What Is the Target of a Cross Site Scripting Attack?


Angela Bailey

What Is the Target of a Cross Site Scripting Attack?

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) is a type of security vulnerability commonly found in web applications. It occurs when an attacker injects malicious code into a website, which is then executed by unsuspecting users. The Target of a cross-site scripting attack can vary depending on the specific circumstances and the goals of the attacker.

Web Pages

The most common Target of an XSS attack is the web pages themselves. Attackers exploit vulnerabilities in a website’s code to inject malicious scripts that are then loaded and executed by users who visit those pages. These scripts can be used to steal sensitive information, such as login credentials or personal data, from unsuspecting visitors.


  • An attacker identifies an input field on a vulnerable website where user comments are displayed without proper sanitization.
  • The attacker then crafts a comment containing JavaScript code that steals users’ cookies when viewed by other users.
  • When an unsuspecting user visits the page and loads the malicious comment, their browser executes the script, allowing the attacker to access their cookies and potentially gain unauthorized access to sensitive information or perform actions on their behalf.

Web Forms

Another common Target of XSS attacks is web forms. Attackers exploit vulnerabilities in form inputs to inject malicious scripts that are executed when other users interact with those forms. This can be particularly dangerous if the form involves submitting sensitive information, such as credit card details or personal data.


  • An attacker identifies an input field on a vulnerable website’s payment form that does not properly validate or sanitize user input.
  • The attacker then injects a script that captures and sends the user’s payment details to a remote server.
  • When an unsuspecting user enters their payment information into the form and submits it, the injected script is executed, allowing the attacker to intercept and steal their sensitive data.

Third-Party Content

In some cases, the Target of an XSS attack may not be the website itself but rather third-party content embedded within it. This can include advertisements, widgets, or even user-generated content from external sources. Attackers exploit vulnerabilities in these third-party components to inject malicious scripts into a website.


  • An attacker identifies a vulnerability in a widely used advertisement widget that is embedded on various websites.
  • The attacker crafts an advertisement that includes malicious code designed to steal users’ personal information.
  • When users visit websites that host this compromised advertisement, their browsers load and execute the malicious script, putting their sensitive data at risk.


Cross-Site Scripting attacks pose a significant threat to web applications and their users. The Targets of XSS attacks can vary depending on the specific vulnerabilities present in a website’s code. It is crucial for developers to implement proper input validation and output encoding techniques to mitigate the risk of XSS vulnerabilities and protect users from potential harm.

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