NDSS

Author(s): Tobias Lauinger, Abdelberi Chaabane, Sajjad Arshad, William Robertson, Christo Wilson, Engin Kirda

Download: Paper (PDF)

Date: 27 Feb 2017

Document Type: Reports

Associated Event: NDSS Symposium 2017

Abstract:

Web developers routinely rely on third-party Java- Script libraries such as jQuery to enhance the functionality of their sites. However, if not properly maintained, such dependencies can create attack vectors allowing a site to be compromised.

In this paper, we conduct the first comprehensive study of client-side JavaScript library usage and the resulting security implications across the Web. Using data from over 133 k websites, we show that 37% of them include at least one library with a known vulnerability; the time lag behind the newest release of a library is measured in the order of years. In order to better understand why websites use so many vulnerable or outdated libraries, we track causal inclusion relationships and quantify different scenarios. We observe sites including libraries in ad hoc and often transitive ways, which can lead to different versions of the same library being loaded into the same document at the same time. Furthermore, we find that libraries included transitively, or via ad and tracking code, are more likely to be vulnerable. This demonstrates that not only website administrators, but also the dynamic architecture and developers of third-party services are to blame for the Web’s poor state of library management.

The results of our work underline the need for more thorough approaches to dependency management, code maintenance and third-party code inclusion on the Web.