JavaScript Web Application Security: 5 Things Developers Should Know

When client-side security breaches occur, web application developers can find themselves on the receiving end of the blame game (somewhat unfairly). The demands of an accelerated development cycle combined with the security pressures of JavaScript web applications mean that developers can get caught in the proverbial “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” loop.

The increase in website attacks makes implementing JavaScript security technologies and processes a priority for any business. The proliferation of third-party libraries and vulnerable JavaScript code increases the risk of client-side attack. Criminal purveyors of Magecart, cross-site scripting (XSS) and other types of script attacks take advantage of these vulnerabilities. And with the vulnerabilities identified, hackers then inject malicious scripts into the existing source code to steal sensitive data, personally identifiable information (PII), financial data and credit card numbers, which can be monetized on the dark. web.

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Why do businesses need JavaScript web application security?

The reasons JavaScript web application security is so critical come down to three main factors: (1) how web application security works; (2) the JavaScript code itself; and (3) the proliferation of open source libraries.

Client-side operations and JavaScript web application security: Websites primarily operate on the client side or front-end (as opposed to the server side or back-end). Traditional perimeter security tools don’t protect the client side, and tools like web application firewall (WAF), policy controls, and threat intelligence are only partially effective for front-end security. (For a better understanding of client-side vs. server-side, check out our blog post: What is the difference between client side and server side and why is it important for your daily security?)

Unsafe JavaScript: To add to the complexity, JavaScript was not designed with security in mind. Since there are no built-in security permissions in the JS framework, it is difficult to prevent client-side attacks on JavaScript code. The most common JavaScript security vulnerabilities include:

  • Source code vulnerabilities
  • Validation of entries
  • Using client-side validation
  • Unintentional script execution
  • Exposure of session data
  • Unintentional user activity

Open Source Libraries: When you’re under pressure to build a sleek app quickly, compiling pre-written code can make sense. Open source libraries are a great source of pre-written JavaScript code. However, third-party and fourth-party code found in open source libraries is often flawed and sometimes malicious. Adding this code to a corporate website can expose the organization to JavaScript supply chain breaches and attacks.

In fact, a recent study by WhiteSource highlighted issues with open source libraries and JavaScript, identifying over 1,300 malicious packages in the most downloaded JavaScript package repository.

JavaScript web application security: A recent study by WhiteSource highlighted issues with open source libraries and JavaScript, identifying over 1,300 malicious packages in the most downloaded JavaScript package repository.

Bridging the gap between development and security

The need for secure web application development is ever present. A 2021 survey by GitLab found that over 84% of developers were releasing code faster than before. Unfortunately, only 2.7% of respondents automate security testing or move security to the left.

Bridging the gap between development and security comes down, in part, to understanding the risks associated with insecure development activities and vulnerable code. Developers, in particular, often find themselves stuck between development speed and web application security. Contrary to popular opinion, an accelerated application development cycle and application security are not mutually exclusive. In fact, with the right processes and tools in place, developers can always quickly produce functional and elegant web applications and secure the development process at the same time.

To help ensure a secure development process, here are five simple things developers can do:

  1. Move security to the left: Security should occur throughout the software development lifecycle. Take a few minutes to chat with the security team or security experts for guidance and assistance.
  2. Maintain secure open-source JavaScript libraries and be selective with third-party and third-party scripts, plugins, and tools: Confirm the safety of all external libraries by ensuring they are not on any blocklists. Fix and update your libraries regularly. Always inspect third-party and fourth-party additions for vulnerabilities.
  3. Perform automated client-side attack surface monitoring: Inspection activities are essential, but also time-consuming if you don’t have an automated solution to examine JavaScript code. A purpose-built solution, like that of Feroot Inspector which automates the process can be a quick and easy way to identify malicious script activity on interesting web applications.
  4. Implement security best practices for web application development: Prevent cross-site scripting and injection attacks by avoiding inline JavaScript, using an advanced and automated content security policy, validating input, avoiding eval(), and keeping strict mode enabled.
  5. Know the OWASP Top 10: Know which web application security threats are the most common and riskiest based on analysis by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). Developers can use the OWASP Top 10 to set the stage for improving web application security early in the development process.
JavaScript web application security: A 2021 survey by GitLab found that over 84% of developers were releasing code faster than before.  Unfortunately, only 2.7% of respondents automate security testing or move security to the left.

Build more secure JavaScript web applications

JavaScript has huge risks on the client side. The only way to protect businesses and customers is to apply JavaScript security best practices to the web application development process.

The post office JavaScript Web Application Security: 5 Things Developers Should Know appeared first on Feracin.

*** This is a syndicated blog from the Security Bloggers Network of Feracin Written by Feroot Security Team. Read the original post at: https://www.feroot.com/blog/javascript-web-application-security-5-things-developers-should-know/


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