A3:2021 | Cross Site Scripting Mitigation (3) | Cycubix Docs

What is encoding?

Not trusting user input means validating data for type, length, format, and range whenever it passes through a trust boundary, say from a web form to an application script, then encode it before redisplay in a dynamic page.

In practice, this means that you need to review every point on your site where user-supplied data is handled and processed and ensure that, before being passed back to the user, any values accepted from the client side are checked, filtered, and encoded.

Client-side validation cannot be relied upon, but user input can be forced down to a minimal alphanumeric set with server-side processing before being used by a web application in any way.


Escaping means that you convert (or mark) key characters of the data to prevent it from being interpreted in a dangerous context. In the case of HTML output, you need to convert the < and > characters (among others) to prevent any malicious code from rendering. Escaping these characters involves turning them into their entity equivalents &lt; and &gt;, which will not be interpreted as HTML tags by a browser.

Special characters

You need to encode special characters like "<" and ">" before they are redisplayed if they are received from user input. For example, encoding "<" and ">" ensures a browser will display <script> but not execute it. In conjunction with encoding, your web pages must always define their character set so the browser will not interpret special character encodings from other character sets.

Cross-site scripting attacks usually occur when you manage to sneak a script (usually javascript) onto someone else’s website, where it can run maliciously.

Relevant XML/HTML special characters

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