SEC522: Application Security: Securing Web Apps, APIs, and Microservices

GIAC Certified Web Application Defender (GWEB)
GIAC Certified Web Application Defender (GWEB)
  • In Person (6 days)
  • Online
36 CPEs

Web Applications are increasingly distributed. What used to be a complex monolithic application hosted on premise has become a distributed set of services incorporating on-premise legacy applications along with interfaces to cloud-hosted and cloud-native components. Because of this coupled with a lack of security knowledge, web applications are exposing sensitive corporate data. Security professionals are asked to provide validated and scalable solutions to secure this content in line with best industry practices using modern web application frameworks. Attending this class will not only raise awareness about common security flaws in modern web applications, but it will also teach students how to recognize and mitigate these flaws early and efficiently. This course offers 20 Hands-On Labs + Defend the Flag Game in Section 6.

What You Will Learn

Not A Matter of "If" but "When". Be Prepared For A Web Attack. We'll Teach You How.

During the course, we demonstrate the risks of web applications and the extent of sensitive data that can be exposed or compromised. From there, we offer real world solutions on how to mitigate these risks and effectively evaluate and communicate residual risks.

After attending the class, students will be able to apply what they learned quickly and bring back techniques to not only better secure their applications, but also do so efficiently by adding security early in the software development life cycle, "shifting left" security decisions and testing, thus saving time, money, and resources for the organization.

"If you want to know everything about web apps and web app security, this is the perfect course!" - Chris Kansas, ThreatX


  • Comply with PCI DSS 6.5 requirements
  • Reduce the overall application security risks, protect company reputation
  • Adopt the "shifting left" mindset where security issues addressed early and quickly. This avoids the costly rework.
  • Ability to adopt modern apps with API and microservices in a secure manner
  • This course prepares students for the GWEB certification


  • Defend against the attacks specified in OWASP Top 10
  • Infrastructure security and configuration management
  • Securely integrating cloud components into a web application
  • Authentication and authorization mechanisms, including single sign-on patterns
  • Cross-domain web request security
  • Protective HTTP headers
  • Defending SOAP, REST and GraphQL APIs
  • Securely implement Microservice architecture
  • Defending against input related flaws such as SQL injection, XSS and CSRF


The provided VM lab environment contains realistic application environment to explore the attacks and the effects of the defensive mechanisms. The exercise is structured in a challenge format with hints available along the way. The practical hands-on exercises help students gain experience to hit the ground running back at the office. There are 20 labs in section 1 to section 5 of the class and in the last section, there is a capstone exercise called Defending the Flag where there is 3-4 hours of dedicated competitive exercise time.

  • Section 1: HTTP Basics, HTTP/2 traffic inspection and spoofing, Environment isolation, SSRF and credential-stealing
  • Section 2: SQL Injection, Cross Site Request Forgery, Cross Site Scripting, Unicode and File Upload
  • Section 3: Authentication vulnerabilities and defense, Multifactor authentication, Session vulnerabilities and testing, Authorization vulnerabilities and defense, SSL vulnerabilities and testing, Proper encryption use in web application
  • Section 4: WSDL enumerations, Cross Domain AJAX, Front End Features and CSP (Content Security Policy), Clickjacking
  • Section 5: Deserialization and DNS rebinding, GraphQL, API gateways and JSON, SRI and Log review
  • Section 6: Defending the Flag capstone exercise

"Labs were fun and challenging." - Linh Sithihao, Dignity Health

"[Labs are] thought out and easy to follow with good practical knowledge learned." - Barbara Boone, CDC

"Lots of good hands-on exercises using real world examples." - Nicolas Kravec, Morgan Stanley

"The labs were very informative and useful to teach us the basics." - Omar Alshair, TRA

"The exercises are a good indicator of understanding the material. They worked flawlessly for me." - Robert Fratila, Microsoft


  • Section 1: Understand web application architecture, vulnerability and configuration management.
  • Section 2: Detect, mitigate and defend input related threats.
  • Section 3: Authentication, Authorization and Cryptography
  • Section 4: Front end security with modern scripting engines
  • Section 5: REST & GraphQL API with microservice architecture
  • Section 6: Defending the Flag exercise



