What is a Fourth Party Script?

Fourth party scripts are tools and features that run on a website that are initiated by third party scripts. Essentially, fourth party scripts allow for additional content and applications, aimed to support different website functionalities, to run on a user’s website. Once a user has selected third party vendors to run their features, these vendors may then utilize additional vendors to support their applications ultimately providing the user with the feature they desire. While fourth party scripts have the potential to assist users in developing their ideal websites, there are potential risks in running fourth party scripts when it comes to the security and privacy of a website.

Benefits of Fourth Party Scripts

While there is a potential cybersecurity risk when it comes to the use of fourth party scripts, the benefits can just as easily be recognized. Depending on the needs and purpose of a website’s functionality, a user may solicit third party scripts for the need of specified plugins that feature dynamic applications and tools. The benefit of running third parties scripts is the ability to have the features needed to advance a website’s capability at lower costs that may include fourth party scripts to run on the site as well. This, in turn, will provide the user with much more website potential and functionality without managing several third parties and most importantly at will save the user costs.

Challenges of Fourth Party Scripts

While a fourth party script can amplify the overall abilities of a website, it’s most crucial problem is that the user has no control over which fourth party scripts run on their site. Any additional fourth party scripts that are running, originate from the third parties that choose them. With a lack of monitoring and control, a user’s website may be at risk for security threats.

Supply Chain Attacks: Fourth party scripts are essentially vendors that are outsourced by other vendors. With multiple parties involved, a user’s information is susceptible to being exposed if a supply chain attack occurs. A fourth party script runs the risk of highlighting vulnerabilities in a supply chain that hackers will then manipulate to intercept sensitive data.

Functionality Failure: If, for example, a fourth party script runs a specific feature that fails, a website will display that ineffective feature to its site’s visitors. Furthermore, the user may not understand what prompted the issue unless there is a tracking system of some sort that will lead the error to the specific fourth party script responsible. For users, not having control over selected fourth parties can run the risk of website failures and not being able to source the error.

How to Manage Fourth Party Scripts

Whether the user is aware of fourth party scripts running on their websites or not, it’s important for users to apply a tracking method of some sort. When selecting third party scripts, it’s important for the user to assess the transparency of the third party to verify their choice and responsibility of the fourth party script they choose.