Saturday, April 25, 2009

More on Blacklisting and XSS

Following up on my last post, another scenario where blacklisting of angle brackets doesn't work to stop XSS is where untrusted data is output into an existing section of script. Consider a JSP application that takes a URL parameter and outputs it within opening and closing <script> tags. If encoding is not being done, which it often isn't, then an XSS attack would be possible. An attacker would simply close the previous executable line of script with a semicolon and immediately follow that with his malicious script.

An example of how this might occur is shown below. A JSP defines a JavaScript function called "gotoPreferences()", which causes the browser to re-navigate to a URL ("prefURL"). Note that prefURL is constructed dynamically by incorporating untrusted data -- the "category" parameter.

<script type="JavaScript">
function gotoPreferences()
var prefURL="" + <%= request.getParameter("category") %> + ";"

To exploit XSS, an attacker might set the value of "category" to:


The resulting line in the HTML would then be:

var prefURL="" + "";location.href="";

When the function was called, the victim would be navigated to the attacker's site instead of the expected URL.


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