5 Reasons to Secure your Javascript

From an intellectual property standpoint the increasing use of and lack of use of security around Javascript means there's quite bit out of code out there exposed and just aching to be stolen or otherwise tampered with.

Let’s look at the top reasons you need to be securing your JavaScript code, and we'll also walk you through how to do go about it.

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

XSS is less of a direct attack and more like an ambush. Rather than directly attacking victims, the attacker exploits a vulnerability in a website that victims are likely to visit, and when they do, the attack begins.

First, the attacker finds a website that has the vulnerability. A typical example of this would be a website that accepts comments from visitors but doesn't validate the comments that are actually entered.

The attacker then enters a <script>…</script> containing whatever malicious JavaScript code he or she has crafted as part of the comment. This comment is then included as part of the webpage code anytime that particular page is visited.

The problem here is that JavaScript is automatically executed by the user’s browser whenever it is encountered, so anyone who views the page with the malicious code could be a potential victim to this type of attack.

How can you prevent this? The most effective way to prevent this type of attack is to never, ever trust user input. Validate everything. At every point in your website or application, always put validation in place to sanitize the input, making it virtually impossible to include any type of unwanted or malicious code from being uploaded to your database.

Cross-site Request Forgery (CSRF)

Closely related to XSS attacks are CSRF attacks. Phil Haach has a good analogy in his article Anatomy of a Cross-site Request Forgery Attack."

Phil considers browsers like people in a prison. If you want to attack another inmate in another cell, it's quite difficult.  However, if you could somehow convince the prison guard to do something on your behalf, it would be much easier, because the prison guard will have much more access that you yourself would have.

A CSRF attack works in a similar fashion. The attacker doesn't directly try to make changes to your authorized accounts. Rather, he or she tricks you and your browser into making those changes -- all without your knowledge.

Here's how it works. When you visit a site that requires authorization, your web browser is issued an authorization cookie. This cookie contains pieces of data that tells the server that your browser is allowed access the site.

The attack starts when you visit the malicious site. When you do, malicious JavaScript is used to essentially hijack your authentication cookie. It then uses the cookie to post changes to another site, which you must still be logged into, using the authorization provided by the cookie.

How can you prevent this type of attack? The main method to avoid this type of attack is to use some form of authorization token. These tokens are encrypted, and they basically tell the server that whichever action is being requested, is being requested from the correct page. In other words, it tells the server that you're currently viewing the page and that the requested changes are being initiated from that page and not from somewhere else (i.e. the attacker’s page).

Protect Your Intellectual Property

Developing a premium JavaScript application costs a lot of time, effort and money by you and your team.

Unless you plan on potentially giving away all that work for free you need to do something to protect it. The problem is that JavaScript can be really difficult to protect from theft.  This is because you  give your end users a full copy of your JavaScript code.

But just because your options are limited doesn't mean that you're completely out of luck. One way to protect your investment is to use JavaScript obfuscation software.  Obfuscation software lets you take your code and scramble it to the point where it's virtually unreadable to anyone who wants to take a peek at it.

Enforcing License Agreements

These days JavaScript is finding its way into nearly every facet of a user's online and offline experience from gaming to apps and even into microcontroller programming.

As a developer you may want to promote your software by letting users try it out for a limited time. But what's to stop users from simply going in on the back end of the app and modifying the exposed JavaScript to let them use it for free as long as they'd like?

Once again, your options are pretty limited, but they're still there. JavaScript protection software like JScrambler, for example, not only scrambles and obfuscates the code to make it unreadable, it also provides you with options for placing expiration dates right into the code.

Ensuring Reliability

Your reputation is closely tied to how satisfied users are with your applications. How well your application performs and how reliable it are the key components of their satisfaction. Does it work like as it is designed every time?

Let’s first look at reliability. You don’t just want the application to run smoothly,you also want it perform correctly every time.  By securing your source code through obfuscation you help to keep curious code tinkerers from poking around the code, making changes here and there in the hopes of "customizing" it to their liking.

It won't stop it completely but obfuscation can help to significantly reduce issues. For instance obfuscation can prevent users from cheating in a game.

Getting Started with JavaScript Security

Whether you've created a simple mobile application, a JavaScript-based game, or a full-blown website with thousands of lines of JavaScript code, securing your source code is a great step towards not only protecting your investment but also improving your application reliability and security.

To learn more about JavaScript security options including IP protection and licensing enforcement visit jscrambler.com to sign up for a no-risk free trial. In fact, we're offering a 30% discount on all monthly plans for a limited time if you use this code ( jsk2015 ) when signing up.