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, MetaPixel, HotJar, and jQuery have become critical tools for businesses to improve their website’s performance and services to a global audience. However, as their importance has grown, so has the threat of cyber threats involving unmanaged third-party applications and open source tools. Online businesses are struggling to maintain complete visibility and control over the ever-changing third-party threat landscape, where sophisticated threats such as predatory skimmers, Magerart attacks and illegal tracking practices can cause serious damage.

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

Invisible to standard security controls

Third-party scripts such as Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) are invisible to standard security controls because they are installed from external sources that are not under the control of the website owner. When a website installs a third-party script, it runs alongside the website’s code in the user’s browser. This means that a WAF that typically sits in front of a website to inspect and filter incoming traffic may not be able to detect and block malicious activity from third-party scripts.

Moreover, third-party scripts are often used Methods of dimming To hide their true intentions or to avoid detection by security controls. This makes it more 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 your third-party web applications and open source tools can pose a number of security risks to the organization, including:

  1. Data Breaches: Third-party applications often have access to sensitive data, and a lack of visibility into these applications makes it difficult to detect and prevent data breaches or unauthorized access to sensitive data.
  2. Malware and viruses; Third-party applications may introduce malware or viruses into an organization’s systems, which can infect other systems and cause data loss or system downtime.
  3. Compliance Violations: Third-party applications that are not properly screened or do not comply with regulatory requirements can expose an organization to legal and financial risks, such as fines and lawsuits.
  4. Network Vulnerabilities: Third-party applications integrated with enterprise systems can create network vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cybercriminals.
  5. poor safety practices; Some third-party apps may not have strong security controls in place, increasing security risks and data breaches.

To mitigate these risks, it is important to gain a deep understanding of the third-party applications used by an organization and implement strong security controls and procedures, such as regular security assessments, monitoring and patching. Additionally, it is important to have clear policies and procedures in place to select, vet, and manage third-party applications to ensure they meet the organization’s security and compliance requirements.

External / installed monitoring solutions

Effective monitoring of third-party scripts requires external or installed monitoring solutions. Many businesses install security scripts on their websites to protect against known threats and vulnerabilities. However, these scripts are limited by browser restrictions, so you won’t be able to access many third-party components like iFrames and the scripts they contain. While this embedded tracking approach is designed to increase the security of web components, it creates limitations in providing full security for embedded JavaScript because these iFrames include trackers, pixels, and a number of unmanaged third-party scripts.

Lack of visibility into third-party scripts is a major challenge for businesses as it limits their ability to capture all traces, identify data flows, and create operational third-party applications and scripts. Critical activities like CVE for JS frameworks, tracking pixels like Meta and TikTok, and misconfiguration tagging are limited because these components are not accessible. This limitation puts businesses at risk Collect informationIt can result in lost revenue, reputation and regulatory penalties.

Improved visibility achieved through external monitoring

Embedded website monitoring solutions suffer from a lack of visibility. Therefore, external monitoring can be a solution to solve this challenge. Just recently, Reflectiz, an external monitoring solution, helped a large financial services company detect suspicious activity related to its case. TikTok Pixel. The company used Reflectiz on its website to monitor security, and the solution found unauthorized activity related to the pixel: the TikTok pixel script was receiving sensitive input data through one of the login forms. Tik Tok updated the Pixel, and the new version “snaps” users onto the site, accessing personal information and transmitting that information to their servers. Reflectiz’s investigation team has provided clear mitigation measures to immediately terminate unauthorized pixel activity.

This case is a clear example of how monitoring your website from the outside can provide improved visibility into the modern attack surface, unlike installed monitoring solutions that simply do not see the full picture and cannot effectively monitor third-party website elements such as iFrames. , tags and pixels.

A Screenshot Of The Cheater's Tiktok Pixel Detector
A screenshot of the cheater’s tiktok pixel detector

Maintain waterproof protection against third-party scripts

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

  1. Conduct regular security audits: Regularly audit your website and third-party services to identify weaknesses and address them quickly.
  2. Use external website monitoring solutions: Implement website monitoring solutions that detect suspicious activity and provide clear mitigation measures to address the problem.
  3. Use secure hosting: Choose a secure host that offers regular backups, monitoring, and security updates.
  4. Teach 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 checkout page.
  6. Use content security guidelines: Implement content security guidelines that limit the types of content that can be uploaded to your website.
  7. Keep the software up to date: Regularly update your website software, including any third-party services, to ensure that known vulnerabilities are caught.

In conclusion, the increasing reliance on third-party scripts has brought new challenges to online businesses looking to protect the security and privacy of their users. Lack of visibility into these scripts increases data breaches, cyber attacks and compliance violations. To reduce these risks, Businesses must understand the third-party applications their organizations use and implement strong security controls and procedures. External website monitoring solutions, eg ReflectizIt can significantly increase online visibility and provide clear mitigation measures to address suspicious activity related to third-party scripts.

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