What Can Cross Site Scripting Do?


Angela Bailey

Cross Site Scripting (XSS) is a type of web vulnerability that occurs when a website allows users to input data, which is then displayed on the same website without proper validation. This vulnerability can have serious consequences, as it allows an attacker to inject malicious scripts into the website and potentially steal sensitive information or perform unauthorized actions on behalf of the user.

What Can Cross Site Scripting Do?

1. Cookie Theft:
One of the most common uses of Cross Site Scripting is to steal user cookies.

Cookies are small pieces of data stored in a user’s browser, which are often used for authentication and session management. With XSS, an attacker can inject a script that captures the user’s cookies and sends them back to the attacker’s server. This allows the attacker to impersonate the user and gain unauthorized access to their accounts.

2. Session Hijacking:
Another dangerous consequence of XSS is session hijacking.

By injecting a script into a vulnerable website, an attacker can steal the user’s session token or session ID. With this information, they can effectively hijack the user’s session and gain access to their account without needing any login credentials.

3. Defacement:
XSS can also be used for defacing websites by injecting malicious scripts that modify the appearance or content of a webpage. This can include replacing images or text with offensive content, redirecting users to malicious websites, or even completely changing the layout of the page.

4. Phishing Attacks:
With XSS, attackers can create convincing phishing attacks by injecting scripts that display fake login forms on legitimate websites. When unsuspecting users enter their credentials into these forms, they are unknowingly sending their login information directly to the attacker.

5. Keylogging:
By injecting keylogging scripts into vulnerable websites through XSS, attackers can capture every keystroke made by the user. This allows them to gather sensitive information such as passwords, credit card details, or personal messages.

6. Malware Distribution:
XSS can also be used as an entry point for distributing malware to unsuspecting users. By injecting scripts that redirect users to malicious websites or download malicious files, attackers can infect users’ devices with malware, which can then lead to further compromises of their systems.

To protect against XSS attacks, it is crucial for website developers to implement proper input validation and output encoding techniques. Input validation ensures that user-supplied data is properly filtered and sanitized before being displayed on the website. Output encoding ensures that any user input displayed on the website is properly escaped to prevent script execution.

By understanding the potential dangers of Cross Site Scripting and taking appropriate security measures, developers can protect their websites and users from these types of attacks.


Cross Site Scripting (XSS) is a serious web vulnerability that can have severe consequences for both websites and their users. From stealing cookies and hijacking sessions to defacing websites and distributing malware, XSS allows attackers to exploit vulnerabilities in web applications and compromise user data or perform unauthorized actions.

It is essential for developers to be aware of XSS vulnerabilities and employ proper security practices when building websites. By implementing input validation and output encoding techniques, developers can mitigate the risk of XSS attacks and safeguard their users’ information.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to web security, so stay informed about the latest security practices and regularly update your codebase to ensure a secure browsing experience for all users.

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