New York Times articles’ pages dated before 2013 may suffer from an XSS (Cross-site Scripting) vulnerability, according to the report posted by security researcher Wang Jing. Wang is a mathematics Ph.D student from School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He published his discovery in well-known security mail list Full Disclosure.
According to Wang, all pages before 2013 that contain buttons such as “PRINT”,”SINGLE PAGE”, “Page” and “NEXT PAGE” are affected by the XSS vulnerability. Meanwhile, the researcher also published a proof of concept video to prove the existence of the XSS flaw.
As of yet, there are no known cases of criminals exploiting the Times’ XSS issue in order to attack users. However, according to Wang, the threat is possible, and the New York Times has a big enough audience that an XSS attack, even via its older articles, could still affect a broad number of users. The affected New York Times articles are still indexed in Google search engines, and are still frequently hyperlinked in other articles.
However according to the researcher, New York Times has now a much safer mechanism, implemented sometime in 2013, that sanitizes all URLs sent to its server.
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities usually reside in web applications and can be used by attackers to modify the normal flow of the web page. A cybercriminal can use it easily to perform URL redirect, mine for victim’s browser details, session hijacking, phishing, or even steal cookies.
XSS issues are not entirely uncommon. So far we have seen that Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook all had this kind issue reported.