Learning secure code by identifying vulnerable code and solutions

The DevOps Conference was held this week and on the Expo there were companies showing their services. One of those was Secure Code Warrior which provides a learning platform for teaching developers the skills they need to produce secure code. Last year I wrote about their bootcamp but now it was time to participate in their "The DEVOPS Secure Coding Tournament!"

Secure Coding Tournament

The DevOps Conference Secure Coding Tournament

Identifying and fixing vulnerable code is an important skill in software development and there are different ways to enhance your skills. During the The DevOps Conference Secure Code Warrior organized the The DEVOPS Secure Coding Tournament in their learning platform which allowed you to improve your secure coding skills.

"The tournament allows you to compete against the other participants in a series of vulnerable code challenges that ask you to identify a problem, locate insecure code, and fix a vulnerability."

The challenges were based on the OWASP Top 10 and there were good explanations for the vulnerabilities and solutions to get better understanding of the underlying problems. You get to use your preferred software language such as JavaScript, Java EE / Spring, C#, Go, Ruby on Rails, Python Django & Flask, Scala Play, Node.JS, React, and both iOS and Android development languages.

I chose to use JavaScript and Node.js (Express) as it's the recent language I've used with different libraries and concepts. From previous experience from Secure Coding Bootcamp it helps to know not just the chosen language and framework but also other libraries from the ecosystem. For example with Node.js (Express) there were questions relating to use of Handlebars, LDAP, Mongoose, XML, etc. But most of the challenges were logical to deduce even if you didn't know e.g. XPath.

The missions were presented as a world map and there was total of 8 levels to compete. The usage of the map and potentical attackers was a bit confusing in my mind but might fascinate some.

Challenge map

In each one of the mission there were 5 different challenges with locating vulnerability by selecting one or more code rows or identifying what kind of vulnerability was shown. You got 3 lives to get it right. Then you got four possible solutions to identify which would fix the issue.

Locate vulnerability
Identify vulnerability

After you either got it right or not, the solution was shown with short explanation to teach you more about it.

Identify the correct solution

Tournament participants had two days to complete the challenges but I noticed the tournament on the last day around four hours before it ended. Fortunately it was said that it should took around two or three hours to complete.

I've to admit that at first I wasn't so sure if I would do more than a few challenges regarding the timeframe for completing all of them but it was actually quite addictive to see how well you could identify the vulnerable parts of the code and what the solutions would be although some of the libraries were not so familiar. And seeing that I did quite well on the leaderboard helped to finish it.

The DevOps Conference Secure Coding Tournament leaderboard

On the leaderboard I managed to gather enough points for the third position and won a Secure Code Warrior T-shirt. Yay! The total points available was 12000 so you could say that there was a lot of points (easily) missed.

The overall experience of the tournament was great and it was fun. There were several challenges which weren't quite clear if you didn't know the used library and couple of solutions were tricky as although the solution was "right" the other solution was better (in terms of e.g. better algorithm, etc.).

I've now done two Secure Code Warriors' OWASP Top-10 learning challenges (Bootcamp and this tournament) and can say that although they don't actually teach you to write secure code, they teach you to read code and identify vulnerable parts. They also have more practical and interactive approaches to build secure coding skills systematically but I haven't tried those missions.

Monthly notes 40

Refactoring, computer science concepts on day job, doing better code reviews, battling CSS and watching cat videos. That's Monthly notes for April. Not much so enjoy slowly :)

Issue 40, 4.2019


Refactoring.Guru makes it easy for you to discover everything you need to know about refactoring, design patterns, SOLID principles and other smart programming topics.


CompSci and My Day Job
Rob Conery talked at NDC Conference London 2019 about computer science concepts he used on his day job without actually knowing them. All of this changed as he put together the first two volumes of The Imposter's Handbook. He talks what he has learned and applied to the applications created on his day job. And gives you more tools under your belt to help you do your job better.

Software development

Code Review: How can we do it better?
Fun Fun Function talks about how to become a better code reviewer and reviews some listeners sent code. General rules for pull requests: make everything readable by humans, title, description, commit comments and most important - your code. DRY KISS

Dev perception

"However, none of the [Formula One] teams used any of the big modern frameworks. They’re mostly WordPress & Drupal, with a lot of jQuery. It makes me feel like I’ve been in a bubble in terms of the technologies that make up the bulk of the web."

Dev perception

When we’re evaluating technologies for appropriateness, I hope that we will do so through the lens of what’s best for users, not what we feel compelled to use based on a gnawing sense of irrelevancy driven by the perceived popularity of newer technologies.

Engineering guide to writing correct User Stories
Agile people are obsessed with writing user stories. And it is a powerful instrument indeed. But, from my practice a lot of people are doing it wrong…" (from @PracticalDev)

Tweet threads to read

It's Friday. Pushing to production ?
They say Kubernetes is simple?


CSS code-golfing is here! Use your CSS skills to replicate targets with smallest possible code. Feel free to check out the targets below and put your CSS skills to test.

Tools of the trade

Luna - npm management through a modern UI

Something different

Why the Human Mind Can Become More Motivated After Watching Cute Animal Videos
"…it turns out that taking a break to view some cuteness might actually benefit your work there’s a lot we’re still learning but according to some research looking at cute animals is associated with a boost and focus and fine motor skills." (from Weekend Reading)

Monthly notes 37

January is turning over to February and Winter with freezing weather and lots of snow has enlightened our days. Here's some reading for the moments when Winter wonderland is too much and warm mug of coffee and fireplace is the place to be.

Issue 37, 31.1.2019

Web and mobile development

PWAs on iOS 12.2 beta: the good, the bad, and the “not sure yet if good"
"The first beta of iOS 12.2: the first version since PWA support that responds to all the critics by offering solutions to the two biggest problems on PWAs on iOS."

Hartington's tweet's thread has some information.


Choose your tools wisely.

Tools of the trade

"To test the flow of a potential scenario, storyboarding and comics can really add an extra dimension that your users can relate to (or not) and provide feedback on the types of activities, thoughts and feelings they would be experiencing along the way. "

Privacy and security

Something different