How to protect your site against lethal unauthorized code injections

July 6, 2021 | Theodoros Karasavvas

This blog was written by an independent guest blogger.

Lethal unauthorized code injections like XXS (cross site scripting) attacks are some of the most dynamic cyber-attacks. They are often very difficult to detect and can result in credit card theft, fraud, and endpoint data breaches, having a huge impact on small to medium sized businesses. 

In a recent AT&T cybersecurity survey, 88% of respondents reported that they had experienced at least one security incident within the past year. A CSP (content security policy) can be a great solution for defending sites from lethal code injections, especially when used in conjunction with additional layers of security to protect users' most sensitive data. 

The standardized set of directives that can be enforced by a CSP tells the browser what sources are trustworthy and which ones to block. This technique has the ability to eliminate many common injection vectors and also can significantly reduce XSS attacks. While CSPs are powerful against XSS and other client-side attacks, website admins should continue to follow security best practices and utilize tools that help to minimize JavaScript vulnerabilities. 

How CSPs help prevent malicious attacks

When implemented as a part of your website standards, a CSP (or ISP - Information Security Policy - as it is sometimes called) tells the browser to enforce policies that restrict which scripts can be loaded on any given website. You can specify which domains are allowed to run scripts, which are blocked, and which ones get reported but can still be viewed. This not only helps you to narrow your vulnerability, but also can help you discover where malicious attacks are likely to come from in the future.

When there are multiple CSPs specified, the browser will default to using the most restrictive directive in order to thwart a malicious attack. For example, to prevent cybercriminals from injecting embedded images with malicious code, an e-commerce site admin might want to limit the domains from which images are allowed to load from.  

A content security policy should be a mainstay for any web admin and IT team security protocol. Any other cyber protection that you use will be stabilized by the CSP and create a fortress to protect your website data. 

Layers of security

Organizations both large and small should be concerned about hackers and data breaches, although the spotlight has been focused on advances in technology, giving a false sense of security. Instances of cybercrime were up again by 37% last year, costing businesses nearly $4.5 million. Cybersecurity strategies that can adapt to the changing techniques that cybercriminals employ to exploit businesses and their customers are more important than ever before as we continue to expand the internet of things and our connectivity capabilities. 

While a CSP provides a thick layer of protection, hackers only have to target a single allowed domain that you are not protected against in order to execute an attack that could possibly result in catastrophic data loss, loss of trust from your customers, and loss of revenue. In order to add another layer of security, website admins need an additional layer of JavaScript-based monitoring that is able to analyze script behavior at the granular level. 

Sensors that are created for JavaScript have the ability to collect all kinds of behavior signals from scripts that are running on the page while flagging anomalies that have the potential to be malicious code injections like an XXS attack. This type of solution works well with CSPs and is similar in that it requires minimal configuration, minimal maintenance, and has little to no effect on site performance and the user experience. 

Getting the most protection from a CSP

If you are a business owner who has a website of any kind that utilizes complex web apps, login functionality, or user cookies, then implementing a CSP might be a good idea in order to protect against sneaky XXS attacks. In addition to providing support against difficult to spot vulnerabilities, a CSP also helps to enforce other existing cybersecurity best practices. Here are some examples of solutions that work great in conjunction with content security policies:

Combining manual and automated cybersecurity audits

A proactive approach is the best way to prevent hackers from stealing sensitive data. Regular cybersecurity audits are essential for keeping your website secure on all levels. Without assessing your situation on a regular basis, you could get blind-sided by an unauthorized code injection. 

Consistently conduct audits that analyze your IT environment to pinpoint where your vulnerabilities are so that you can mitigate them before they grow into much larger issues. This is also a great time to make sure that your systems and software are all up to date. Hackers evolve quickly, and so should your IT system.

VPNs

Using a high quality VPN is of vital importance when it comes to protecting your website from lethal code injections. As cybersecurity expert Ludovic Rembert of Privacy Canada notes, using a VPN is no longer a mere option in today’s world.

 “The benefit of using a VPN is you’re able to securely surf the web without fear of having your identity or personal details stolen,” says Rembert. “A VPN is a service that creates a virtual tunnel of encrypted data flowing between the user (that’s you) and the server (that’s the internet)....Other benefits include access to streaming content in other countries and hiding activity from government agencies.”

Sandboxing

A sandbox is essentially a controlled environment in a web application where third-party services are run. Sandbox technologies are very specific with regards to what those third-party scripts are allowed to do, reinforcing the directives and bolstering the protection of a CSP. When using these security tools it's important to keep up with changes to third party scripts through frequent updates. 

AT&T Active Armor

Customer security has always been a top priority for AT&T. This network protection technology works 24/7, detecting and preventing threats through additional security apps and solutions. AT&T customers get access to many of these essential security capabilities without having to pay additional fees, which is great for small to medium sized business owners. It actively protects both devices and the network from malicious attacks.

Conclusion

When it comes to the security of your business website, an approach that involves multiple layers of protection is crucial for preventing lethal unauthorized code injections. Web applications that utilize a combination of content security policies and behavioral detection canbe inexpensive and reliable. 

Maintaining a secure environment is also directly aligned with customer satisfaction. Consumers can visit your page with confidence knowing that their data is safe from hackers, building a relationship of trust with your brand. Choose the right tools and technology for your cybersecurity needs, and prevent future attacks by using a CSP in addition to other security best practices.

Theodoros Karasavvas

About the Author: Theodoros Karasavvas

Theodoros ‘Theo’ Karasavvas is a freelance writer based out of Corinth, Greece. He has written for Ars Technica, American Express, Gizmodo, Gold Visa Japan, Mental Floss, and Ancient Origins, among others. He has a Master of Studies in Law from the University of Athens and speaks four languages. He specializes in writing about history, current events, tech trends, and privacy technology.

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