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Cross-Site Scripting — Be Aware of These Website Attack Warning Signs

Doing business in 2023’s digital landscape is anything but easy when you’re constantly at risk from bad actors. With data breaches becoming a permanent fixture in the news, your heart probably races when you check your messages in the morning, wondering, “What if my company is the latest victim?”

As a result, you want to prioritize cybersecurity to prevent negative outcomes, but actually understanding how to implement a strategy may feel too daunting.

Even when it comes to a common cyberattack, like cross-site scripting (XSS), many businesses know little about how to circumvent them and avoid compromising their operations. Research shows that more than 60% of web applications are susceptible to cross-site scripting, which accounts for over 30% of all web application attacks.

This article will teach you how cross-site scripting works, how to safeguard your resources, and how user awareness training can strengthen your business’ security. 

What is Cross-Site Scripting?

A version of an injection cyberattack, cross-site scripting occurs when cybercriminals gain access to a user’s browser information by injecting malicious scripts into trustworthy websites, taking advantage of vulnerabilities and manipulating a user’s browser into executing the script. There are two main types of XXS attacks:

  1. Reflected attack. Hackers will trick the user into clicking on a link, filling out a form or visiting a website with a URL containing dangerous code. As a result, the web server will reflect the maliciously injected code without “disinfecting” it since it trusts the code as valid.
  2. Stored attack. With a stored XSS attack, hackers permanently exploit a browser’s vulnerability to store the maliciously-injected code on the server, so the server executes the script every time a user visits the site. 

What Are the Signs?

Businesses might struggle to recognize the signs of an XSS attack because the perpetrators have developed sophisticated strategies to mask their intentions. As a result, detecting and eliminating any unwelcome intruders can be challenging.

However, you may be able to spot a cross-scripting attack if you encounter unfamiliar activity on your website, including browser warnings, website traffic, error messages, pop-ups, and redirects.

How Businesses Can Be Affected by Cross-Site Scripting 

A cross-site scripting attack can have serious business consequences, leading to data leaks, financial losses, legal liabilities, and reputational damage — especially for companies that often work with sensitive information, like banking institutions, healthcare providers, or e-commerce websites that retain payment card details. If the XSS attack involves changing the content of your website, this can also destroy your credibility with your customers, affecting your customer retention and acquisition.

No matter your type of business, an XSS attack can cause extensive damage if they obtain your data from a user with high-level access to your organization’s resources, giving them the ability to control your entire infrastructure. 

How to Prevent This Type of Hacking

Businesses can prevent a cross-site scripting attack by changing their technology use and employee behaviour.

Proactive website security reviews can help businesses analyze their code for possible hacks and find locations where hackers have transformed HTTP requests into HTML outputs. Additionally, turning off HTTP TRACE support on all web servers can help businesses avoid XSS attacks that exploit user cookie data even with disabled document cookies. 

Input filtering, or validation, allows businesses to ensure incoming data is benign before their website or application processes it. On the other end, output encoding offers a defensive technique to prevent XSS attacks, which converts dubious code into text, ensuring it has no power to cause damage. 

Implementing a Content Security Policy (CSP) can also help web developers strengthen their defenses against an XSS attack. A CSP is a security feature that establishes clear directives outlining what types of content the browser can allow on a website.

Finally, training employees on the best practices and offering user awareness training can help your team avoid making mistakes that create vulnerabilities that open you up to an XSS attack.

Improve Your Cybersecurity Posture 

When you partner with PC Corp and have access to our Managed IT Services, together we can improve your organization’s cybersecurity. Our IT experts can implement the most effective protocols and strategies to protect your business from malicious hackers, keeping your data safe and your productivity uninterrupted. Connect with us today to get started on safeguarding your company from XSS attacks.

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