Towards Elimination of Cross-Site Scripting on Mobile Versions of Web Applications

Ashar Javed, Jörg Schwenk

In Pro­cee­dings of The 14th International Workshop on Information Security Applications (WISA2013), August 19-21 (2013), Jeju Island, Korea


In this paper, we address the overlooked problem of Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) on mobile versions of web applications. We have surveyed 100 popular mobile versions of web applications and detected XSS vulnerabilities in 81 of them. The inspected sites present a simplified version of the desktop web application for mobile devices; the survey includes sites by Nokia, Intel, MailChimp, Dictionary, Ebay, Pinterest, Statcounter and Slashdot. Our investigations indicate that a significantly larger percentage (81% vs. 53%) of mobile web applications are vulnerable to XSS, although their functionality is drastically reduced in comparison to the corresponding desktop web application.

To mitigate XSS attacks for mobile devices, this paper presents a light-weight, black-list and regular expressions based XSS filter for the detection of XSS on mobile versions of web applications, which can be deployed on client or server side. We have tested our implementation against five different publicly available XSS attack vector lists; none of these vectors were able to bypass our filter. We have also evaluated our filter in the client-side scenario by adding support in 2 open source mobile applications (WordPress and Drupal); our experimental results show reasonably low overhead incurred due to the small size of the filter and computationally fast regular expressions. We have contributed an implementation of our XSS detection rules to the ModSecurity firewall engine, and the filter is now part of OWASP ModSecurity Core Rule Set (CRS).


Tags: Filter, mobile, XSS