OWASP Cornucopia

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OWASP Cornucopia

OWASP Cornucopia is a mechanism in the form of a card game to assist software development teams identify security requirements in Agile, conventional and formal development processes. It is language, platform and technology agnostic.


The idea behind Cornucopia is to help development teams, especially those using Agile methodologies, to identify application security requirements and develop security-based user stories. Although the idea had been waiting for enough time to progress it, the final motivation came when SAFECode published its Practical Security Stories and Security Tasks for Agile Development Environments in July 2012.

The Microsoft SDL team had already published its super Elevation of Privilege: The Threat Modeling Game (EoP) but that did not seem to address the most appropriate kind of issues that web application development teams mostly have to address. EoP is a great concept and game strategy, and was published under a Creative Commons Attribution License. Cornucopia Ecommerce Website Edition is based the concepts and game ideas in EoP, but those have been modified to be more relevant to the types of issues ecommerce website developers encounter. It attempts to introduce threat-modelling ideas into development teams that use Agile methodologies, or are more focused on web application weaknesses than other types of software vulnerabilities or are not familiar with STRIDE and DREAD.

The Card Decks

Ecommerce Website Edition

Instead of EoP’s STRIDE suits, Cornucopia suits were selected based on the structure of the OWASP Secure Coding Practices - Quick Reference Guide (SCP), but with additional consideration of sections in the OWASP Application Security Verification Standard, the OWASP Testing Guide and David Rook’s Principles of Secure Development. These provided five suits, and a sixth called “Cornucopia” was created for everything else:

  • Data validation and encoding
  • Authentication
  • Session management
  • Authorization
  • Cryptography
  • Cornucopia

Each suit contains 13 cards (Ace, 2-10, Jack, Queen and King) but, unlike EoP, there are also two Joker cards. The content was mainly drawn from the SCP.

Other Decks

Future editions such as for mobile app development will use different sources of information and suits.


The other driver for Cornucopia is to link the attacks with requirements and verification techniques. An initial aim had been to reference CWE weakness IDs, but these proved too numerous, and instead it was decided to map each card to CAPEC software attack pattern IDs which themselves are mapped to CWEs, so the desired result is achieved.

Each card is also mapped to the 36 primary security stories in the SAFECode document, as well as to the OWASP SCP v2, ASVS 2009 and AppSensor (application attack detection and response) to help teams create their own security-related stories for use in Agile processes.


OWASP Corncucopia is free to use. It is licensed under the http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license], so you can copy, distribute and transmit the work, and you can adapt it, and use it commercially, but all provided that you attribute the work and if you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

Other Security Gamification

If you are interested in using gaming for security, also see Elevation of Privilege: The Threat Modeling Game mentioned above, and the board game Control-Alt-Hack (presentation for latter).

What is Cornucopia?

OWASP Cornucopia is a card game used to help derive application security requirements during the software development life cycle. To start using Cornucopia:

  • Download the document
  • Print the cards onto plain paper or pre-scored card
  • Cut/separate the individual cards
  • Identify an application, module or component to assess
  • Invite business owners, architects, developers, testers along for a card game
  • Get those infosec folk to provide chocolate, pizza, beer, flowers or all four as prizes
  • Select a portion of the deck to start with
  • Play the game to discuss & document security requirements (and to win rounds)
  • Remember, points make prizes!



The game rules are in the document download. But the OpenOffice project presentation includes an animated version of four demonstration rounds. The presentation is recorded on video.

Project Leader

Colin Watson

Quick Download

Reference Files

The OWASP SCP does not include identity values for the requirements, so please use this list.

News and Events



OWASP Cornucopia Ecommerce Website Edition is referenced in the new Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council information supplement PCI DSS E-commerce Guidelines v2, January 2013

It is possible to play Cornucopia in many different ways. Here is one way.

