Include Me Out: In-Browser Detection of Malicious Third-Party Content Inclusions

Sajjad Arshad, Amin Kharraz, William Robertson
In Proceedings of the International Conference on Financial Cryptography and Data Security (FC)

malware

Modern websites include various types of third-party content such as JavaScript, images, stylesheets, and Flash objects in order to create interactive user interfaces. In addition to explicit inclusion of third-party content by website publishers, ISPs and browser extensions are hijacking web browsing sessions with increasing frequency to inject third-party content (e.g., ads). However, third-party content can also introduce security risks to users of these websites, unbeknownst to both website operators and users. Because of the often highly dynamic nature of these inclusions as well as the use of advanced cloaking techniques in contemporary malware, it is exceedingly difficult to preemptively recognize and block inclusions of malicious third-party content before it has the chance to attack the user’s system.

In this paper, we propose a novel approach to achieving the goal of preemptive blocking of malicious third-party content inclusion through an analysis of inclusion sequences on the Web. We implemented our approach, called Excision, as a set of modifications to the Chromium browser that protects users from malicious inclusions while web pages load. Our analysis suggests that by adopting our in-browser approach, users can avoid a significant portion of malicious third-party content on the Web. Our evaluation shows that Excision effectively identifies malicious content while introducing a low false positive rate. Our experiments also demonstrate that our approach does not negatively impact a user’s browsing experience when browsing popular websites drawn from the Alexa Top 500.