IS YOUR WEBSITE EASY TO HACK?
Recently, WordPress announced a security and maintenance release of WordPress 4.9.2, in response to a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability that was discovered in the Flash fallback files. The files have since been removed and users are encouraged to update their WordPress sites immediately.
WHAT IS A CROSS-SITE SCRIPTING (XSS) ATTACK?
Cross-site scripting (XSS) refers to a code injection (or insertion) from the side of a client or customer. Attackers are able to inject malicious code scripts into legitimate websites or web applications, like that of a user’s favorite news site or social media site, in an effort to obtain access or control.
XSS attacks are one of the most widespread security vulnerabilities and can severely threaten your site’s functionality and credibility.
HOW DO XSS ATTACKS HAPPEN?
Similar to a hunter’s trap, an XSS attack requires two things: An unsuspecting victim and the victim’s participation (input).
Typically, in order for XSS attackers to exploit a security vulnerability, a malicious code or script is planted onto a trusted website and left to execute its processes once input by the victim is received.
Examples of user input come in a variety of forms:
- Filling in a form with personal information (name, date of birth, credit card information, etc.)
- Leaving comments or feedback
- Entering login and password credentials
Once input is entered, the user will likely click on a submit button and (unknowingly) set off the malicious script. This script is known as a payload.
WHAT DO XSS ATTACKERS HAVE ACCESS TO?
An attacker that uses a malicious XSS payload can have access to all the information that’s found on the website. Items such as, site cookies, geo-location, login names and passwords, and other personal information.
Access to such information makes it easier for attackers to impersonate a victim and gain financial advantage.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PREVENT XSS VULNERABILITY ATTACKS?
Apart from moving to an abandoned cabin in the middle of a desolate forest, there are a variety of practices one can implement to prevent XSS attacks:
- Never install applications or modules from untrusted sites onto your website.
- Run web vulnerability scans on a regular basis.
- Update your website’s plugins and software, when available.
Additionally, when choosing a website provider or host, choose one that prioritizes performance and security above all else.
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