Mayall: a framework for desktop JavaScript auditing and post-exploitation analysis

Adam Rapley, Xavier Bellekens*, Lynsay A. Shepherd, Colin McLean

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
162 Downloads (Pure)


Writing desktop applications in JavaScript offers developers the opportunity to write cross-platform applications with cutting edge capabilities. However in doing so, they are potentially submitting their code to a number of unsanctioned modifications from malicious actors. Electron is one such JavaScript application framework which facilitates this multi-platform out-the-box paradigm and is based upon the Node.js JavaScript runtime --- an increasingly popular server-side technology. In bringing this technology to the client-side environment, previously unrealized risks are exposed to users due to the powerful system programming interface that Node.js exposes. In a concerted effort to highlight previously unexposed risks in these rapidly expanding frameworks, this paper presents the Mayall Framework, an extensible toolkit aimed at JavaScript security auditing and post-exploitation analysis. The paper also exposes fifteen highly popular Electron applications and demonstrates that two thirds of applications were found to be using known vulnerable elements with high CVSS scores. Moreover, this paper discloses a wide-reaching and overlooked vulnerability within the Electron Framework which is a direct byproduct of shipping the runtime unaltered with each application, allowing malicious actors to modify source code and inject covert malware inside verified and signed applications without restriction. Finally, a number of injection vectors are explored and appropriate remediations are proposed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number46
Number of pages20
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2018


  • JavaScript
  • Node.js
  • Security vulnerabilities
  • Arbitrary code execution
  • Post-exploitation


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