The attacker-supplied code can perform a wide variety of actions, such as stealing the victim's session token or login credentials, performing arbitrary actions on the victim's behalf, and logging their keystrokes.
Users can be induced to issue the attacker's crafted request in various ways. For example, the attacker can send a victim a link containing a malicious URL in an email or instant message. They can submit the link to popular web sites that allow content authoring, for example in blog comments. And they can create an innocuous looking web site which causes anyone viewing it to make arbitrary cross-domain requests to the vulnerable application (using either the GET or the POST method).
The security impact of cross-site scripting vulnerabilities is dependent upon the nature of the vulnerable application, the kinds of data and functionality which it contains, and the other applications which belong to the same domain and organisation. If the application is used only to display non-sensitive public content, with no authentication or access control functionality, then a cross-site scripting flaw may be considered low risk. However, if the same application resides on a domain which can access cookies for other more security-critical applications, then the vulnerability could be used to attack those other applications, and so may be considered high risk. Similarly, if the organisation which owns the application is a likely target for phishing attacks, then the vulnerability could be leveraged to lend credibility to such attacks, by injecting Trojan functionality into the vulnerable application, and exploiting users' trust in the organisation in order to capture credentials for other applications which it owns. In many kinds of application, such as those providing online banking functionality, cross-site scripting should always be considered high risk.
In most situations where user-controllable data is copied into application responses, cross-site scripting attacks can be prevented using two layers of defences:
Input should be validated as strictly as possible on arrival, given the kind of content which it is expected to contain. For example, personal names should consist of alphabetical and a small range of typographical characters, and be relatively short; a year of birth should consist of exactly four numerals; email addresses should match a well-defined regular expression. Input which fails the validation should be rejected, not sanitised.
User input should be HTML-encoded at any point where it is copied into application responses. All HTML metacharacters, including < > " ' and =, should be replaced with the corresponding HTML entities (< > etc).
In cases where the application's functionality allows users to author content using a restricted subset of HTML tags and attributes (for example, blog comments which allow limited formatting and linking), it is necessary to parse the supplied HTML to validate that it does not use any dangerous syntax; this is a non-trivial task.
The value of the cid request parameter is copied into the HTML document as plain text between tags. The payload b7bed<script>alert(1)</script>332cdce6727 was submitted in the cid parameter. This input was echoed unmodified in the application's response.
The value of the dsid request parameter is copied into the HTML document as plain text between tags. The payload a47c2<script>alert(1)</script>9e6f70f3e38 was submitted in the dsid parameter. This input was echoed unmodified in the application's response.
The application attempts to block certain characters that are often used in XSS attacks but this can be circumvented by submitting a URL-encoded NULL byte (%00) anywhere before the characters that are being blocked.
Echoing user-controllable data within a script context is inherently dangerous and can make XSS attacks difficult to prevent. If at all possible, the application should avoid echoing user data within this context. NULL byte bypasses typically arise when the application is being defended by a web application firewall (WAF) that is written in native code, where strings are terminated by a NULL byte. You should fix the actual vulnerability within the application code, and if appropriate ask your WAF vendor to provide a fix for the NULL byte bypass.
The value of the templateid request parameter is copied into the HTML document as plain text between tags. The payload b1d40<script>alert(1)</script>12924e373c4 was submitted in the templateid parameter. This input was echoed unmodified in the application's response.
Passwords submitted over an unencrypted connection are vulnerable to capture by an attacker who is suitably positioned on the network. This includes any malicious party located on the user's own network, within their ISP, within the ISP used by the application, and within the application's hosting infrastructure. Even if switched networks are employed at some of these locations, techniques exist to circumvent this defence and monitor the traffic passing through switches.
The application should use transport-level encryption (SSL or TLS) to protect all sensitive communications passing between the client and the server. Communications that should be protected include the login mechanism and related functionality, and any functions where sensitive data can be accessed or privileged actions can be performed. These areas of the application should employ their own session handling mechanism, and the session tokens used should never be transmitted over unencrypted communications. If HTTP cookies are used for transmitting session tokens, then the secure flag should be set to prevent transmission over clear-text HTTP.
There is usually no good reason not to set the HttpOnly flag on all cookies. Unless you specifically require legitimate client-side scripts within your application to read or set a cookie's value, you should set the HttpOnly flag by including this attribute within the relevant Set-cookie directive.
You should be aware that the restrictions imposed by the HttpOnly flag can potentially be circumvented in some circumstances, and that numerous other serious attacks can be delivered by client-side script injection, aside from simple cookie stealing.
Most browsers have a facility to remember user credentials that are entered into HTML forms. This function can be configured by the user and also by applications which employ user credentials. If the function is enabled, then credentials entered by the user are stored on their local computer and retrieved by the browser on future visits to the same application.
The stored credentials can be captured by an attacker who gains access to the computer, either locally or through some remote compromise. Further, methods have existed whereby a malicious web site can retrieve the stored credentials for other applications, by exploiting browser vulnerabilities or through application-level cross-domain attacks.
