Java Coding Guidelines: 75 Recommendations for Reliable and Secure Programs

book cover: Java Coding Guidelines: 75 Recommendations for Reliable and Secure Programs Organizations worldwide rely on Java code to perform mission-critical tasks, so that code must be reliable, robust, fast, maintainable, and secure. Java Coding Guidelines brings together expert guidelines, recommendations, and code examples to help you meet these demands. You'll find 75 guidelines, each presented consistently and intuitively. For each guideline, conformance requirements are specified; for most, noncompliant code examples and compliant solutions are also offered. The authors explain when to apply each guideline and provide references to even more detailed information. Reflecting pioneering research on Java security, Java™ Coding Guidelines offers updated techniques for protecting against both deliberate attacks and other unexpected events. You'll find best practices for improving code reliability and clarity, and a full chapter exposing common misunderstandings that lead to suboptimal code. Intended primarily for software professionals working in Java Standard Edition (SE) 7 Platform environments, this guide is also useful to those working with Java Micro Edition (ME), Java Enterprise Edition (EE), and other contemporary Java language platforms.

authors: Fred Long, Dhruv Mohindra, Robert C. Seacord, Dean F. Sutherland, and David Svoboda (with a foreword by James A. Gosling, father of the Java programming language)

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"A must-read for all Java developers. . . . Every developer has a responsibility to author code that is free of significant security vulnerabilities. This book provides realistic guidance to help Java developers implement desired functionality with security, reliability, and maintainability goals in mind."
—Mary Ann Davidson, Chief Security Officer, Oracle Corporation

Fred Long is a senior lecturer in the Department of Computer Science, Aberystwyth University, in the United Kingdom. He is chairman of the British Computer Society's Mid-Wales Branch. Fred has been a visiting scientist at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) since 1992. Recently, his research has involved the investigation of vulnerabilities in Java. Fred is also a coauthor of The CERT Oracle Secure Coding Standard for Java (Addison-Wesley, 2012).

Dhruv Mohindra is a technical lead in the security practices group that is part of the CTO's office at Persistent Systems Limited, India, where he provides information security consulting solutions across various technology verticals such as cloud, collaboration, banking and finance, telecommunications, enterprise, mobility, life sciences, and health care. Dhruv has worked for CERT at the Software Engineering Institute and continues to collaborate to improve the state of security awareness in the programming community. Dhruv is also a coauthor of The CERT Oracle Secure Coding Standard for Java (Addison-Wesley, 2012).

Robert Seacord began programming (professionally) for IBM in 1982 and has been programming in C since 1985, and in C++ since 1992. Robert is currently a Senior Vulnerability Analyst with the CERT/Coordination Center (CERT/CC) at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI). As a member of the Vulnerability Analysis Team, Robert works with other CERT team members to analyze software vulnerability reports and assess the risk to the internet and other critical infrastructures, identify underlying causes of vulnerabilities, and develop coding practices to improve the security of software systems.

Dean F. Sutherland is a senior software security engineer at CERT. Dean received his PhD in software engineering from Carnegie Mellon in 2008. Before his return to academia, he spent 14 years working as a professional software engineer at Tartan, Inc. He spent the last 6 of those years as a senior member of the technical staff and a technical lead for compiler backend technology. Dean is also a coauthor of The CERT Oracle Secure Coding Standard for Java (Addison-Wesley, 2012).

David Svoboda is a software security engineer at CERT/SEI. He also maintains the CERT Secure Coding standard websites for Java, as well as C, C++, and Perl. David has been the primary developer on a diverse set of software development projects at Carnegie Mellon since 1991, ranging from hierarchical chip modeling and social organization simulation to automated machine translation (AMT). David is also a coauthor of The CERT Oracle Secure Coding Standard for Java (Addison-Wesley, 2012).

Foreword (by James Gosling)



About the Authors

Chapter 1 Security

Limit the lifetime of sensitive data
Do not store unencrypted sensitive information on the client side
Provide sensitive mutable classes with unmodifiable wrappers
Ensure that security-sensitive methods are called with validated arguments
Prevent arbitrary file upload
Properly encode or escape output
Prevent code injection
Prevent XPath Injection
Prevent LDAP injection
Do not use the clone () method to copy untrusted method parameters
Do not use Object.equals () to compare cryptographic keys
Do not use insecure or weak cryptographic algorithms
Store passwords using a hash function
Ensure that SecureRandom is properly seeded
Do not rely on methods that can be overridden by untrusted code
Avoid granting excess privileges
Minimize privileged code
Do not expose methods that use reduced-security checks to untrusted code
Define custom security permissions for fine-grained security
Create a secure sandbox using a security manager
Do not let untrusted code misuse privileges of callback methods

Chapter 2 Defensive Programming

Minimize the scope of variables
Minimize the scope of the @SuppressWarnings annotation
Minimize the accessibility of classes and their members
Document thread-safety and use annotations where applicable
Always provide feedback about the resulting value of a method
Identify files using multiple file attributes
Do not attach significance to the ordinal associated with an enum
Be aware of numeric promotion behavior
Enable compile-time type checking of variable arity parameter types
Do not apply public final to constants whose value might change in later releases
Avoid cyclic dependencies between packages
Prefer user-defined exceptions over more general exception types
Try to gracefully recover from system errors
Carefully design interfaces before releasing them
Write garbage-collection-friendly code

Chapter 3 Reliability

Do not shadow or obscure identifiers in subscopes
Do not declare more than one variable per declaration
Use meaningful symbolic constants to represent literal values in program logic
Properly encode relationships in constant definitions
Return an empty array or collection instead of a null value for methods that return an array or collection
Use exceptions only for exceptional conditions
Use a try-with-resources statement to safely handle closeable resources
Do not use assertions to verify the absence of runtime errors
Use the same type for the second and third operands in conditional expressions
Do not serialize direct handles to system resources
Prefer using iterators over enumerations
Do not use direct buffers for short-lived, infrequently used objects
Remove short-lived objects from long-lived container objects

Chapter 4 Program Understandability

Be careful using visually misleading identifiers and literals
Avoid ambiguous overloading of variable arity methods
Avoid in-band error indicators
Do not perform assignments in conditional expressions
Use braces for the body of an if, for, or while statement
Do not place a semicolon immediately following an if, for, or while condition
Finish every set of statements associated with a case label with a break statement
Avoid inadvertent wrapping of loop counters
Use parentheses for precedence of operation
Do not make assumptions about file creation
Convert integers to floating point for floating-point operations
Ensure that the clone method calls super.clone
Use comments consistently and in a readable fashion
Detect and remove superfluous code and values
Strive for logical completeness
Avoid ambiguous or confusing uses of overloading

Chapter 5 Programmer Misconceptions

Do not assume that declaring a reference volatile guarantees safe publication of the members of the     referenced object
Do not assume that the sleep (), yield (), or getState () methods provide synchronization semantics
Do not assume that the remainder operator always returns a nonnegative result for integral operands
Do not confuse abstract object equality with reference equality
Understand the differences between bitwise and logical operators
Understand how escape characters are interpreted when strings are loaded
Do not use overloaded methods to differentiate between runtime types
Never confuse the immutability of a reference with that of the referenced object
Use the serialization methods writeUnshared() and readUnshared() with care
Do not attempt to help the garbage collector by setting local reference variables to null

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