All Links to New York Times Articles Prior to 2013 Vulnerable to XSS Attacks

URLs to articles in New York Times (NYT) published before 2013 have been found to be vulnerable to an XSS (cross-site scripting) attack capable of delivering code to be executed in the context of the web browser.


Based on The New York TImes’ Design, Almost all URLs before 2013 are affected (All pages of articles). In fact, all article pages that contain “PRINT” button, “SINGLE PAGE” button, “Page *” button, “NEXT PAGE” button are affected.


The New York Times changed this mechanism since 2013. It decodes the URLs sent to its server. This makes the mechanism much safer now.




However, all URLs before 2013 are still using the old mechanism. This means almost all article pages before 2013 are still vulnerable to XSS attacks. I guess the reason Nytimes does not filter URLs before is cost. It costs too much (money & human capital) to change the database of all posted articles before.


The Vulnerability was found by a mathematics PhD student Wang Jing from School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences(SPMS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.


POC and Blog explanation given by Wang,


Meanwhile, Wang said that “The New York Times has adopted a new mechanism now. This is a better protection mechanism.”



Even if the articles are old, the pages are still relevant
An attack on more recent articles would definitely have had a significant impact, but articles from 2012 or even older are far from being obsolete. They would still be relevant in the context of an attack.


Cybercriminals can devise various ways to send the link to potential victims and record high success rates, all the more with targeted attacks.



What is XSS?
Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of computer security vulnerability typically found in Web applications. XSS enables attackers to inject client-side script into Web pages viewed by other users. A cross-site scripting vulnerability may be used by attackers to bypass access controls such as the same origin policy. Cross-site scripting carried out on websites accounted for roughly 84% of all security vulnerabilities documented by Symantec as of 2007. (Wikipedia)

Mozilla Online Website Two Sub-Domains XSS (Cross-site Scripting) Bugs ( All URLs Under the Two Domains)




(The two domains above are almost the same)



Websites information:
“, are cross references designed to display the Mozilla source code. The sources displayed are those that are currently checked in to the mainline of the CVS server, Mercurial Server, and Subversion Server; these pages are updated many times a day, so they should be pretty close to the latest‑and‑greatest.” (from Mozilla)


“Mozilla is a free-software community which produces the Firefox web browser. The Mozilla community uses, develops, spreads and supports Mozilla products, thereby promoting exclusively free software and open standards, with only minor exceptions. The community is supported institutionally by the Mozilla Foundation and its tax-paying subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation. In addition to the Firefox browser, Mozilla also produces Thunderbird, Firefox Mobile, the Firefox OS mobile operating system, the bug tracking system Bugzilla and a number of other projects.” (Wikipedia)




(1) Vulnerability description:
Mozilla website has a computer cyber security problem. Hacker can attack it by XSS bugs. Here is the description of XSS: “Hackers are constantly experimenting with a wide repertoire of hacking techniques to compromise websites and web applications and make off with a treasure trove of sensitive data including credit card numbers, social security numbers and even medical records. Cross-site Scripting (also known as XSS or CSS) is generally believed to be one of the most common application layer hacking techniques Cross-site Scripting allows an attacker to embed malicious JavaScript, VBScript, ActiveX, HTML, or Flash into a vulnerable dynamic page to fool the user, executing the script on his machine in order to gather data. The use of XSS might compromise private information, manipulate or steal cookies, create requests that can be mistaken for those of a valid user, or execute malicious code on the end-user systems. The data is usually formatted as a hyperlink containing malicious content and which is distributed over any possible means on the internet.” (Acunetix)



All pages under the following two URLs are vulnerable.


This means all URLs under the above two domains can be used for XSS attacks targeting Mozilla’s users.


Since there are large number of pages under them. Meanwhile, the contents of the two domains vary. This makes the vulnerability very dangerous. Attackers can use different URLs to design XSS attacks to Mozilla’s variety class of users.









POC Codes:<body onload=prompt(“justqdjing”)><body onload=prompt(“justqdjing”)><body onload=prompt(“justqdjing”)>


(2) Vulnerability Analysis:
Take the following link as an example,<attacktest&gt;


In the page reflected, it contains the following codes.

<a href=”/mozilla-central/source/chrome/%253Cattacktest%253E”>




If insert “<body onload=prompt(“justqdjing”)>” into the URL, the code can be executed.


The vulnerability can be attacked without user login. Tests were performed on Firefox (26.0) in Ubuntu (12.04) and IE (9.0.15) in Windows 7.




(3) Vulnerability Disclosure:
The vulnerability have been reported to Mozilla are dealing with this issue.



Discovered and Reported by:
Wang Jing, Division of Mathematical Sciences (MAS), School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (SPMS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. (@justqdjing)





More Details: