Security and the Twelve-Factor App - Step 7
A blog series by WhiteHat Security
April 08, 2019

Eric Sheridan
WhiteHat Security

The previous blog in this WhiteHat Security series recommended executing the app as one or more stateless processes by using small programs that communicate over the network. From a security standpoint it’s key to always assume that all process inputs are controlled by hackers, and create one or more processes that are dedicated exclusively to security services.

Start with Security and the Twelve-Factor App - Step 1

Start with Security and the Twelve-Factor App - Step 2

Start with Security and the Twelve-Factor App - Step 3

Start with Security and the Twelve-Factor App - Step 4

Start with Security and the Twelve-Factor App - Step 5

Start with Security and the Twelve-Factor App - Step 6

Step 7 of the Twelve-Factor App focuses on exporting services via port binding, and what to apply from a security point of view. Here is some actionable security-focused advice which developers and ops engineers can follow during the SaaS build and operations stages.

Defining Port Binding in the Twelve-Factor App

In this seventh step, the Twelve-Factor methodology encourages the integration of the network handling traffic code inside your running application. To explain, web apps are sometimes executed inside a web server container. For example, PHP apps might run as a module inside Apache HTTPD, or Java apps might run inside Tomcat.

The twelve-factor app is completely self-contained and does not rely on runtime injection of a webserver into the execution environment to create a web-facing service. The web app exports HTTP as a service by binding to a port, and listening to requests coming in on that port.

The challenge is that these modules must still be configured, which can lead to security risks if an app is bound to privileged ports or protected with poor passwords.

Applying Security to Step 6

To elevate security risks, bind your app to an unprivileged port and make use of port forwarding facilities. Unprivileged ports are any port number greater than 1024. Binding to a port above 1024 will not require system or root level privileges, thus allowing your app to run with least privilege. Port forwarding can then be used to transfer production traffic from a well-known privileged port, such as port 443, to a non-privileged port being used by your app. This can be achieved at the operating system level, often using firewall configurations. For example, the IP Tables firewall is commonly used to achieve port forwarding on Linux operating systems.

In the next blog we’ll chat through Step 8, which recommends scaling out via the process model, and two simple processes that can be incorporated to enhance security.

Read Security and the Twelve-Factor App - Step 8

Eric Sheridan is Chief Scientist at WhiteHat Security
Share this

Industry News

November 29, 2022

Codenotary announced TrueSBOM for Serverless, a self-updating Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) for applications running on AWS Lamda, Google Cloud Functions and Microsoft Azure Functions that is made possible by simply adding one line to the application source code.

November 29, 2022

Code Intelligence announced its open-source Command-Line Interface (CLI) tool, CI Fuzz CLI, now allows Java developers to easily incorporate fuzz testing into their existing JUnit setup in order to find functional bugs and security vulnerabilities at scale.

November 29, 2022

Parasoft announced the 2022.2 release of Parasoft C/C++test with support for MISRA C:2012 Amendment 3 and a draft version of MISRA C++ 202x.

November 28, 2022

Kasm Technologies announced the release of Kasm Workspaces v1.12, providing major enhancements to its portfolio of digital workspaces delivering Desktop as a Service (DaaS), Virtualized Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), Remote Browser Isolation (RBI), Open-Source Intelligence Collection (OSINT), Training/Sandboxes, and Containerized Application Streaming (CAS).

November 28, 2022

Cloud4C has achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) DevOps Competency status.

November 28, 2022

Simplilearn has acquired Fullstack Academy, for an all-cash transaction.

November 22, 2022

Red Hat introduced Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9.1and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.7.

November 22, 2022

Armory announced its new cloud-based solution called Continuous Deployment-as-a-Service, now available on the AWS Marketplace.

November 22, 2022

Rapid has has formally rebranded Paw to RapidAPI for Mac.

November 21, 2022

Red Hat announced the general availability of Migration Toolkit for Applications 6, based on the open source project Konveyor, aimed at helping customers accelerate large-scale application modernization efforts.

November 21, 2022

Palo Alto Networks signed a definitive agreement to acquire Cider Security (Cider).

November 17, 2022

OutSystems announced its new cloud-native development solution OutSystems Developer Cloud (ODC).

November 17, 2022

Retool announced Retool Workflows, a fast, extensible way for developers to build cron jobs, scheduled notifications, ETL tasks, and everything in between.

November 15, 2022

OutSystems announced the new OutSystems AI Mentor System.

November 15, 2022

Redpanda launched the general availability of its Redpanda Cloud managed service.