  • Printed and electronic courseware
  • Exercise workbook with over 100 pages of detailed step-by-step instructions
  • A virtual machine with Linux operating system and multiple container environments simulating various vulnerable conditions for students to explore during class exercise
  • A poster containing the summary of the most crucial defensive techniques covered in the course in a checklist format which can be used as a baseline Web defensive framework/standard for your organization.
  • MP3 audio files of the complete course lecture


DevSecOps Professionals:

Syllabus (36 CPEs)

Download PDF
  • Overview

    The first section of the course will set the stage for the course with the fundamentals of web applications such as the HTTP protocol and the various mechanisms that make web applications work. We then transition over to the architecture of the web applications which plays a big role in securing the application.

    As automation is becoming a critical element of the development process, infrastructure and development components are built and maintained through configuration. The management of these configurations is crucial to the security of the application. We cover the best-practice processes and key aspects of securing web-application-related configuration, from infrastructure to cloud environments and web-server-level configuration, so that you can protect your configuration and related supporting environments for precious web applications.

    • HTTP Basics
    • HTTP/2 traffic inspection and spoofing
    • Environment isolation
    • SSRF and credential-stealing
    • Introduction to HTTP protocol
    • Overview of web authentication technologies
    • Web application architecture
    • Recent attack trends
    • Web infrastructure security/Web application firewalls
    • Managing configurations for web apps
  • Overview

    Section two is devoted to protecting against threats arising from external input. Modern applications have to accept input from multiple sources, such as other applications, browsers, and web services. The basic mechanics of the common input related attacks are covered, followed by real-world examples and defense patterns that work in large applications. Input related flaws take up multiple places in the OWASP Top 10 list, the coverage of these input related topics forms a great defense foundations against these common risks.

    • SQL Injection
    • Cross Site Request Forgery
    • Cross Site Scripting
    • Unicode and File Upload
    • Input-related vulnerabilities in web applications
    • SQL injection
    • Cross-site request forgery
    • Cross-site scripting vulnerability and defenses
    • Unicode handling strategy
    • File upload handling
    • Business logic and concurrency
  • Overview

    Section three starts with a discussion of authentication and authorization in web applications, followed by examples of exploitation and the mitigations that can be implemented in the short and long terms. Considering the trend to move towards less reliance on passwords for authentication, we cover the modern patterns of password-less authentication and multifactor authentications.

    Another topic is the new generation of single-sign-on solutions such as OAuth and related technologies such as JWT and OpenID Connect. We cover the implications of using these authentication/authorization systems and the common "gotchas" to avoid.

    We end the section with an in-depth discussion on encryption usage in modern applications both from a data in transit and data in storage protection perspectives.

    • Authentication
    • Session Fixation
    • OAuth and Access Control
    • Inspecting SSL traffic with Wireshark

    • Authentication vulnerabilities and defense
    • Multifactor authentication
    • Session vulnerabilities and testing
    • Authorization vulnerabilities and defense
    • SSL vulnerabilities and testing
    • Proper encryption use in web application

  • Overview

    In this section, we start with covering the concepts of Web services and specifically SOAP based web services. Then we pivot the focus to the front end usage of JavaScript with the related security implications such as CORS (Cross Domain Requests). We will cover security issues, mitigation strategies, and general best practices for implementing AJAX based Web applications. We will also examine real-world attacks and trends to give you a better understanding of exactly what you are protecting against. We end the day with multiple client-side, header-based defense mechanisms such as Content Security Policy to help you further secure your applications. We go in-depth into how these headers can uplift the security level of an application, but we'll also look at the potential downfall of these mechanisms.

    • WSDL enumerations
    • Cross Domain AJAX
    • Front End Features and CSP (Content Security Policy)
    • Clickjacking

    • Web services overview
    • XML security
    • AJAX attack trends and defenses
    • Modern JavaScript Frameworks
    • Browser features and defenses
    • Browser-based defense such as Content Security Policy

  • Overview

    The section starts off with the topic of deserialization security issue which is quickly rising to be a common attack amongst modern applications. We also cover the topic of DNS rebinding which lingers in the application world since practically the beginning of web applications. The focus then shift over to REST API and GraphQL API based Web services and APIs where these technologies exist in every modern applications and have lots of potential security pitfalls. We then extend the discussion into microservices architecture and the security implications of this modern architecture. Across all these technology topics we cover the common attacks and the current best practices in keeping them secure. The day ends with three process centric topics of operational security, security testing, and logging.

