Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Zakia Bouachraoui

Related Topics: Agile Computing, Machine Learning

Agile Computing: Article

JavaScript Hijacking: Only 1 Out 12 Popular AJAX Frameworks Prevents It

The first class of vulnerability specific to rich Web apps

Although the term "Web 2.0" does not have a rigorous definition, it is commonly used in at least two ways. First, it refers to Web applications that encourage social interaction or collective contribution for a common good. Second, it refers to Web programming techniques that lead to a rich and user-friendly interface. These techniques sometimes go by the name Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX), though many implementations don't use XML at all. In some cases, the social and technical aspects of Web 2.0 come together in the form of mashups: Web applications that are built by assembling pieces from multiple independent Web applications.

This article describes a vulnerability we call JavaScript Hijacking. It's an attack against the data transport mechanism used by many rich Web applications. JavaScript Hijacking allows an unauthorized attacker to read confidential data from a vulnerable application using a technique similar to the one commonly used to create mashups. The vulnerability is already being discussed in some circles, but most Web programmers are unaware that the problem exists, and even fewer security teams understand how widespread it is.

Traditional Web applications are not vulnerable to JavaScript Hijacking because they don't use JavaScript as a data transport mechanism. To our knowledge, this is the first class of vulnerability that is specific to rich Web applications. In essence, JavaScript Hijacking is possible because the security model implemented by all popular Web browsers doesn't anticipate the use of JavaScript for communicating confidential information.

JavaScript Hijacking builds on another type of widespread vulnerability: cross-site request forgery. A cross-site request forgery attack causes a victim to unwittingly submit one or more HTTP requests to a vulnerable Web site. A typical cross-site request forgery attack compromises data integrity - it gives an attacker the ability to modify information stored by a vulnerable Web site. JavaScript Hijacking is more dangerous because it also compromises confidentiality - an attacker can read a victim's information.

Vulnerable Web sites have already been found in the wild. One of the first people to demonstrate JavaScript Hijacking was Jeremiah Grossman, who identified a vulnerability in Google Gmail. (Google has fixed the problem.) Google was serving Gmail users' contacts in unprotected JavaScript, so an attacker could steal the contact list using JavaScript Hijacking.

During the course of our work, we examined 12 popular AJAX frameworks, including four server-integrated toolkits and eight purely client-side libraries. We found that only one of the 12 took measures to prevent JavaScript Hijacking. Preventing JavaScript Hijacking requires a secure server-side implementation, but it is incumbent upon the client-side libraries to promote good security practices. Currently, some of the client-side libraries go so far as to require the server side to contain a JavaScript Hijacking vulnerability.

More Stories By Yekaterina Tsipenyuk O'Neil

Yekaterina Tsipenyuk O'Neil is the founding member of the Security Research Group at Fortify Software. She is responsible for performing code audits, identifying and analyzing insecure coding patterns, providing security content for Fortify's software security products, and researching ways to improve the quality of the tools. Yekaterina has a B.S. and an M.S. in computer science from the University of California, San Diego. Her thesis work focused on mobile agent security.

More Stories By Brian Chess

Brian Chess is a founder of Fortify Software and serves as Fortify's chief scientist, where his work focuses on practical methods for creating secure systems. His book, Secure Programming with Static Analysis, shows how static source code analysis is an indispensable tool for getting security right. Brian holds a Ph.D. in computer engineering from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Before settling on security, Brian spent a decade in Silicon Valley working at huge companies and small startups. He has done research on a broad set of topics, ranging from integrated circuit design all the way to delivering software as a service.

More Stories By Jacob West

Jacob West manages Fortify Software’s Security Research Group, which is responsible for building security knowledge into Fortify's products. He brings expertise in numerous programming languages, frameworks and styles together with knowledge about how real-world systems can fail. In addition, he recently co-authored a book, "Secure Programming with Static Analysis," which was published in June 2007. Before joining Fortify, Jacob worked with Professor David Wagner, at the University of California at Berkeley, to develop MOPS (MOdel Checking Programs for Security properties), a static analysis tool used to discover security vulnerabilities in C programs. When he is away from the keyboard, Jacob spends time speaking at conferences and working with customers to advance their understanding of software security.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
CloudEXPO New York 2018, colocated with DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time t...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
DXWorldEXPO LLC, the producer of the world's most influential technology conferences and trade shows has announced the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO "Early Bird Registration" is now open. Register for Full Conference "Gold Pass" ▸ Here (Expo Hall ▸ Here)
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of ...
Rodrigo Coutinho is part of OutSystems' founders' team and currently the Head of Product Design. He provides a cross-functional role where he supports Product Management in defining the positioning and direction of the Agile Platform, while at the same time promoting model-based development and new techniques to deliver applications in the cloud.
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...