Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

7/14/2020
08:10 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

99% of Websites at Risk of Attack Via JavaScript Plug-ins

The average website includes content from 32 different third-party JavaScript programs, new study finds.

Third-party programs such as Google Analytics and other plug-ins expose websites to Magecart, formjacking, cross-site scripting, and credit-card skimming, and other attacks, new research shows.

A report released today by Tala Security found that these kind of attacks exploit vulnerable JavaScript integrations running on some 99% of the world's websites. And while 30% of the websites analyzed implemented new security policies – a 10% increase over 2019 – only 1.1% of websites were found to have effective security in place, an 11% decline from 2019. 

"This indicates that while deployment volume went up, effectiveness declined steeply," says Aanand Krishnan, founder and CEO of Tala Security. "The attackers have the upper hand largely because we are not playing effective defense."

Krishnan adds that without effective policy controls, every piece of code running on most websites can modify, steal, or leak information via client-side attacks executed by JavaScript. These attacks are powerful for hackers because once they attack a third-party tool, they can exploit it on any other website where that tool gets deployed. 

"In many cases, this data leakage takes place via whitelisted, legitimate applications, without the website owner's knowledge," Krishnan says. "Our report found that data risk is everywhere and effective controls are rarely applied. But just like the security business fixed network security issues with SSL and TLS, we'll do the same with these third-party integrations by deploying better security controls and working with the industry to develop standards-based solutions."

The report, which tracked the security posture of the Alexa top 1,000 websites, found that the average website includes content from 32 different third-party JavaScript programs, up slightly from 2019.

Of great concern: Despite increasing numbers of high-profile breaches, the forms used to complete orders on 92% of websites expose data to an average of 17 domains.

"So this means that data doesn't just get exposed on the main website, the shipper's site, or at the payment clearing house, an average of 15 other domains are exposed, which dramatically exposes risk," says Mark Bermingham, vice president of marketing at Tala. "We've seen cases where the hackers have changed code and even taken down entire websites."

The nature of the threat underscores that third-party JavaScript vendors are open to attack, he says, and these same third-party vendors have been very aggressive about collecting user data - something that should concern major e-commerce companies because they are now subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and could get hit with a hefty fine.

Hank Schless, senior manager of security solutions at Lookout, notes that the data shows that opening a company's platforms to third parties introduces more risk, especially in terms of exposure to GDPR and CCPA.

"With privacy being the main focus these days, security teams need to properly evaluate the security posture of any third-party integrator before giving them access to customer data," Schless says. "On the flip side, integrators understand that they need proper security controls in place if they want to succeed in such a climate."

Thomas Hatch, co-founder and CTO of SaltStack, says he's concerned about the reported declines in effective security management.

"When we see declines of this nature, it highlights that there are fundamental issues with how cybersecurity is being managed today," Hatch says. "These types of attacks and vulnerabilities are not new, yet they are more present than ever. If we want to overcome these issues we need to rethink how we deploy our applications, rethink how we secure our applications, and rethink how we manage, contribute to, and support the vast array of open source projects that the modern Web is built on top of."

 Related Content

 

 

 

Register now for this year's fully virtual Black Hat USA, scheduled to take place August 1–6, and get more information about the event on the Black Hat website. Click for detail on conference information and to register.

Steve Zurier has more than 30 years of journalism and publishing experience and has covered networking, security, and IT as a writer and editor since 1992. Steve is based in Columbia, Md. View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
NSA Appoints Rob Joyce as Cyber Director
Dark Reading Staff 1/15/2021
Vulnerability Management Has a Data Problem
Tal Morgenstern, Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer, Vulcan Cyber,  1/14/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This is not what I meant by "I would like to share some desk space"
Current Issue
2020: The Year in Security
Download this Tech Digest for a look at the biggest security stories that - so far - have shaped a very strange and stressful year.
Flash Poll
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprises
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprises
COVID-19 has created a new IT paradigm in the enterprise -- and a new level of cybersecurity risk. This report offers a look at how enterprises are assessing and managing cyber-risk under the new normal.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-1303
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-20
A vulnerability in the user management roles of Cisco DNA Center could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to execute unauthorized commands on an affected device. The vulnerability is due to improper enforcement of actions for assigned user roles. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by...
CVE-2021-1304
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-20
Multiple vulnerabilities in the web-based management interface of Cisco SD-WAN vManage Software could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to bypass authorization and modify the configuration of an affected system, gain access to sensitive information, and view information that they are not autho...
CVE-2021-1305
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-20
Multiple vulnerabilities in the web-based management interface of Cisco SD-WAN vManage Software could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to bypass authorization and modify the configuration of an affected system, gain access to sensitive information, and view information that they are not autho...
CVE-2021-1312
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-20
A vulnerability in the system resource management of Cisco Elastic Services Controller (ESC) could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to cause a denial of service (DoS) to the health monitor API on an affected device. The vulnerability is due to inadequate provisioning of kernel parameters f...
CVE-2021-1349
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-20
A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco SD-WAN vManage Software could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to conduct Cypher query language injection attacks on an affected system. The vulnerability is due to insufficient input validation by the web-based management interf...