How To Reduce JavaScript Security Risks

Author: 
 Updated: 
August 4, 2020
 / 5 minutes

People have been running into JavaScript security issues ever since it started becoming more widely used. However, various measures can be taken to minimize the risk when using JavaScript to boost your security.

Many people will find that they’re able to substantially minimize their JavaScript security risks by implementing prevention methods against cross-site scripting, cross-site request forgery, and more.

This post takes you through some of the risks that you may encounter when using JavaScript, as well as some precautionary steps you can take to reduce these risks.

JavaScript Security Risks

Cross-site scripting is one of the most common vulnerabilities that people run into when using JavaScript. It involves hackers being able to make changes to a website that gives visitors malicious scripts.

The scripts then enable the malicious scripts to be activated on the visitor’s end in a variety of different ways. Cross-site security risks happen when either the author of applications or browsers don’t properly develop the right origin policies.

If cross-site security risks aren’t fixed in time, it can lead to more malicious malware spreading across browsers, as well as allowing hackers to steal data and even take remote control over a visitor’s computer.

Cross-site request forgery is another common type of JavaScript security risk which involves hackers manipulating browsers of visitors and performing various actions. The reason why this can happen through JavaScript is when the website only uses cookies to authenticate requests. As a result, hackers can take the cookies of users and send requests.

If this vulnerability is left unchecked for too long, it can lead to hackers committing fraud, stealing data, and tampering with accounts. Cross-site request forgery and cross-site scripting are risks that both take place in the app layer. Therefore, there are steps you can take to minimize these risks for both types of vulnerabilities.

In addition to this, there are several other security risks that you can encounter when using JavaScript that can be caused by browser plug-in code problems, improper use of sandboxing, browser vulnerabilities, and more.

Organizations can mitigate these risks by sourcing and developing applications that aren’t vulnerable, to begin with. Javascript analyzers, for example, can be used as a tool for testing and getting rid of risks.

Prevention Methods

Cross-Site Scripting

To prevent responses from HTTP and XSS that you don’t want to have included with JavaScript or HTML, be sure to pay attention to the response banners that you use. X-Content-Type-Options and Content-Type are great banners that help browsers make interpretations to responses in a more accurate way.

When it comes to receiving user input, filter it as soon as you see it come up on your radar. You can filter this input using the information on what you want the correct or anticipated input to be.

Using content security policy with the correct set of rules can be an effective way to stop your browser from performing unwanted actions and leaving themselves more exposed. Furthermore, you can encode your data when it comes to output.

Encoding this output data from visitors with HTTP responses, you can avoid problems of the output being recognized as content that’s active to minimize risks.

Cross-Site Request Forgery

If you’re carrying out highly sensitive actions, protection based on user interaction can be a good choice. Making users authenticate accounts again by creating passwords or stronger passwords can boost your user interaction protection.

Moreover, you can implement CAPTCHA or tokens that can be used one time. If these elements are deployed properly, they can provide a strong defense against cross-site forgery.

Securing Cookies

Limiting the number of cookies you use can be an effective method to keep your user information encrypted. You can do this by only using cookies to keep your web pages securely.

One method that lets you ensure user information is encrypted is by restricting the use of your cookies to secure web pages only. When setting secure cookies, it allows the cookie to be sent in HTTPS within a secure channel.

When using solely HTTP, make sure that local scripts can’t read the cookies. For domains and paths, always be sure to check what the settings are in relation to cookies until you’re confident that it’s secure.

Security Analyzers

As we mentioned at the start, security analyzers are a popular tool that you can implement to retrieve information on your website or website app. These analyzers let you see in from the exterior to make it easier for you to identify attacks and areas that are vulnerable.

You’ll want to double-check the penetration testing policies of your website host before you start using security analyzers.

Grabber is a popular system that enables you to scan your site for potential vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities can range from file inclusion to SQL injections. It’s a scanner that’s a little on the slow side which makes it best for smaller sites or applications.

Zed Attack Proxy lets you easily scan your site to locate a variety of possible risk points. The interface of this system is simple which makes it nice and easy to use. You’re also provided with plenty of customizable features to make the scans specific to your site or app.

Wapiti integrates HTTP and GET requests that you can use to test injection and attack points. A command line is used to use this tool and it’s on the more advanced side. You’re able to detect file inclusion, delicate Apache systems, as well as file disclosures.

Conclusion

There are many kinds of JavaScript security risks, but that shouldn’t be a big deterrent because there are also plenty of solutions to these risks. You could use CORS headers, avoid eval (), secure your cookies, or use security analyzers to improve your JavaScript security.

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