Is your website slowing down and your traffic dropping for no apparent reason? Is there an ad on your website that you don’t want to see? Do you get pop-ups that you didn’t ask for? In WordPress, you may require X-XSS protection.
An XSS attack on your WordPress site could have caused this. These attacks are common, but they have terrible consequences.
Since 2009, CVE Details has recorded 9,903 serious XSS attacks. However, it’s impossible to say how many of these attacks have gone unnoticed.
The XSS attack is used by hackers to steal data, display their own adverts (typically for illegal pharmaceuticals or adult content), and swindle your consumers, among other things.
However, you don’t need to be concerned because there are simple solutions to secure your website from XSS. Today, we’ll look at how to add X-XSS protection headers to WordPress so that any XSS attempts are automatically blocked.
You’ll discover what response headers are and how to use them. Following that, we’ll provide you a few more WordPress security recommendations to help you protect your WordPress website against XSS and other attacks!
TL;DR – With our All-in-One MalCare Security Solution, you can protect your WordPress website from XSS assaults and any other type of malware. Install the plugin on your WordPress site and rest easy knowing that it will be watched and inspected on a regular basis to safeguard it from harmful attacks.
What is XSS (Cross-Site Scripting) in WordPress?
Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a form of injection attack in which hackers take advantage of security flaws in user inputs on a website. A user input could be a site search bar, a comments section, a contact form, or a login box, or any other location that receives data from the website user.
They take advantage of the numerous types of information that the user can submit into these fields. Cross-scripting assaults come in a variety of forms. We’ll go over two of the most popular XSS attacks here:
Stored Or Persistent XSS Attack
This form of assault is directed at a website’s visitors. Let’s take a closer look at how this works.
Assume that examplesite.com invites user feedback in the form of comments on blog entries on their website. By putting comments on a post, a visitor can share their ideas and ask questions. The comment is sent to the database and stored after it is submitted.
Typically, before the data is transmitted to the database, this comments field should contain specifications to validate it.
It wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a typical text comment and a line of code if the configurations were incorrect.
What the website owner may not realise is that the hacker can also insert a “Click me” button, which is something that should never be allowed.
After that, a regular website visitor (the target) arrives on this page. The malicious code will run and infect the visitor’s browser if this user hits the button. After then, the hacker will be able to steal information from the visitor’s browser cookies.
Cookies can store a variety of data, including login credentials, payment card information, and personal information. When you connect into a website, a pop-up like this appears, asking if you want the browser to remember your password:
A typical user (the target) would have several tabs open in their browser, such as Facebook, email, a shopping site, a work website, YouTube, and so on. If a hacker is successful in launching an XSS attack, the cookies of all websites open in the browser will be stolen. This is why the term “cross-site” was coined. They utilise this data to scam customers or carry out larger attacks.
Even while this attack does not immediately harm your website, it has serious consequences. It puts each and every one of your guests in danger. Furthermore, Google will quickly blacklist your site, and your web hosting account will be suspended.
Reflective Or Non-Persistent XSS Attack
In this attack, hackers attempt to obtain access to the website itself. Let me demonstrate how this works:
Assume you have a search bar on your website where clients can quickly find what they’re looking for. Only letters from the alphabet should be accepted in this tab. However, it hasn’t been set up correctly, and it allows both special characters and numbers. The site’s search engine will be unable to distinguish between user-supplied content and malicious code entered by a hacker.
The malicious code is then placed into the website’s database and executed. When this occurs, the hacker has gained access to the website and can begin carrying out his or her harmful deeds! Worse, they could exploit your website to perform more serious hacking attacks, such as a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.
We now understand the severity of an XSS attack and why we must defend our websites from it. Let’s look at why HTTP security headers protect against XSS attacks.
What Are HTTP Security Headers?
The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) specifies how communications are formatted and sent across the internet.
HTTP response headers are encoded in modern web browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Metadata such as status error codes, content encoding, content security, and cache control are typically included in HTTP secure headers.
When a browser interacts with a website, the response header tells it how to behave. When a user uses Google Chrome to access a website, HTTP headers are used to determine how the browser, the website, and the web server communicate.
To help you grasp this better, we’ll go over one of these HTTP response headers.
If you have an SSL or TLS certificate installed on your website, it indicates that it can only be accessed via HTTPS (a secure connection that encrypts data as it is transferred). Hackers, on the other hand, can use HTTP to get access to your site. A hacker can use one of several scripts easily available on the internet to open your site through HTTP and steal data.
You can use a response header called ‘strict transport security’ to reinforce your SSL certificate and ensure that your site is never visited over HTTP. This will force all modern browsers, including Safari, Chrome, and Firefox, to exclusively communicate with your website via HTTPS. Content sniffing and packet sniffing are no longer a possibility.
If an attacker tries to access your site via HTTP, the browser will simply refuse to load it.
You can add a variety of HTTP security headers to your WordPress site. Today, we’ll look at X-XSS Protection, which will help you prevent or reduce cross-site scripting.
How To Set Up X-XSS Protection in HTTP Security Header
You’ll need to change the.htaccess file and add lines of code to enable HTTP Security Headers. Changing WordPress files at any time is dangerous. A minor blunder could result in a website that is utterly unusable.
As a result, we strongly advise you to make a comprehensive backup of your WordPress site. In only a few minutes, you can take a full backup of your website with the BlogVault plugin. You can immediately restore your website to normal if anything goes wrong throughout this process.
Step 1: Scan Your Website To Check If Header Exists
Check to see if the header is already enabled on your website. You can check with your managed WordPress host or go to securityheaders.com for further information.
We can be certain that no X-XSS protection headers have been set.
Note: X-XSS protection is enabled by default in most browsers. However, by adding this security header to WordPress, the browser will be instructed to block XSS hack attempts.
Step 2: Access Your WordPress .htaccess File
- Go to your WordPress hosting account and log in. Go to cPanel > File Manager from here.
- A list of folders can be found inside. Locate the public html folder in the right side. The.htaccess file can be found here.
Step 3: Insert The WordPress Security Header
Simply right-click on the file and select “Edit” from the drop-down menu.
Add the following line of code at the end of your .htaccess file:
Header set X-XSS-Protection “1; mode=block”
Save the file.
Step 4: Check If The HTTP Response Header Works
We recommend scanning your site using securityheaders to see if the header is working.
That’s all there is to it. By using the security header to prevent XSS attacks, you’ve successfully added a layer of security to your website.
Conclusion: Protection Against All Attacks
We’re confident that your site is now safe against XSS attacks after applying this WordPress security header. But XSS isn’t the only flaw to be concerned about. Your website exists in the digital domain, which exposes it to a slew of threats like hacking and virus attacks.
To prevent hacking attempts and keep your website safe, you’ll need to take a lot of precautions. Install MalCare to give your WordPress site all-around protection. It will routinely examine and monitor your website. It also includes a firewall that prevents rogue IP addresses from entering the system. You may rest easy knowing that your website is safe with MalCare installed. Check out our guide on securing your WordPress site.