Cross-Site Scripting: A Guide for WordPress Users

cross-site scripting WordPress

If you’re concerned about cross-site scripting and how it impacts your WordPress website, you’re definitely not being paranoid. While the vulnerability of cross-site scripting, or XSS, is not exclusive to WordPress site owners, its potential negative impacts on WordPress sites are incredibly important to understand.

In this guide, we’ll break down the cross-site scripting vulnerabilities you need to keep an eye on. Some of this is going to get a bit technical, but at the end of the guide, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about your overall WordPress site security as it relates to cross-site scripting. In addition, you’ll know exactly what to do to avoid an attack.

Now, let’s dive in.

What is Cross-Site Scripting?

Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of malware attack that’s executed by exploiting cross-site vulnerabilities on any WordPress site. In fact, it’s the most common way for WordPress sites to be hacked because there are so many WordPress plugins that have XSS vulnerabilities.

Cross-Site Scripting Explained

What is cross site scripting in even more technical terms?

Cross-site scripting vulnerabilities allow foreign JavaScript code to be carried out on a website. This can be very difficult for WordPress site owners to catch because the attacks that exploit the vulnerability can be a number of different types.

This is even more true if you’re running a very large or complex WordPress site with a lot of plugins that work in unison.

The many different types of XSS attacks can be summarized into two distinct categories:

  • Malicious script that’s executed in the browser on the client’s side
  • Malicious script that’s stored and executed on your server, then served up by a browser

In either of these cases, the hack uses a cross site scripting attack to manipulate the way your site works, or even steal critical site data.

What Makes XSS Attacks Common For WordPress Websites?

As a WordPress user, you may already know how complex some WordPress plugins are. In fact, some plugins that you’re using are even more complex than WordPress core itself.

Unfortunately, the more complex the WordPress plugin, the higher the possibility that you’ll face security issues. Plugin authors know how difficult it is to protect against XSS attacks, and it really does make their job quite a challenge.

Some of the most-esteemed tech giants, such as Facebook, Apple and Google have suffered from XSS attacks in the past. In fact, they employ entire dedicated security teams to minimize the risks of these attacks.

That should help put things in more of a perspective as to how easily an attack can sneak into a WordPress plugin, with far fewer security resources than the tech giants have.

You’re probably wondering how vulnerable your site is to cross

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This article was written by Michael Moore and originally published on WordPress News and Updates from iThemes – iThemes.

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