A - Preparations
A1. Print a Cornucopia deck and separate/cut out the cards
A2. Identify an application or application process to review; this might be a concept, design or an actual implementation
A3. Create a data flow diagram
A4. Identify and invite a group of 3-6 architects, developers, testers and other business stakeholders together and sit around a table (try to include someone fairly familiar with application security)
A5. Have some prizes to hand (gold stars, chocolate, pizza, beer or flowers depending upon your office culture)
B - Play
One suit - Cornucopia - acts as trumps. Aces are high (i.e. they beat Kings). It helps if there is someone dedicated to documenting the results who is not playing.
B1. Remove the Jokers and a few low-score (2, 3, 4) cards from Cornucopia suit to ensure each player will have the same number of cards
B2. Shuffle the pack and deal all the cards
B3. To begin, choose a player randomly who will play the first card - they can play any card from their hand except from the trump suit - Cornucopia
B4. To play a card, each player must read it out aloud, and explain how (or not) the threat could apply (the player gets a point for attacks that work, and the group thinks it is an actionable bug) - don’t try to think of mitigations at this stage, and don’t exclude a threat just because it is believed it is already mitigated - someone record the card on the score sheet
B5. Play clockwise, each person must play a card in the same way; if you have any card of the matching lead suit you must play one of those, otherwise they can play a card from any other suit. Only a higher card of the same suit, or the highest card in the trump suit Cornucopia, wins the hand.
B6. The person who wins the round, leads the next round (i.e. they play first), and thus defines the next lead suit
B7. Repeat until all the cards are played
C - Scoring
The objective is to identify applicable threats, and win hands (rounds):
C1. Score +1 for each card you can identify as a valid threat to the application under consideration
C2. Score +1 if you win a round
C3. Once all cards have been played, whoever has the most points wins
D - Closure
D1. Review all the applicable threats and the matching security requirements
D2. Create user stories, specifications and test cases as required for your development methodology

Alternative game rules:

  • If you are new to the game, remove the two Joker cards to begin with. Add the Joker cards back in once people become more familiar with the process. Apart from the “trumps card game” rules described above which are very similar to the EoP, the deck can also be played as the “twenty-one card game” (also known as “pontoon” or “blackjack”) which normally reduces the number of cards played in each round.
  • Practice on an imaginary application, or even a future planned application, rather than trying to find fault with existing applications until the participants are happy with the usefulness of the game.
  • Consider just playing with one suit to make a shorter session – but try to cover all the suits for every project. Or even better just play one hand with some pre-selected cards, and score only on the ability to identify security requirements. Perhaps have one game of each suit each day for a week or so, if the participants cannot spare long enough for a full deck.
  • Some teams have preferred to play a full hand of cards, and then discuss what is on the cards after each round (instead of after each person plays a card).
  • You can even play by yourself. Just use the cards to act as thought-provokers. Involving more people will be beneficial though.

Can I copy or edit the game?
Yes of course. All OWASP materials are free to do with as you like provided you comply with the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license. Perhaps if you create a new version, you might donate it to the OWASP Cornucopia Project?
How can I get involved?
Please send ideas or offers of help to the project’s mailing list.
How were the attackers’ names chosen?
EoP begins every description with words like "An attacker can...". These have to be phrased as an attack but I was not keen on the anonymous terminology, wanting something more engaging, and therefore used personal names. These can be thought of as external or internal people or aliases for computer systems. But instead of just random names, I thought how they might reflect the OWASP community aspect. Therefore, apart from "Alice and Bob", I use the given (first) names of current and recent OWASP employees and Board members (assigned in no order), and then randomly selected the remaining 50 or so names from the current list of paying individual OWASP members. No name was used more than once, and where people had provided two personal names, I dropped one part to try to ensure no-one can be easily identified. Names were not deliberately allocated to any particular attack, defence or requirement. The cultural and gender mix simply reflects theses sources of names, and is not meant to be world-representative.
Why aren’t there any images on the card faces?
There is quite a lot of text on the cards, and the cross-referencing takes up space too. But it would be great to have additional design elements included. Any volunteers?
Are the attacks ranked by the number on the card?
Only approximately. The risk will be application and organisation dependent, due to varying security and compliance requirements, so your own severity rating may place the cards in some other order than the numbers on the cards.
How long does it take to play a round of cards using the full deck?
This depends upon the amount of discussion and how familiar the players are with application security concepts. But perhaps allow 1.5 to 2.0 hours for 4-6 people.


