Categories
Risk Management

A Review on JavaScript Security in 2022

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Among developers, JavaScript is a popular programming language for web application development due to its flexibility, interactivity, and user experience. A Stack Overflow survey shows that over 67% of developers use JavaScript. Also, more than 95% of websites use this language.

But from a security point of view, JavaScript is the fourth most vulnerable programming language, just behind Java, PHP, and C. Much can go wrong with JavaScript, from malicious attacks to insecure user inputs. 

The potential risks include stealing a user’s session, redirecting a session, modifying data, and tricking users into performing unintended actions. JavaScript’s source code vulnerabilities also allow for data exploitation. How can you address these JavaScript vulnerabilities and make your web applications secure in 2022 and next year?

Common JavaScript Vulnerabilities and How They Manipulate Data

Below is the list of common Javascript vulnerabilities and how they can steal or manipulate your data:

→ Vulnerabilities in Source Code

As JavaScript is an interpreted programming language and not a compiled one, a single obfuscation method won’t protect your application against hackers

Other vulnerabilities include developers’ widespread use of libraries and software packages in the application code. There can be potential hidden vulnerabilities in the packages, which hackers can use to exploit the code later on.

→ Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Vulnerability

How JavaScript interacts with the Document Object Model (DOM) on the web page can become a potential security concern, allowing for script embedding and execution on client computers across the internet. 

XSS attacks allow web applications to accept unintended or untrusted scripts on a webpage without proper validation.

The XSS attack involves the hacker interacting with the user through reverse engineering or requesting them to visit a particular page. Next, the browser executes the untrusted script, and the attack completes successfully.

Server-Side Injection Vulnerability

On the server side, injection attacks are more common. They exploit query parameters in SQL databases to execute arbitrary JavaScript instructions on an application. 

The applications that usually pass string functions like setTimeout(), eval(), and setInterval() are more vulnerable to injection attacks. An attacker can create an id string parameter to retrieve all tables from the database or write in the database.

Hijacking Session Data

The client-side JavaScript on a browser accepts all content that a web application returns to a browser. This also includes cookies containing sensitive data, such as users’ session IDs. A common way for an XSS attack is intercepting the session ID and sending it to the hacker. In this way, the hacker is able to hijack the session.

How to Improve JavaScript Security During Development

There are certain preventative measures you can take to avoid vulnerabilities and increase your JavaScript application security:

 

1. Conduct Regular Scans on Your Code

Audit your application code regularly to find potential vulnerabilities. In addition, write test units to ensure your code behaves as you want it to and executes securely. 

Also, use scanning tools to regularly scan your application code and identify potential vulnerabilities in third-party libraries and packages. So, you can remove them before they can be exploited. Do a regular patch and update your libraries.

2. Perform Proper Input Validation

To prevent XSS attacks, perform proper validation and sanitization of user input to ensure it only consists of acceptable characters. For example, you can allow the phone number field to include only numbers and a dash or parentheses. 

Don’t allow unexpected character input. Use methods such as innerText, a secure way to manipulate DOM. This method escapes malicious content, thus preventing DOM-based XSS attacks.

To prevent malicious SQL injections, you must also perform input validation. If it fails the test, the SQL query won’t be executed. Another way to deter potential injection attacks is to replace concatenations with prepared statements or parameterized queries. 

Basically, the parameterized queries can extract the SQL syntax from the input parameters. 

An excellent way to enhance server-side security is to use server application protection. It will integrate seamlessly with your JavaScript application build to prevent both active and passive attacks.

3. Escape or Encode Insecure Data

Any XSS attack relies on input data containing special characters in underlying JavaScript. The browser views these characters as part of the web page code rather than as a value to display during execution. 

This enables the hacker to get out of the text field and provide extra browser-side code for execution. To prevent this type of attack, any time your browser-supplied user input returns a response, replace the special characters with an escape code. 

For instance, replaced the < and > characters to delimit HTML entities with &lt; and &gt;. This will prevent the browser from interpreting these characters as HTML entities, forcing it to display them.

4. Secure Cookie Transmission

It is a bad security practice to expose session IDs in logs, error messages, or URLs. This causes issues like session hijacking, fixation, and cross-site request forgery (CSRF). The CSRF attack tricks the browser to execute malicious requests to other websites in the background by using the clients’ session cookies.

A technique to prevent this kind of attack is to introduce tokenization for client-server interaction. Upon establishing a session, a token must be generated for each form on the site and sent with each request while the user is present on the website.

Another way to secure cookie transmission is to use HTTP-only cookies. This attribute won’t allow the browser to provide access to cookies through DOM. It will also prevent client-side script attacks from accessing session IDs from the cookies.


Wrapping Up

JavaScript is a popular programming language, but its source code is visible to anyone with a browser. It has other potential pitfalls as well. The recommended best security practice to prevent hackers from exploiting JavaScript vulnerabilities is to keep both the client and server sides secure. 

This approach prevents the risk of malicious content while validating the client to improve end-user results. The client-side validation will inform users of issues with their input, while server-side validation ensures that only trusted data makes its way to the JavaScript application.

A good security practice is to obfuscate your JavaScript code to prevent hackers from reverse engineering, finding vulnerabilities, and debugging. 

