How to stay safe from Cross-Site Scripting attacks on your website

The digital landscape has changed and evolved significantly over the last decades. With new, innovative technologies emerging on a regular basis, we grow more and more confident in the power of the internet, this vast virtual space now able to accommodate even our most extravagant needs.

Yet what many people tend to forget is that emerging technologies bring with them emerging threats. These are becoming more and more complex, thus harder to prevent, mitigate or stop altogether. Sure enough, a lot of effort is consistently being put in building new strategies and tools to help us make the internet a safer space.

One of the most essential measures we can all consider taking in this sense is educate ourselves. These cyber attacks are as diverse as they are vicious. Therefore, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy to deal with them. Instead, one must learn to employ customized strategies of prevention and mitigation, depending on the threat they are facing.

What is Cross-Site Scripting?

In this article, you will learn how to stay safe from Cross-Site Scripting attacks on your website. If you’ve never heard the term before, Cross-Site Scripting or XSS is a cyber-attack whereby a user’s web browser is tricked into processing a “script” as coming from a legitimate website or web application when it is actually coming from a malicious source.

How does it affect you?

Through such an attack, a hacker can gain access to your sensitive information, credentials, etc. He can do so by viewing all the cookies and controlling the browser remotely, bypassing all CSRF protections and gaining admin control. This type of attacks is most common on WordPress, where, according to a recent study, 47% of WordPress vulnerabilities are Cross Site Scripting vulnerabilities.

How can you prevent such an attack?

To prevent XSS attacks on your website, be sure to:

  • Encode all variable output in a page before its return to the end user;
  • Filter all external data to remove suspicious keywords like for instance, JavaScript commands;
  • Convert each character to its HTML entity so that the malicious scripting code is not an output as part of the page.

By following these simple guidelines, you should be safe from malicious XSS attacks on your website. Good luck!

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