Improper Neutralization of Script-Related HTML Tags in a Web Page (Basic XSS)

The product receives input from an upstream component, but it does not neutralize or incorrectly neutralizes special characters such as "<", ">", and "&" that could be interpreted as web-scripting elements when they are sent to a downstream component that processes web pages.


This may allow such characters to be treated as control characters, which are executed client-side in the context of the user's session. Although this can be classified as an injection problem, the more pertinent issue is the improper conversion of such special characters to respective context-appropriate entities before displaying them to the user.


The following examples help to illustrate the nature of this weakness and describe methods or techniques which can be used to mitigate the risk.

Note that the examples here are by no means exhaustive and any given weakness may have many subtle varieties, each of which may require different detection methods or runtime controls.

Example One

In the following example, a guestbook comment isn't properly encoded, filtered, or otherwise neutralized for script-related tags before being displayed in a client browser.

<% for (Iterator i = guestbook.iterator(); i.hasNext(); ) {
  Entry e = (Entry); %>
  <p>Entry #<%= e.getId() %></p>
  <p><%= e.getText() %></p>
  } %>

See Also

Comprehensive Categorization: Injection

Weaknesses in this category are related to injection.

OWASP Top Ten 2021 Category A03:2021 - Injection

Weaknesses in this category are related to the A03 category "Injection" in the OWASP Top Ten 2021.

SFP Secondary Cluster: Tainted Input to Command

This category identifies Software Fault Patterns (SFPs) within the Tainted Input to Command cluster (SFP24).

Comprehensive CWE Dictionary

This view (slice) covers all the elements in CWE.

Weaknesses Introduced During Implementation

This view (slice) lists weaknesses that can be introduced during implementation.

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