New Report Shows Lack of Awareness About Malicious Third-party Code Leaves Decision Makers in the Dark About Security Risks

PerimeterX, the company that protects the world’s largest and most reputable websites and mobile applications from malicious activities, today released “Third-Party Code: The Hidden Risk in Your Website,” a survey of security professionals that underscores the lack of awareness people have about vulnerabilities in third-party client-side scripts and the unaddressed threats that can result.

Industry estimates state that the typical website is comprised of approximately 70 percent third-party code. The survey found that while almost all websites are running at least some third-party client-side scripts, 60 percent of those surveyed estimated the proportion of third-party code to be significantly lower – a dangerous misconception.

“Today, a company’s website is a primary avenue for interaction with customers and for significant revenue. As a result, they are a large target for cybercriminals, and website attacks show no sign of slowing down. Enterprises must protect their web applications from client-side attacks to prevent both the risk of massive fines, as in the case of the recent British Airways GDPR fine, as well as damage to brand reputation,” said Kim DeCarlis, CMO, PerimeterX. “This report highlights a large gap between perception and reality. It serves as a wake-up call for organizations to take preventive action and not wait until they’ve been attacked and the damage has been done.”

Additional findings include:

  • Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed believe they have only some or very little insight about the third-party client-side scripts that are running on their websites. Only 11 percent believe that they have complete insight into third-party client-side scripts.
     
  • Only 38 percent of those surveyed can provide assurances to their senior management that their corporate websites are completely secure and compliant with key privacy regulations. This creates not only significant liabilities, such as regulatory fines and brand damage, but personal ones, as well: 70 percent of those surveyed believe that website owners definitely would be terminated following a major data breach.
     
  • Decision makers are concerned about a variety of threats, including digital skimming, Magecart and supply chain attacks. And they have good reason to be concerned: 36 percent of those surveyed reported that their websites had been attacked in the past.

“From our perspective, the key issue here is that decision makers are largely in the dark with regard to the security risks that their organizations face, and they are not investing in the tools that will enable them to address these problems. We feel that this is not an issue about lack of willingness to invest to solve the problems, but more about a lack of awareness of the problem and how to address it,” noted Michael D. Osterman, president of Osterman Research, who conducted the survey.

The survey was conducted during July and August 2019 with a total of 307 organizations in the United States at e-commerce, financial services, travel and hospitality, and media and entertainment organizations. To qualify, respondents were required to be familiar with third-party scripts or scripts from third-party libraries and how they are used on their organizations’ websites. For more information, read the full report.