Unrestricted third-party content can also lead to serious problems that could cost companies lost revenue and expose them to security and compliance risks.
Building, implementing, and managing a Content Security Policy (CSP) can help you understand and control all of the third-party content running rampant across your digital properties.
It plays an important and often misunderstood role in safeguarding your sites and applications against online threats, while also protecting your brand and customers.
Not only does a CSP help protect your site from data breaches caused by cross-site scripting (XSS) and formjacking attacks, but it can also prevent client-side malware from injecting unwanted ads on your site causing friction in your customers’ digital experience.
Sounds pretty straight forward, right?
This is often where the easy part ends and the questions begin.
CSP can be a complex topic. So, let’s set the record straight on a few CSP myths.
True, Content Security Policies were created to address and mitigate a specific type of web security threat known as Cross-Site Scripting (XSS).
XSS is a vulnerability that allows attackers to inject malicious scripts into web pages viewed by other users. These scripts can then execute in the context of the victim's web browser, potentially stealing sensitive information, manipulating the user's session, or engaging in other harmful activities.
By enforcing a CSP, web applications can define which scripts are allowed to execute and which sources are considered trustworthy. Any attempt to inject malicious scripts from unapproved sources is blocked, reducing the risk of XSS attacks.
However, the protective powers of a CSP extend far beyond that. By restricting content sources, a CSP defends against poor site performance, undesirable third-party content, browser hijacking and ad injection, and unauthorized piggyback tags resulting in compliance risks.
A CSP is designed to restrict the execution of scripts and other resources from untrusted sources. So, if the policy is overly restrictive or misconfigured, it can prevent legitimate scripts and resources from loading as intended.
However, a well-crafted, carefully implemented CSP will avoid disrupting the user experience and essential site functionality. In fact, a CSP can help improve poor site performance caused by forgotten and needless third-party content creating costly friction for customers.
Collaboration between security, development, and web operations teams is crucial to ensuring that your CSP is configured effectively. Leveraging an automated CSP Manager to build your CSP code can also prevent human code errors that can create problems.
A CSP is not limited to large enterprise websites; it can benefit websites of all sizes. It also has benefits on all webpages and not just pages that handle sensitive user data or transactions, such as check out pages.
While high-volume transactional sites may have more complex business and security needs for a CSP, all sites can reap the benefits of controlling third-party content, creating a safer user experience, and protecting brand reputation.
Even though revenue, trust and loyalty loss could be significant and potentially millions of customers exposed to risk, few companies actually have a CSP in place.
According to one source, only 2% of sites have implemented “perfect” CSPs. The vast majority of CSP implementation is missing key data or involves unsafe adoption.
While a CSP might sound technical, it’s not exclusively for development or security teams. The significance and implications of a CSP extend across multiple stakeholders in an organization, including:
A CSP should not be treated as a “set it and forget it” security measure. It requires ongoing attention and maintenance to remain effective and avoid costly unintended consequences.
Sites are dynamically and continuously evolving, such as content being added and removed or undergoing script changes. Likewise, the Five Friction Forces are constantly fluctuating and new security threats emerge every day, so you must regularly assess your policy to strike a balance between security, site performance, and delivering frictionless user experiences.
When it comes to adopting a CSP, here are the facts you need to know to harness its full potential: