The Challenge of Protecting Websites from Third Party Scripts


May 05, 2023Hacker NewsWebsite Security / Data Security

Third Party Scripts

Third-party applications such as Google Analytics, Meta Pixel, HotJar and JQuery have become important tools for businesses to optimize the performance and service of their websites for a global audience. However, as their importance increases, so does the threat of cyber incidents involving unmanaged third party applications and open source tools. Online businesses are increasingly struggling to maintain complete visibility and control over the ever-changing third-party threat landscape, with sophisticated threats such as evasive skimmers, Magecart attacks, and unlawful tracking practices having the potential to do significant damage.

This article explores the challenges of protecting modern websites from third-party scripts and the security risks associated with the lack of visibility of these scripts.

Invisible to Standard Security Controls

Third-party scripts are often invisible to standard security controls such as Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) because they are loaded from external sources that are not under the control of the website owner. When a website loads third-party scripts, they run in the user’s browser along with the website’s own code. This means that WAFs, which are usually placed at the front of websites to inspect and filter incoming traffic, may not be able to detect and block malicious activity originating from third-party scripts.

In addition, third party scripts are often used confusion technique to conceal its true purpose or to avoid detection by security controls. This can make it difficult for security controls to identify and mitigate potential threats. Therefore, it is important for website owners to take additional steps to monitor and control the behavior of third party scripts.

Security Risks Caused by Lack of Visibility

Lack of visibility into third-party web applications and open source tools can create several security risks for organizations, including:

  1. Data breach: Third-party applications often have access to sensitive data, and the lack of visibility of these applications can make it difficult to detect and prevent data breaches or unauthorized access to sensitive information.
  2. Malware and viruses: Third-party applications can introduce malware or viruses into your organization’s systems, which can infect other systems and cause data loss or system downtime.
  3. Compliance violation: Third-party applications that are not properly vetted or do not comply with regulatory requirements can expose organizations to legal and financial risks, such as fines and lawsuits.
  4. Network vulnerability: Third-party applications integrated into an organization’s systems can create network vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cybercriminals.
  5. Bad security practices: Some third-party applications may not have strong security controls in place, which can increase the risk of security incidents and data breaches.

To mitigate this risk, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the third-party applications used by an organization and to implement robust security controls and processes, such as continuous security assessment, monitoring, and patching. In addition, it is important to have clear policies and procedures for selecting, inspecting, and managing third-party applications to ensure that they meet an organization’s security and compliance requirements.

External/Installed Monitoring Solutions

Effective third-party script monitoring requires an external or installed monitoring solution. Many businesses install security scripts on their websites to protect against known threats and vulnerabilities. However, this script cannot access many third-party components such as iFrames and the scripts built into them, as they are limited by browsing restrictions. While this embedded monitoring approach is designed to increase the security of web components, it creates limitations for installed JavaScript to provide full security because these iFrames include trackers, pixels, and some unmanaged third-party scripts.

Lack of visibility over third-party scripts is a significant challenge for businesses because it limits their ability to map all trackers, detect data leaks, and create an inventory of working third-party apps and scripts. Critical activities, such as detecting CVE for JS frameworks, tracking pixels such as Meta and TikTok, and misconfigured tags, are limited because these components are rendered inaccessible. These limitations expose businesses to risks data retrievalwhich can result in lost revenue, damaged reputation, and regulatory fines.

Enhanced Visibility Achieved by External Monitoring

Embedded website monitoring solutions suffer from a lack of visibility. Therefore, external monitoring solutions can be the answer to overcome this challenge. Recently, Reflectiz, an external monitoring solution, helped a large financial services company detect suspicious activity related to TikTok pixels. The company uses Reflectiz on its website to monitor its security, and the solution detected unauthorized pixel-related activity: the TikTok pixel script accessed sensitive input data in one of their login forms. TikTok has updated its pixel, and the new version has “painted” users on the website, accessed personal information, and sent that info to their servers. The Reflectiz investigation team provides clear mitigation measures to immediately stop unapproved pixel activity.

This case is a clear example of how monitoring your website from the outside gives you increased visibility over modern attack surfaces, unlike built-in monitoring solutions which don’t see the full picture and can’t effectively monitor third-party website components like iFrames , tags, and pixels.

Naughty Tiktok pixel detection screenshot
Naughty Tiktok pixel detection screenshot

Maintain watertight security against third party scripts

So what can you do to protect your website from the risks associated with third-party scripts? Here are some tips:

  1. Perform periodic security audits: Regularly audit your website and third-party services to identify vulnerabilities and address them promptly.
  2. Use an external website monitoring solution: Implement a website monitoring solution that can detect suspicious activity and provide clear mitigation steps to deal with it.
  3. Use secure hosting: Choose a secure hosting provider that provides regular security updates, monitoring, and backups.
  4. Educate your employees: Train your employees to recognize potential threats and educate them about safe online practices.
  5. Use two-factor authentication: Require two-factor authentication for all sensitive areas of your website, such as the admin panel and payment pages.
  6. Use content security policies: Implement content security policies that limit the type of content that can be loaded on your website.
  7. Keep the software up to date: Update your website software regularly, including any third party services, to ensure that any known vulnerabilities are patched.

In conclusion, the increasing reliance on third-party scripts has created new challenges for online businesses looking to maintain the security and privacy of their users. Lack of visibility over these scripts increases the likelihood of data breaches, cyberattacks, and compliance violations. To reduce this risk, businesses need to understand the third-party applications used by their organization and implement strong security controls and processes. External website monitoring solutions, such as Reflectcan significantly improve online visibility and provide clear mitigation measures to deal with suspicious activity related to third-party scripts.

Found this article interesting? Follow us on Twitter And LinkedIn to read more exclusive content we post.


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button