PreEmptive JSDefender can help you obfuscate your code, making it difficult for malicious attacks to exploit JavaScript security and modify or steal your code. Register today to get a free trial!


 

Categories
Risk Management

Best Practices When Using JavaScript in Development

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Fun fact: did you know that the first version of JavaScript was called Mocha? Programmer Brendan Eich invented Mocha in 1995. He created it for Netscape, a digital communications company that sought to break away from the visual blandness of standard HTML and develop webpages with interactive and dynamic features. Later, the name changed to what’s known today as JavaScript.

After Eich completed JavaScript, object-oriented language rapidly became a globally accepted coding method. More than 10 million developers — over 65% of all developers and over 90% of all websites — use and implement JavaScript. 

JavaScript: Best Practices for Security and Protection

One of JavaScript’s unique features is that it uses an open source format for code distribution, meaning it’s visible to anyone with webpage access. However, while open source has advantages, its transparency creates security risks, as the code is easy to search for weaknesses and then hack. To combat this, developers can familiarize themselves with best practices and decrease the risk of security breaches.

Secure coding can be critical. For example, the average data breach costs a business $4.2 million. Because of this, maximum protection and code obfuscation are essential in JavaScript development for browser pages, in-app content, and third-party APIs. To help businesses worried about the security of their code, PreEmptive offers best-in-class protection and support for all major frameworks. 

Use Input Sanitization 

Input sanitization is vital to protect source-scripted languages like JavaScript. Web attackers use open source code to inject malicious scripting into a website, an attack known as cross-site scripting. Once users log onto a website, the attacker’s script records victim data and then transfers it back. 

Using input sanitization applications to monitor source scripting is critical to preventing these attacks. These applications examine untrusted sources and expose potential attacks. In addition, each character of code is run through a security check, eliminating unnecessary and potentially harmful add-ons. For additional security, it’s also a good idea to enable strict mode whenever possible. 

PreEmptive’s JSDefender software provides code obfuscation tools that make hacker manipulation extremely difficult and help prevent attacks before they occur. 

Examine Third-Party API Integration

An application programming interface (API) is a messenger that transfers data requests between applications, databases, and devices. Most APIs use JavaScript because it removes the complexity in back-end development. However, developing with JavaScript means that the code is accessible. 

The world’s largest tech companies — such as Google, Meta, and Twitter — offer third-party API integration to web builders, which speeds up the development process and saves money. However, although APIs provide many benefits to web builders, programmers must practice caution when using them. Failing to vet APIs properly can result in poor user quality and leave a site vulnerable to nefarious activity. 

To defend a website’s users and data, use only APIs that have been tested and verified. Thoroughly examine the implementation documents for details regarding data usage, functions, and restrictions. Ensure that all APIs came from and were tested by a well-accredited source. 

Finally, check each API for its security policy and reputation. Not every API comes with the same level of security. Key elements like encrypted connections and strict data protection aren’t guarantees, so scrutinize every API before applying it to a website. 

Even after installing APIs, companies must continue monitoring for unwanted and malicious behavior. Using PreEmptive’s application protection services is a great way to keep critical APIs secure and free of problems.

Increase Application Hardening

The worst thing a business can lose is customer trust, and more and more consumers use phones to conduct online transactions via mobile apps than ever before. Applications are crucial to forming an accessible and appealing mobile environment, and protecting digital infrastructure is paramount. For maximum security, any app that deals with sensitive and private user data should undergo app hardening. 

Web developers can implement app hardening through multiple methods. Data and code obfuscation prevents hackers from interpreting sensitive data or entering an app and reverse engineering it to the source code. It does this by renaming code and replacing certain identifying factors that make it difficult to decipher.

Anti-debugging is another method to thwart hacking efforts. For example, online criminals use debuggers to examine app vulnerabilities, and app hardening can detect the presence of debuggers and block them.

PreEmptive offers top-grade app hardening and anti-tampering solutions. Overall, app protection significantly increases online trust among users, prevents security threats, and reduces the risk of major financial loss. 

Eliminate URL Injections

A URL injection is when a hacker codes a malicious page onto a business’s website. These pages are designed to reroute users to a different site where their protected data is harvested. 

URL injections are possible because of weaknesses in anti-malware and source codes. These weaknesses give nefarious actors access to a site’s coding, allowing them to perform injections freely. Furthermore, once they’re set up, the pages are hard to identify as they steal personal and financial information.  

These URL injections are why programmers need to check their sites for compromised pages continually. One way to check for URL injections is by using the Google Search Console or specific URL injection tools. Once the URL is identified, the page’s coding and data source are altered to add a layer of protection. However, programmers must implement additional firewalls and monitor source code for vulnerabilities to prevent these attacks. 

Additional measures, such as data/coding obfuscation, are critical to addressing and preventing URL injections. Using encrypted coding, strict detection, and anti-tampering software is the only way to consistently protect a site from URL injections. 

Always Practice Safe Coding

Through awareness and implementation of best practices, developers construct safer coding environments and build trust with their user bases — trust that may hold enormous financial consequences. To guarantee this, many website owners choose to boost security by partnering with cutting-edge defense applications. 

For powerful code protection, try PreEmptive’s professional-grade JSDefender application. Learn more about this wide range of data protection services and sign up for a free quote.