To prevent browsers from storing credentials entered into HTML forms, you should include the attribute autocomplete="off" within the FORM tag (to protect all form fields) or within the relevant INPUT tags (to protect specific individual fields).
The cookie does not appear to contain a session token, which may reduce the risk associated with this issue. You should review the contents of the cookie to determine its function.
By default, cookies are scoped to the issuing domain and all subdomains. If you remove the explicit domain attribute from your Set-cookie directive, then the cookie will have this default scope, which is safe and appropriate in most situations. If you particularly need a cookie to be accessible by a parent domain, then you should thoroughly review the security of the applications residing on that domain and its subdomains, and confirm that you are willing to trust the people and systems which support those applications.
GET / HTTP/1.1 Host: www.answers.com Proxy-Connection: keep-alive User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.1; en-US) AppleWebKit/534.16 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/10.0.648.204 Safari/534.16 Accept: application/xml,application/xhtml+xml,text/html;q=0.9,text/plain;q=0.8,image/png,*/*;q=0.5 Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate,sdch Accept-Language: en-US,en;q=0.8 Accept-Charset: ISO-8859-1,utf-8;q=0.7,*;q=0.3 Cookie: lc=nt013; __utmz=31541870.1300982750.1.1.utmcsr=(direct)|utmccn=(direct)|utmcmd=(none); __qca=P0-439876738-1300982780391; CP=null*; __utma=31541870.55348645.1300982750.1300982750.1300982750.1; WSS_GW=V1z%Xrr^iB@B%; CTG=1300983889
When a web browser makes a request for a resource, it typically adds an HTTP header, called the "Referer" header, indicating the URL of the resource from which the request originated. This occurs in numerous situations, for example when a web page loads an image or script, or when a user clicks on a link or submits a form.
If the resource being requested resides on a different domain, then the Referer header is still generally included in the cross-domain request. If the originating URL contains any sensitive information within its query string, such as a session token, then this information will be transmitted to the other domain. If the other domain is not fully trusted by the application, then this may lead to a security compromise.
You should review the contents of the information being transmitted to other domains, and also determine whether those domains are fully trusted by the originating application.
Today's browsers may withhold the Referer header in some situations (for example, when loading a non-HTTPS resource from a page that was loaded over HTTPS, or when a Refresh directive is issued), but this behaviour should not be relied upon to protect the originating URL from disclosure.
Note also that if users can author content within the application then an attacker may be able to inject links referring to a domain they control in order to capture data from URLs used within the application.
The application should never transmit any sensitive information within the URL query string. In addition to being leaked in the Referer header, such information may be logged in various locations and may be visible on-screen to untrusted parties.
When an application includes a script from an external domain, this script is executed by the browser within the security context of the invoking application. The script can therefore do anything that the application's own scripts can do, such as accessing application data and performing actions within the context of the current user.
If you include a script from an external domain, then you are trusting that domain with the data and functionality of your application, and you are trusting the domain's own security to prevent an attacker from modifying the script to perform malicious actions within your application.
Scripts should not be included from untrusted domains. If you have a requirement which a third-party script appears to fulfil, then you should ideally copy the contents of that script onto your own domain and include it from there. If that is not possible (e.g. for licensing reasons) then you should consider reimplementing the script's functionality within your own code.
The TRACE method is designed for diagnostic purposes. If enabled, the web server will respond to requests which use the TRACE method by echoing in its response the exact request which was received.
Although this behaviour is apparently harmless in itself, it can sometimes be leveraged to support attacks against other application users. If an attacker can find a way of causing a user to make a TRACE request, and can retrieve the response to that request, then the attacker will be able to capture any sensitive data which is included in the request by the user's browser, for example session cookies or credentials for platform-level authentication. This may exacerbate the impact of other vulnerabilities, such as cross-site scripting.
The TRACE method should be disabled on the web server.
The file robots.txt is used to give instructions to web robots, such as search engine crawlers, about locations within the web site which robots are allowed, or not allowed, to crawl and index.
The presence of the robots.txt does not in itself present any kind of security vulnerability. However, it is often used to identify restricted or private areas of a site's contents. The information in the file may therefore help an attacker to map out the site's contents, especially if some of the locations identified are not linked from elsewhere in the site. If the application relies on robots.txt to protect access to these areas, and does not enforce proper access control over them, then this presents a serious vulnerability.
The robots.txt file is not itself a security threat, and its correct use can represent good practice for non-security reasons. You should not assume that all web robots will honour the file's instructions. Rather, assume that attackers will pay close attention to any locations identified in the file. Do not rely on robots.txt to provide any kind of protection over unauthorised access.
GET /robots.txt HTTP/1.0 Host: www.answers.com
HTTP/1.1 200 OK Date: Mon, 28 Mar 2011 14:13:48 GMT Server: Apache Last-Modified: Sun, 06 Mar 2011 12:39:36 GMT Accept-Ranges: bytes Content-Length: 273 Keep-Alive: timeout=5, max=57 Connection: close Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1