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What is Clickjacking?

Clickjacking is a malicious technique that involves overlaying invisible or disguised elements on a webpage, causing users to interact with hidden content or functionalities without their knowledge or consent, potentially leading to harmful consequences or unauthorized actions.

Clickjacking Explained

Clickjacking is a malicious technique used by attackers to trick users into clicking on a webpage element that is disguised or hidden. The objective of clickjacking is to deceive users into unknowingly performing actions that they did not intend to do, such as downloading malware, visiting malicious websites, revealing sensitive information, making unauthorized transactions, or purchasing products online. This attack takes advantage of the transparency of web pages and uses invisible or overlapping elements to mislead users into interacting with unintended content.

Types of Clickjacking

  1. Traditional Clickjacking: This type of clickjacking involves overlaying invisible elements or pages on top of legitimate websites, making users unknowingly interact with hidden functionality or content.

  2. Likejacking: Likejacking manipulates website links and social media features, such as a hyperlinked web image or the Facebook "Like" button, to trick users into unintentionally visiting digital ads or endorsing a page they did not intend to.

  3. Cursorjacking: Cursorjacking is a technique that manipulates the position of the cursor displayed on a webpage, misleading users about the actual target of their clicks.

How does Clickjacking Work?

Clickjacking works by employing techniques that involve the use of iframes or invisible elements layered on top of visible content. The process typically includes the following steps:

  1. Step 1: The attacker creates a webpage with enticing or deceptive content to attract users.

  2. Step 2: In the background, the attacker identifies if the user is logged into a targeted website, such as a banking site.

  3. Step 3: An invisible iframe is placed on top of the attacker's webpage, precisely aligning it with visible buttons or links.

  4. Step 4: When the user interacts with the visible elements, they are unknowingly interacting with the hidden elements within the iframe, triggering unintended actions.

  5. Step 5: These actions can range from transferring funds, providing sensitive information, or executing malicious operations without the user's knowledge.

By disguising the malicious activity as legitimate user actions, clickjacking can bypass security measures and make it difficult to trace the attacker's identity.

Clickjacking vs. Linkjacking

Clickjacking and linkjacking are distinct techniques with different objectives:

  • Clickjacking: Clickjacking focuses on deceiving users into interacting with hidden or disguised elements on a webpage, leading to unintended actions or unauthorized access to sensitive information.

  • Linkjacking: Linkjacking involves redirecting a website's links to another destination without the original content creator's permission. It isn't always used for nefarious, but typically it aims to drive traffic to an alternate website, often for financial gain.

    • Negative uses: From a negative standpoint, some linkjackers provide a website with no original content and by driving up traffic to the alternate content, they make money on any click through ads. When used in this fashion, the linkjacker doesn't provide backlinks.
    • Positive uses: Some larger websites, such as Digg or Reddit, may linkjack a blog or an interesting article. In these instances, the notable website does provide backlinks and appropriate references to the original content, thereby gifting a large spike in traffic to the originating website.

While both techniques involve manipulating user interactions, clickjacking revolves around user interface deception, while linkjacking centers on diverting web traffic.

How to Detect and Prevent Clickjacking

Detecting and preventing clickjacking attacks can be challenging, but there are mitigation techniques that can help safeguard against them:

  1. Client-side Methods: Techniques like Frame Busting can be implemented on the client-side to prevent framing of webpages. However, these methods can be bypassed easily and are not considered best practices.

  2. Server-side Methods: Implementing server-side defenses is recommended by security experts to effectively mitigate clickjacking attacks. One widely used server-side defense is the X-Frame-Options response header.

    • DENY: Prevents any domain from displaying the page within a frame.
    • SAMEORIGIN: Allows the page to be displayed in a frame on another page but only within the same domain.
    • ALLOW-FROM URI: Allows the page to be displayed in a frame, but only within a specific URI.

    X-Frame-Options provides control over which domains or pages can frame a website, reducing the risk of clickjacking.

Learn more about IRONSCALES enterprise email security platform here.

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