Cornucopia is developed by a worldwide team of volunteers. The primary contributors to date have been:

  • Ken Ferris
  • Colin Watson


  • Microsoft SDL Team for the Elevation of Privilege Threat Modelling Game, published under a Creative Commons Attribution license, as the inspiration for Cornucopia and from which many ideas, especially the game theory, were copied.
  • Keith Turpin and contributors to the “OWASP Secure Coding Practices - Quick Reference Guide”, originally donated to OWASP by Boeing, which is used as the primary source of security requirements information to formulate the content of the cards.
  • Contributors, supporters, sponsors and volunteers to the OWASP ASVS, AppSensor and Web Framework Security Matrix projects, Mitre’s Common Attack Pattern Enumeration and Classification (CAPEC), and SAFECode’s “Practical Security Stories and Security Tasks for Agile Development Environments” which are all used in the cross-references provided.
  • Playgen for providing an illuminating afternoon seminar on task gamification, and tartanmaker.com for the online tool to help create the card back pattern.

As of September 2013, the priorities are:

  • Create and publish the Secure Coding Practices Quick Reference Guide identities used in the cross-referencing [Completed 10 May 2013]
  • Build these project wiki pages out [Completed 19 May 2013]
  • Include darker card yellow, green and grey colours, custom decks and cutting lines [Completed 12 June 2013, and updated further 18 September 2013]
  • Update the document/deck to shorten some card text
  • Map to OWASP T10 2013 and ASVS v2
  • Translate into Spanish and other languages
  • Source funding for graphical design
  • Promote use of Cornucopia

Involvement in the development and promotion of Cornucopia is actively encouraged! You do not have to be a security expert in order to contribute. Some of the ways you can help:


Are you fluent in another language? Can you help translate Cornucopia into that language?


Do you have a flair for innovative design and have the skills to create print-ready materials? We desperately need the cards to be worked up into a more attractive format. Let us know if you can offer your help.

Use and Promote the Cornucopia Card Decks

Please help raise awareness of Cornucopia by printing cards:

  • Use Cornucopia with specifiers, architects, designers, developers, testers and others, in part to train them, but also to solicit feedback on their usability, practicality and appropriateness for their work
  • Create video about how to play the game
  • Develop a mobile app to play the game


Please use the friendly project mailing list for feedback:

  • What do like?
  • What don't you like?
  • What cards don't make sense?
  • How could the guidance be improved?
  • What other decks would you like to see?

Keep the Cards Updated

As the source referenced documents change, we have to update the decks. You may also find errors and omissions. In the first instance, please send a message to the friendly project mailing list if you have identified errors & omissions, have some time to maintain the source documents, or can help in other ways.

Create a New Deck

The only version currently available is the Cornucopia Ecommerce Website Edition in English. We would like to create a new mobile app specific deck, probably using the wonderful OWASP Mobile Security Project as inspiration for the card source materials. Do you have an idea for your own application security requirements card deck? Perhaps for mobile apps or something else?

What does this OWASP project offer you?
What releases are available for this project?
what is this project?
Name: OWASP_Cornucopia Ecommerce Website Edition (home page)
Purpose: Cornucopia is a card game used to help development teams, especially those using Agile methodologies, identify application security requirements and develop security-based user stories. This edition is for ecommerce websites.
License: Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License (best for documentation projects)
who is working on this project?
Project Leader(s):
  • Colin Watson @
how can you learn more?
Project Pamphlet: Not Yet Created
Project Presentation: View
Mailing list: Mailing List Archives
Project Roadmap: [Road Map and Getting Involved View]
Key Contacts
  • Contact Colin Watson @ to contribute to this project
  • Contact Colin Watson @ to review or sponsor this project
  • Contact the GPC to report a problem or concern about this project or to update information.
current release
Not Yet Published
last reviewed release
Not Yet Reviewed

other releases