Cross-site Scripting (XSS)

Affecting handlebars package, versions <4.0.0

Do your applications use this vulnerable package? Test your applications

Overview

handlebars provides the power necessary to let you build semantic templates.

When using attributes without quotes in a handlebars template, an attacker can manipulate the input to introduce additional attributes, potentially executing code. This may lead to a Cross-site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability, assuming an attacker can influence the value entered into the template. If the handlebars template is used to render user-generated content, this vulnerability may escalate to a persistent XSS vulnerability.

Details

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks occur when an attacker tricks a user’s browser to execute malicious JavaScript code in the context of a victim’s domain. Such scripts can steal the user’s session cookies for the domain, scrape or modify its content, and perform or modify actions on the user’s behalf, actions typically blocked by the browser’s Same Origin Policy.

These attacks are possible by escaping the context of the web application and injecting malicious scripts in an otherwise trusted website. These scripts can introduce additional attributes (say, a "new" option in a dropdown list or a new link to a malicious site) and can potentially execute code on the clients side, unbeknown to the victim. This occurs when characters like < > " ' are not escaped properly.

There are a few types of XSS:

  • Persistent XSS is an attack in which the malicious code persists into the web app’s database.
  • Reflected XSS is an which the website echoes back a portion of the request. The attacker needs to trick the user into clicking a malicious link (for instance through a phishing email or malicious JS on another page), which triggers the XSS attack.
  • DOM-based XSS is an that occurs purely in the browser when client-side JavaScript echoes back a portion of the URL onto the page. DOM-Based XSS is notoriously hard to detect, as the server never gets a chance to see the attack taking place.

Example:

Assume handlebars was used to display user comments and avatar, using the following template: <img src={{avatarUrl}}><pre>{{comment}}</pre>

If an attacker spoofed their avatar URL and provided the following value: http://evil.org/avatar.png onload=alert(document.cookie)

The resulting HTML would be the following, triggering the script once the image loads: <img src=http://evil.org/avatar.png onload=alert(document.cookie)><pre>Gotcha!</pre>

References

Snyk patch available for versions:

CVSS Score

5.3
medium severity
  • Attack Vector
    Network
  • Attack Complexity
    Low
  • Privileges Required
    None
  • User Interaction
    None
  • Scope
    Unchanged
  • Confidentiality
    None
  • Integrity
    Low
  • Availability
    None
CVSS:3.0/AV:N/AC:L/PR:N/UI:N/S:U/C:N/I:L/A:N
Credit
Matias P. Brutti
CVE
CVE-2015-8861
CWE
CWE-79
Snyk ID
npm:handlebars:20151207
Disclosed
07 Dec, 2015
Published
14 Dec, 2015