Cross site scripting

Cross Site Scripting (CSS for short, but sometimes abbreviated as XSS) is one of the most common application level attacks that hackers use to sneak into web applications today. Cross site scripting is an attack on the privacy of clients of a particular web site which can lead to a total breach of security when customer details are stolen or manipulated. Unlike most attacks, which involve two parties – the attacker, and the web site, or the attacker and the victim client, the CSS attack involves three parties – the attacker, a client and the web site. The goal of the CSS attack is to steal the client cookies, or any other sensitive information, which can identify the client with the web site. With the token of the legitimate user at hand, the attacker can proceed to act as the user in his/her interaction with the site – specifically, impersonate the user. For example, in one audit conducted for a large company it was possible to peek at the user’s credit card number and private information using a CSS attack. This was achieved by running malicious Javascript code at the victim (client) browser, with the “access privileges” of the web site. These are the very limited Javascript privileges which generally do not let the script access anything but site related information. It should be stressed that although the vulnerability exists at the web site, at no time is the web site directly harmed. Yet this is enough for the script to collect the cookies and send them to the attacker. The result, the attacker gains the cookies and impersonates the victim.


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