    • Deserialization and DNS rebinding
    • GraphQL
    • API gateways and JSON
    • SRI and Log review

    • Deserialization
    • REST Security
    • GraphQL Security
    • Microservices
    • Operational Security
    • Security Testing
    • Logging and Error Handling

  • Overview

    We start this section by introducing the concept of DevSecOps and how to apply it to web development and operations in enterprise environment. The main activity of this section will be a lab experience that will tie together the lessons learned during the entire course and reinforce them with hands-on implementation. Students will then have to decide which vulnerabilities are real and which are false positives, then mitigate the vulnerabilities. Students will learn through these hands-on exercises how to secure the web application, starting with securing the operating system and the web server, finding configuration problems in the application language setup, and finding and fixing coding problems on the site.


    Defending the flag capstone exercise



GIAC Certified Web Application Defender

The GIAC Web Application Defender certification allows candidates to demonstrate mastery of the security knowledge and skills needed to deal with common web application errors that lead to most security problems. The successful candidate will have hands-on experience using current tools to detect and prevent input validation flaws, cross-site scripting (XSS), and SQL injection as well as an in-depth understanding of authentication, access control, and session management, their weaknesses, and how they are best defended. GIAC Certified Web Application Defenders (GWEB) have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to secure web applications and recognize and mitigate security weaknesses in existing web applications.

  • Access Control, AJAX Technologies and Security Strategies, Security Testing, and Authentication
  • Cross Origin Policy Attacks and Mitigation, CSRF, and Encryption and Protecting Sensitive Data
  • File Upload, Response Readiness, Proactive Defense, Input Related Flaws and Input Validation
  • Modern Application Framework Issues and Serialization, Session Security & Business Logic, Web
  • Application and HTTP Basics, Web Architecture, Configuration, and Security
More Certification Details


This class requires a basic understanding of web application technology and concepts such as HTML and JavaScript. To maximize the benefit for a wider range of audiences, the discussions in this course will be programming language agnostic. Attendees should have some understanding of concepts like databases (SQL) and scripting languages used in modern web applications.

Laptop Requirements

Important! Bring your own system configured according to these instructions!

A properly configured system is required to fully participate in this course. If you do not carefully read and follow these instructions, you will likely leave the class unsatisfied because you will not be able to participate in hands-on exercises that are essential to this course. Therefore, we strongly urge you to arrive with a system meeting all the requirements specified for the course.

CRITICAL NOTE: Apple systems using ARM processors (M1, M2, etc.) cannot perform the necessary virtualization functionality and therefore cannot in any way be used for this course.

It is imperative that you back-up your system before class and it is also strongly advised that you do not bring a system storing any sensitive data.

System Hardware Requirements

  • CPU: Your system's processor must be a 64-bit Intel i5 or i7 2.0 GHz processor or higher. Your CPU and OS must support a 64-bit quest virtual machine.
    • Windows users can use this article to learn more about their CPU and OS capabilities.
    • Apple users should validate the OS version is at least 11.6+
  • BIOS: Intel's VT (VT-x) hardware virtualization technology should be enabled in your system's BIOS or UEFI settings. You must be able to access your system's BIOS throughout the class. If your BIOS is password-protected, you must have the password.
  • USB: If taking the course in-person, at least one available USB 3.0 Type-A port is required for copying large data files from the USB 3.0 drives we provide in class. The USB port must not be locked in hardware or software. Some newer laptops may have only the smaller Type-C ports. In this case, you will need to bring a USB Type-C to Type-A adapter.
  • RAM: 8 GB RAM is required for the best experience. To verify on Windows 10, press Windows key + "I" to open Settings, then click "System", then "About." Your RAM information will be toward the bottom of the page. To verify on a Mac, click the Apple logo at the top left-hand corner of your display and then click "About this Mac."
  • Hard Drive Free Space: 60 GB of FREE space on the hard drive is critical to host the VMs and additional files we distribute. SSD drives are also highly recommended, as they allow virtual machines to run much faster than mechanical hard drives.
  • Operating System: Latest version of Windows 10, macOS 11.6.x or later, or Linux that also can install and run VMware virtualization products described below.

