As we speak, there are around two billion websites on the web, and the average user visits at least 15 sites per day.
Are most of them secure, and how can you ensure that you browse the net with complete peace of mind?
Cross-site scripting (XSS) attack is a damaging type of cyberattack that exploits the vulnerabilities of trusted websites and threatens to uncover sensitive data of its users.
Here is everything you need to know about it as a website owner and as a casual internet user.
What is an XSS Attack?
XSS, commonly known as a cross-site scripting attack, refers to the injection of malicious code into various types of websites. That is possible due to vulnerabilities of insufficiently protected application-based websites.
Therefore, even though most cyberattacks aim at damaging the application website, XSS focuses on the end-user of the site. After visiting the site, a user can end up with a notorious Trojan on their computer or give away its private data without consent.
Types of Cross-Site Scripting
Understanding how this malicious code can find itself in your browser while you scour the internet can help you with detection and managing vulnerabilities in cybersecurity systems. These types of attacks have targeted some of the biggest names in the business, such as Google Maps and Tik Tok.
There are two types of cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks: stored and reflected.
Let’s start with the stored XSS cyberattack – also regarded as the more dangerous of the two. The stored type requires injecting the malicious code directly into the site.
This approach makes use of weaknesses of a particular website, and so visitors are subjected to it every time they open the site. Meanwhile, it uses the customer’s session cookies to access their accounts and obtain private information.
A reflected XSS attack relies on you or your website visitors to click on the provided link that contains malicious code.
That link can be sent to victims either via email or be left as part of the comment in the comment section of a variety of social media sites.
Even though they are less damaging, these types of attacks are more common. The link is sent to numerous users, by which cyber criminals increase their chances for the attack to occur.
Who Should Worry About Cross-Site Scripting Attacks?
Cross-site scripting attacks are damaging to both website owners and visitors. This type of attack targets customers and users of the website instead of the application itself. However, it exploits vulnerabilities that can be found on any web application.
Therefore, both the reputation of a website and the visitor’s sensitive data is endangered by this cyber threat.
As for the type of websites that are in danger, XSS can target both trusted and complex e-commerce sites as well as personal blogs.
The most common types of XSS attacks occur on websites that require content sharing on the user’s part. That is to say, various social networks, blogs, platforms for sharing of the video, and blogs are susceptible to such attacks.
XSS Attack Protection
WAF (Web Application Firewall) is often recommended to ward off unwanted attacks such as XSS. However, it requires regular maintenance, and it can affect the performance of your PC.
As mentioned, there are two ways of malicious code finding its way into the browser of your clients – by reflected or stored cross-site scripting (XSS). The protection of your website and clients depend on the type of attack.
For instance, for the reflected type, it can be sufficient to avoid clicking on clickbait links in the comments section of social media platforms.
As for prevention of the stored type, that requires at least WAF to block the attacks.
What makes cross-site scripting especially dangerous is its malicious code that targets users of the website directly. The attack can occur even when you find yourself browsing reputable sites that have been building trust with their customers and visitors for years.
Therefore, it’s vital to protect your website before the attack even occurs by scanning for vulnerabilities and having protection software such as WAF to account for possible cyberattacks.