How to Check If Your JavaScript Security Is Working

11 January 2022

Few programming languages generate the same love-hate relationship as JavaScript. For many websites, JavaScript (JS) is a critical coding component that drives client-side programming. Yet JS is also extremely vulnerable to attack since it is easy for hackers to input query strings into website code to access, steal, or contaminate data. Application security professionals are increasingly asking “is my JavaScript security working?” Knowing whether your JavaScript is secure is crucial to maintaining a safe user experience for your clients and customers.

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a text-based programming language used in website development. Through JavaScript, businesses can create interactive and user-friendly web pages. JavaScript’s history dates to the early days of the Internet when web browsers were just being developed. Created in 1995 by Netscape Communications (the same company that created the browser Netscape Navigator, remember them?), JS was developed to build websites that offered a more dynamic user experience. It also supported the other types of activities, like input validation, that historically had been limited to server-side languages.

But is JavaScript Safe?—A Common Yet Controversial Programming Language

Some estimates suggest that today over 98% of all websites use JavaScript specifically for client-side web page behavioral elements. Up to 80% of all websites are believed to use a third-party JS library or web framework for their client-side scripting. Because there are no security permissions built into the JS framework, it is difficult to keep JavaScript code safe from threat actors targeting customers via the client side. This makes it difficult to know whether your JavaScript security is working. The most common JavaScript security vulnerabilities include:

  • Source code vulnerabilities
  • Input validation
  • Reliance on client-side validation
  • Unintended script execution
  • Session data exposure
  • Unintentional user activity

By taking advantage of the above loopholes and vulnerabilities, hackers can attack JavaScript to engage in malicious activities. Two of the most prominent attack types include cross-site scripting (XSS), which involves client-side code injection enabling threat actors to steal data inputted by the client and cross-site request forgery (CSRF or XSRF), which forces users to execute malicious or unwanted actions on a web application. Other threats include JavaScript sniffers and JavaScript injection attacks.

How do I know if my JavaScript security is working?

The best way to improve JavaScript security is through the use of scanning tools that detect, identify, and alert on behavior anomalies, and with automated JavaScript-specific security policies that can automatically apply security configurations and permissions to help continuously monitor and protect malicious client-side activities.

Other things organizations can do to improve their overall JavaScript security include:

  • Use secure software development practices: Apply best practices that enable the development of more secure application code and well as aid in the detection and elimination of errors early in the application development process.
  • Use automated monitoring and inspection: Monitoring and inspection activities are critical, but also time consuming if you don’t have an automated solution to regularly review JavaScript code. A purpose-built solution that automates the process can be a fast and easy way to identify unauthorized script activity.
  • Move security to the ‘left’: Security can’t just happen after a web application is built or installed on a system. It needs to be a part of the entire website and application development process—from beginning to end.
  • Audit your web assets: Know what web assets you own and the type of data they hold and regularly conduct deep-dive scans to reveal intrusions, behavioral anomalies, and unknown threats.
  • Maintain safe JavaScript libraries: Confirm the security of any external libraries by making sure they’re not on any blacklists. Regularly patch and update your libraries and avoid any dependence on third-party library sources.
  • Be selective with third-party scripts: Third-party JavaScript is a great way to avoid the time and money associated with developing your own code, but third-party scripts can also contain vulnerabilities or intentional malicious content.
  • Validate input: XSS risk can be minimized by validating input before invoking JavaScript functions.

Next steps to make sure your JavaScript security is working

JavaScript carries risk for organizations by increasing the number of vulnerabilities that exist on the client side. Protect your customers and your websites by using the right types of JavaScript security. If you would like to ensure your JavaScript is safe, check out our Inspector and PageGuard products. They are specifically designed to continuously monitor, inspect, and scan websites that run JavaScript to protect them from attack. And if you would like to see our products in action, please request a demo here: link.

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