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JavaScript in web browsers is new security weak spot

Ajax fingered as main culprit

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The growing use of JavaScript in web browsers is the new security weak spot, says Brian Chess, chief scientist and founder of US security software specialist Fortify Software.

Specifically, the use of Ajax techniques to build Web 2.0 applications makes enterprise applications more vulnerable.

"It is really hard to see the difference between what Ajax is supposed to do and what is an attack from hijacking JavaScript," Chess says. "Potentially it provides a bridge between external internet applications and internal intranet applications behind the firewall."

This week, Fortify announced the latest version of its Secure Coding Rulepacks aimed specifically at the JavaScript hijacking Chess refers to. Fortify's recent research into source code vulnerabilities highlights what Chess sees as the next major wave of hacking activity.

"We think the problem is being seriously underestimated because of the surge in Web 2.0 applications. People don't want to talk about it in case it spoils the party - in fact, some have criticised us and said we are ruining Ajax by highlighting its vulnerabilities. But there are some potentially dangerous scenarios that could spin off JavaScript hacks."

Fortify specialises in source code analysis tools which can help spot potential security problems. The latest release of its Secure Code Rulepacks incorporates technology it acquired from its recent takeover of Secure Software. The technology analyses JavaScript code frameworks searching for potential security loopholes.

Chess says the original plan for the release was to merge Secure Software's technology with Fortify's - but the dangers of JavaScript hijacking prompted a re-think. "The bulk of the work on this release was to port across the Secure Software technology. But the JavaScript hi-jacking problem came up a couple of months ago and we decided it could not wait." ®

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