Online Banking Industry Very Vulnerable to Cross-Site Scripting Frauds

Phishing Attacks reported by members of the Netcraft Toolbar community show that many large banks are neglecting to take sufficient care with the development and testing of their online banking facilities.

Well known banks have created an infestation of application bugs and vulnerabilities across the Internet, allowing fraudsters to insert their data collection forms into bona fide banking sites, creating convincing frauds that are undetectable to most customers. Indeed, a personal finance journalist writing for The Motley Fool was brave enough to publicly admit to having fallen for a fraud running on Suntrust's site and having her current account cleaned out. It's a reasonable premise that if a Motley Fool journalist can fall for a fraud, anyone can.

One fraud recently blocked by the Netcraft Toolbar was at Citizens Bank. Fraudsters composed and mass mailed a phishing mail which exploited a program on, loading Javascript from the attackers' server hosted at Telecom Italia. Customers were presented with a page bearing the URL in the address bar, while the browser window displays a form from the Telecom Italia server asking for user login information.

The script being exploited allows visitors to search for Citizens Bank branch offices in their town. Along with search scripts, branch locator pages are frequently carelessly coded and are targets for fraudsters who are actively analyzing financial web sites for weaknesses.

In this case, a coding oversight in the Citizens Bank application allows an attacker to inject JavaScript into the URL, which is executed by customers' web browsers. The additional commands following "" in the URL are hex-coded to evade detection, but call a JavaScript file (city.js) from a server at the IP address

The successful script injection attack on Citizens Bank follows similar attacks against Visa, Mastercard, and SunTrust in December.

The Netcraft Toolbar traps and blocks cross-site scripting attacks natively (see screenshot here ) whilst displaying the longevity, hosting location and country for each site you visit.

Netcraft additionally provides a range of services for banks and other financial institutions to eliminate these kinds of errors from their systems, including comprehensive application testing and training for developers and designers of web based applications.