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Communications of the ACM

Practice

Thou Shalt Not Depend on Me


Thou Shalt Not Depend on Me, illustration

Credit: TeePublic

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Many websites use third-party components such as JavaScript libraries, which bundle useful functionality so that developers can avoid reinventing the wheel. jQuery (https://jquery.com/) is arguably the most popular open source JavaScript library at the moment; it is found on 84% of the most popular websites as determined by Amazon's Alexa (https://www.alexa.com/topsites). But what happens when libraries have security issues? Chances are that websites using such libraries inherit these issues and become vulnerable to attacks.

Given the risk of using a library with known vulnerabilities, it is important to know how often this happens in practice and, more importantly, who is to blame for the inclusion of vulnerable libraries—the developer of the website, or maybe a third-party advertisement, or tracker code loaded on the website?


 

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