


PentesterLab provides free Hands-On exercises and a bootcamp to get started.

Juice Shop

An intentionally insecure Javascript Web Application.

Supercar Showdown

How to go on the offence before online attackers do.


Crypto Fails

Showcasing bad cryptography

NCC Group - Blog

The blog of NCC Group, formerly Matasano, iSEC Partners, and NGS Secure.

Scott Helme

Learn about security and performance.

Wiki pages

OWASP Top Ten Project

The top ten most common and critical security vulnerabilities found in web applications.


Qualys SSL Labs

The infamous suite of SSL and TLS tools.

Quickly and easily assess the security of your HTTP response headers.

A free CSP and HPKP reporting service.


Books and ebooks

SEI CERT Android Secure Coding Standard (2015)

Released: February 24, 2015

A community-maintained Wiki detailing secure coding standards for Android development.


Books and ebooks

SEI CERT C Coding Standard (2006)

Released: May 24, 2006 A community-maintained Wiki detailing secure coding standards for C programming.

The CERT® C Coding Standard, Second Edition: 98 Rules for Developing Safe, Reliable, and Secure Systems (2nd Edition) (SEI Series in Software Engineering) (2016)

Defensive Coding: A Guide to Improving Software Security by the Fedora Security Team (2016)

Released: September 28, 2016

Provides guidelines for improving software security through secure coding. Covers common programming languages and libraries, and focuses on concrete recommendations.


Books and ebooks

SEI CERT C++ Coding Standard (2006)

Released: July 18, 2006 A community-maintained Wiki detailing secure coding standards for C++ programming.

Books from

Secure Coding in C and C++ (2nd Edition) (SEI Series in Software Engineering) (April 12, 2013)

C Sharp

Books and ebooks

Security Driven .NET (2015)

Released: July 14, 2015

An introduction to developing secure applications targeting version 4.5 of the .NET Framework, specifically covering cryptography and security engineering topics.


Books and ebooks

SEI CERT Java Coding Standard (2007)

Released: January 12, 2007

A community-maintained Wiki detailing secure coding standards for Java programming.

Secure Coding Guidelines for Java SE (2014)

Released: April 2, 2014

Secure Java programming guidelines straight from Oracle.

Books from

The CERT Oracle Secure Coding Standard for Java (SEI Series in Software Engineering)(2011)

Java Coding Guidelines: 75 Recommendations for Reliable and Secure Programs (SEI Series in Software Engineering) (2013)



Links lead to

Secure Your Node.js Web Application: Keep Attackers Out and Users Happy (2016)


Node.js Security Checklist - Rising Stack Blog (2015)

Released: October 13, 2015

Covers a lot of useful information for developing secure Node.js applications.


Security Training by ^Lift Security

Learn from the team that spearheaded the Node Security Project



It's All About Time (2014)

Released: November 28, 2014

A gentle introduction to timing attacks in PHP applications

Secure Authentication in PHP with Long-Term Persistence (2015)

Released: April 21, 2015

Discusses password policies, password storage, "remember me" cookies, and account recovery.

20 Point List For Preventing Cross-Site Scripting In PHP (2013)

Released: April 22, 2013

Padriac Brady's advice on building software that isn't vulnerable to XSS

25 PHP Security Best Practices For Sys Admins (2011)

Released: November 23, 2011

Though this article is a few years old, much of its advice is still relevant as we veer around the corner towards PHP 7.

PHP data encryption primer (2014)

Released: June 16, 2014

@timoh6 explains implementing data encryption in PHP

Preventing SQL Injection in PHP Applications - the Easy and Definitive Guide (2014)

Released: May 26, 2014

TL;DR - don't escape, use prepared statements instead!

You Wouldn't Base64 a Password - Cryptography Decoded (2015)

Released: August 7, 2015

A human-readable overview of commonly misused cryptography terms and fundamental concepts, with example code in PHP.

If you're confused about cryptography terms, start here.

A Guide to Secure Data Encryption in PHP Applications (2015)

Released: August 2, 2015

Discusses the importance of end-to-end network-layer encryption (HTTPS) as well as secure encryption for data at rest, then introduces the specific cryptography tools that developers should use for specific use cases, whether they use libsodiumDefuse Security's secure PHP encryption library, or OpenSSL.

Books and ebooks

Securing PHP: Core Concepts

Securing PHP: Core Concepts acts as a guide to some of the most common security terms and provides some examples of them in every day PHP.

Using Libsodium in PHP Projects

You shouldn't need a Ph.D in Applied Cryptography to build a secure web application. Enter libsodium, which allows developers to develop fast, secure, and reliable applications without needing to know what a stream cipher even is.

Books From

Pro PHP Security: From Application Security Principles to the Implementation of XSS Defenses (December 8, 2010)

Useful libraries


Symmetric-key encryption library for PHP applications. (Recommended over rolling your own!)


If you're using PHP 5.3.7+ or 5.4, use this to hash passwords


Useful for generating random strings or numbers


A secure OAuth2 server implementation


PHP 7 offers a new set of CSPRNG functions: random_bytes() and random_int(). This is a community effort to expose the same API in PHP 5 projects (forward compatibility layer). Permissively MIT licensed.


A secure authentication and authorization library that implements Role-Based Access Controls and Paragon Initiative Enterprises' recommendaitons for secure "remember me" checkboxes.


A portable public domain password hashing framework for use in PHP applications.

Websites is dedicated to educating developers about security with topics relating to general security fundamentals, emerging technologies and PHP-specific information


Paragon Initiative Enterprises Blog

The blog of our technology and security consulting firm based in Orlando, FL

ircmaxell's blog

A blog about PHP, Security, Performance and general web application development.

Pádraic Brady's Blog

Pádraic Brady is a Zend Framework security expert

Mailing lists

Securing PHP Weekly

A weekly newsletter about PHP, security, and the community.


Books and ebooks

SEI CERT Perl Coding Standard (2011)

Released: January 10, 2011

A community-maintained Wiki detailing secure coding standards for Perl programming.


Books and ebooks

Python chapter of Fedora Defensive Coding Guide

Lists standard library features that should be avoided, and references sections of other chapters that are Python-specific.

Violent Python : Amazon link

Violent Python shows you how to move from a theoretical understanding of offensive computing concepts to a practical implementation.


OWASP Python Security Wiki (2014)

Released: June 21, 2014

A wiki maintained by the OWASP Python Security project.


Books and ebooks

Secure Ruby Development Guide (2014)

Released: March 10, 2014

A guide to secure Ruby development by the Fedora Security Team. Also available on Github.

Please have a look at

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