Credit card data thieves, commonly known as Magecart groups, typically use JavaScript code injected into compromised third-party components of e-commerce websites to harvest data from shoppers to commit fraud.

A classic example was a Magecart group’s compromise of Inbenta Technologies’ natural language processing software used to answer user questions by UK-based ticketing website, Ticketmaster.

The Magecart group inserted malicious JavaScript into the Inbenta JavaScript code, enabling the cyber criminals to harvest all the customer credit card data submitted to the Ticketmaster website.  

As a result, Ticketmaster is facing a £5m lawsuit on behalf of Ticketmaster customers targeted by fraud as well as a potential GDPR fine by the Information Commissioner’s Office, which is yet to publish the findings of its investigation.

A data breach at British Airways linked to similar tactics potentially by a Magecart group resulted in the Information Commissioner’s Office announcing in July 2019 that they are considering a fine for the company of more than €200m.

According to security researchers, the breach of Ticketmaster customer data was part of a larger campaign that targeted at least 800 websites.

This is a major problem for retailers, with an Akamai tool called Request Map showing that more than 90% of content on most websites comes from third-party sources, over which website owners have little or no control.

These scripts effectively give attackers direct access to website users, and once they are loaded in the browser, they can link to other malicious content without the knowledge of website operators.

Current web security offerings are unable to address and manage this problem, and a Content Security Policy (CSP) alone is inadequate to deal with potentially thousands of scripts running on a website.  Akamai is therefore developing and bringing a new product to market that is dedicated to helping retailers reduce the risk posed by third-party links and elements of their websites for things like advertising, customer support and performance management.

The new service dubbed Page Integrity Manager has completed initial testing and is now entering the beta testing phase with up to 25 volunteer customers with a range of different data types.

The aim of Akamai Page Integrity Manager is to enable website operators to detect and stop third-party breaches before their users are impacted. The service is designed to discover and assess the risk of new or modified JavaScript, control third-party access to sensitive forms or data fields using machine learning to identify relevant information, enable automated mitigation using policy-based controls, and block bad actors using Akamai threat intelligence to improve accuracy.

The service works by inserting a JavaScript into customer web pages to analyze all content received by the browser from the host organization and third parties. This will identify and block any scripts trying to access and exfiltrate financial or other personal data (form-jacking) as well as notify the website operator.

Third-party JavaScripts massively increase the attack surface and ramp up the risk for website operators and visitors alike with no practical and effective way for website operators to detect the threat and mitigate the risk, but that is set to change with the commercial availability of Akamai’s Page Integrity Manager expected in early 2020.

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