Security Market Segment LS
Friday, 26 March 2021 00:01

Cloudflare offers protection against malicious JavaScripts

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Web acceleration and security provider Cloudflare's new Page Shield feature aims to protect sites and their users from malicious code introduced through third-party dependencies.

According to the company, the problem goes back as far as 2015 when the Magecart group stole payment credentials from online stores by adding its code to third-party dependencies.

When a customer loaded a web page that used the now-fraudulent routine, the code executed in their browser, collecting the information they entered and forwarding it to the criminals behind the scheme.

Well-known companies caught by such skullduggery inclide Ticketmaster and Newegg.

British Airways was hit by a similar attack on one of its own self-hosted JavaScript files, resulting in GDPR fines and the largest class-action privacy suit in UK history.

Cloudflare thinks it has a solution to this and related problems such as the display of fraudulent advertisements (sometimes linked to phishing sites) and unauthorised cryptomining.

The first weapon in Page Shield's arsenal is Script Monitor.

Script Monitor records a site’s JavaScript dependencies over time, and generates an alert when a new JavaScript dependency appears, prompting the site owner to check the legitimacy of the change.

This feature is in beta, and when compete will be made available to Cloudflare's business and enterprise customers at no extra charge.

It works by adding an additional Content-Security-Policy-Report-Only header to pages as they pass through Cloudflare's edge, so when JavaScript files attempt to execute on the page, the browser will send a report back to Cloudflare.

When a report is received, Cloudflare automatically compares the JavaScript file with the historic dependencies and check if the file is new. If it is, an alert is raised.

Additional Page Shield features are underway or being planned.

Code change detection (under development) will periodically fetch an application’s JavaScript dependencies and analyse their behaviour. Any new behaviour causes an alert to be raised.

Down the track, intelligent analysis of JavaScript files will allow Cloudflare to highlight apparently malicious dependencies.


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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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