Additional Hardware Requirements

The requirements below are in addition to baseline requirements provided above. Prior to the start of class, you must install virtualization software and meet additional hardware and software requirements as described below. If you do not carefully read and follow these instructions, you will leave the class unsatisfied because you will not be able to participate in hands-on exercises that are essential to this course.

  • Network, Wireless Connection: A wireless 802.11 B, G, N or AC network adapter is required. This can be the internal wireless adapter in your system or an external USB wireless adapter. A wireless adapter allows you to connect to the network without any cables. If you can surf the Internet on your system without plugging in a network cable, you have wireless.

Additional Software Requirements

  • VMWare Workstation Pro 15.5.X, VMWare Player 15.5.X or Fusion 11.5+ is mandatory. It should be installed on a system you are planning to use for this class. If you do not own a licensed copy of VMware Workstation or Fusion, you can download a free 30-day trial copy from VMware. VMware will send you a time-limited serial number if you register for the trial online.
  • Credential Guard: If your host computer is running Windows, Credential Guard may interfere with the ability to run VMs. It is important that you start up VMware prior to class and confirm that virtual machines can run. It is required that Credential Guard is turned off prior to coming to class.

Your course media will now be delivered via download. The media files for class can be large, some in the 40 - 50 GB range. You need to allow plenty of time for the download to complete. Internet connections and speed vary greatly and are dependent on many different factors. Therefore, it is not possible to give an estimate of the length of time it will take to download your materials. Please start your course media downloads as you get the link. You will need your course media immediately on the first day of class. Waiting until the night before the class starts to begin your download has a high probability of failure.

SANS has begun providing printed materials in PDF form. Additionally, certain classes are using an electronic workbook in addition to the PDFs. The number of classes using eWorkbooks will grow quickly. In this new environment, we have found that a second monitor and/or a tablet device can be useful by keeping the class materials visible while the instructor is presenting or while you are working on lab exercises.

If you have additional questions about the laptop specifications, please contact

Author Statement

"Too many websites are getting compromised. The goal of SEC522 is to arm students with real-world defensive strategies that work. You can apply these techniques immediately, regardless of your role in protecting these precious assets exposed online. We all know it is very difficult to defend a web application because there are so many different types of vulnerabilities and attack channels. Overlook one thing and your web app is owned. The defensive perimeter needs to extend far beyond just the coding aspects of web application. This course covers the security vulnerabilities so that students have a good understanding of the problems at hand. We then provide the defensive strategies and tricks, as well as the overall architecture that has been proven to help secure sites. I have also included some case studies throughout the course so that we can learn from the mistakes of others and make our defense stronger. The exercises in class are designed to help you further your understanding and help you retain this knowledge through hands-on practice. By the end of the course, you will have the practical skills and understanding of the defensive strategies to lock down existing applications and build more secure applications in the future." - Jason Lam and Johannes Ullrich

"I am very glad I took this course because there are not many instructors on platforms like Udemy or YouTube that have the knowledge the instructor has. He is very knowledgeable and when asking a question, he goes in-depth about the concept. What I love the most is that his professional experience working in the field helps us understand more about real-life examples." - Alisa C.


Not only does SEC522 teach the defenses for securing web apps, it also shows how common and easy the attacks are and thus the need to secure the apps.
Brandon Hardin
This training is essential for anyone who needs to understand web protocol and application security and their limitations. This course provides a practical approach to many theoretical scenarios with relevant POCs within the course work.
Joel Samaroo
Visa, Inc.
Jason was very informative and passionate about the material.
Daniel Mata
I think SEC522 is absolutely necessary to all techies who work on web applications. I don't think developers understand the great necessity of web security and why it is so important.
Mahesh Kandru
Jason is the best teacher I have ever had. Amazing that he could keep it interesting for 7 hours.
Tuva Dybedokken
Ernst & Young

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