Finding Cross-Site Scripting

PortSwigger has posted some solid methodology on how to find common cross-site scripting vulnerabilities (linked below). I would highly recommend reading this as it's one of the most detailed guides on identifying cross-site scripting vulnerabilities online.

  • Test every entry point. Test separately every entry point for data within the application's HTTP requests. This includes parameters or other data within the URL query string and message body, and the URL file path. It also includes HTTP headers, although XSS-like behavior that can only be triggered via certain HTTP headers may not be exploitable in practice.

  • Submit random alphanumeric values. For each entry point, submit a unique random value and determine whether the value is reflected in the response. The value should be designed to survive most input validation, so needs to be fairly short and contain only alphanumeric characters. But it needs to be long enough to make accidental matches within the response highly unlikely. A random alphanumeric value of around 8 characters is normally ideal. You can use Burp Intruder's number payloads

  • Determine the reflection context. For each location within the response where the random value is reflected, determine its context. This might be in text between HTML tags, within a tag attribute which might be quoted, within a JavaScript string, etc.

  • Test a candidate payload. Based on the context of the reflection, test an initial candidate XSS payload that will trigger JavaScript execution if it is reflected unmodified within the response. The easiest way to test payloads is to send the request to Burp Repeater, modify the request to insert the candidate payload, issue the request, and then review the response to see if the payload worked. An efficient way to work is to leave the original random value in the request and place the candidate XSS payload before or after it. Then set the random value as the search term in Burp Repeater's response view. Burp will highlight each location where the search term appears, letting you quickly locate the reflection.

  • Test alternative payloads. If the candidate XSS payload was modified by the application, or blocked altogether, then you will need to test alternative payloads and techniques that might deliver a working XSS attack based on the context of the reflection and the type of input validation that is being performed. For more details, see cross-site scripting contexts.

  • Test the attack in a browser. Finally, if you succeed in finding a payload that appears to work within Burp Repeater, transfer the attack to a real browser (by pasting the URL into the address bar, or by modifying the request in Burp Proxy's intercept view, and see if the injected JavaScript is indeed executed. Often, it is best to execute some simple JavaScript like alert(document.domain) which will trigger a visible popup within the browser if the attack succeeds.

Additional Tips

Use web archive to identify potential parameters that may be susceptible to common injection vulnerabilities:*&output=text&fl=original&collapse=urlkey&from=

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