Our people weigh in on the issues of the day.
Blue Slate's people think a lot about the challenges facing their industries today. In the process, they often come up with completely unexpected slants on current issues, or new ways of thinking about business problems. Bluespeak is where they share those thoughts. Feel free to read and reflect.
[Any views or opinion represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blogger and do not represent those of Blue Slate Solutions.]
It is unexpected input that is useful when looking to find untested paths through the code. If someone shows me an application for evaluation the last thing I need to worry about is using it in an expected fashion, everyone else will do that. In fact, I default to entering data outside the specification when looking at a new application. I don’t know that my team always appreciates the approach. They’d probably like to see the application work at least once while I’m in the room.
These days there is a formal name for testing of this type, fuzzing. A few years ago I preferred calling it “gorilla testing” since I liked the mental picture of beating on the application. (Remember the American Tourister luggage ad in the 1970s?) But alas, it appears that fuzzing has become the accepted term.
Fuzzing involves passing input that breaks the expected input “rules”. Those rules could come from some formal requirements, such as a RFC, or informal requirements, such as the set of parameters accepted by an application. Fuzzing tools can use formal standards, extracted patterns and even randomly generated inputs to test an applications resilience against unexpected or illegal input.[Read More] Tag, You're It!
The Internet is full of examples of simplifications creating vulnerabilities. A good number of these can be represented as indirection enablers. IP addresses, domain names, URIs, tiny URLs, QR Codes and now Microsoft tags. Each of these serves the purpose of simplifying and decoupling. We have seen many exploits for the first four, what about these last two?
As you likely know, QR Codes and Microsoft tags are graphical images targeted at print media, though there is no reason they can’t be used in an online fashion. They are most often presented as rectangular graphics (examples below). The reason for using them is to provide an easy way for someone to access a web page (or other online resource) related to the printed content. Since these images represent character data they can also be used to house information, like contact details, that do not require online access to interpret.[Read More] JavaOne 2010 Concludes
My last two days at JavaOne 2010 included some interesting sessions as well as spending some time in the pavilion. I’ll mention a few of the session topics that I found interesting as well as some of the products that I intend to check out.
I attended a session on creating a web architecture focused on high-performance with low-bandwidth. The speaker was tasked with designing a web-based framework for the government of Ethiopia. He discussed the challenges that are presented by that country’s infrastructure – consider network speed on the order of 5Kbps between sites. He also had to work with an IT group that, although educated and intelligent, did not have a lot of depth beyond working with an Oracle database’s features.
His solution allows developers to create fully functional web applications that keep exchanged payloads under 10K. Although I understand the logic of the approach in this case, I’m not sure the technique would be practical in situations without such severe bandwidth and skill set limitations.
A basic theme during his talk was to keep the data and logic tightly co-located. In his case it is all located in the database (PL/SQL) but he agreed that it could all be in the application tier (e.g. NoSQL). I’m not convinced that this is a good approach to creating maintainable high-volume applications. It could be that the domain of business applications and business verticals in which I often find myself differ from the use cases that are common to developers promoting the removal of tiers from the stack (whether removing the DB server or the mid-tier logic server).
One part of his approach with which I absolutely concur is to push processing onto the client. The use of the client’s CPU seems common sense to me. The work is around balancing that with security and bandwidth. However, it can be done and I believe we will continue to find more effective ways to leverage all that computer power.[Read More] Net Neutrality: Is There a Reason for Concern?
Lately the subject of net neutrality has garnered a lot of attention. As businesses large and small create an ever increasing set of offerings that require lots of bandwidth there is concern that the Internet infrastructure may not be able to keep data flowing smoothly.
The core of the Internet’s bandwidth is provided by a few businesses. These businesses exist to make money. Fundamentally, when demand exceeds supply the cost of the good or service goes up. In this case those costs might appear as increased charges for access or a slowing of one company’s data transfer versus another.
As in many debates there are two extreme positions represented by individuals, companies and trade groups. In this case the dimension being debated is whether there is a need to legislate a message-neutral Internet (Net Neutrality).
The meaning of being “neutral” is that all data flowing across the Internet would be given equal priority. The data being accessed by a doctor reading a CAT scan from a health records system would receive the same priority as someone watching a YouTube video.
Although the debate surrounds whether net neutrality should be a requirement, the reasons for taking a position vary. I’ll start with concerns being shared by those that want a neutral net to be guaranteed.[Read More]