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Home > CWE List > CWE- Individual Dictionary Definition (4.14)  

CWE-1022: Use of Web Link to Untrusted Target with window.opener Access

Weakness ID: 1022
Vulnerability Mapping: ALLOWEDThis CWE ID may be used to map to real-world vulnerabilities
Abstraction: VariantVariant - a weakness that is linked to a certain type of product, typically involving a specific language or technology. More specific than a Base weakness. Variant level weaknesses typically describe issues in terms of 3 to 5 of the following dimensions: behavior, property, technology, language, and resource.
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+ Description
The web application produces links to untrusted external sites outside of its sphere of control, but it does not properly prevent the external site from modifying security-critical properties of the window.opener object, such as the location property.
+ Extended Description
When a user clicks a link to an external site ("target"), the target="_blank" attribute causes the target site's contents to be opened in a new window or tab, which runs in the same process as the original page. The window.opener object records information about the original page that offered the link. If an attacker can run script on the target page, then they could read or modify certain properties of the window.opener object, including the location property - even if the original and target site are not the same origin. An attacker can modify the location property to automatically redirect the user to a malicious site, e.g. as part of a phishing attack. Since this redirect happens in the original window/tab - which is not necessarily visible, since the browser is focusing the display on the new target page - the user might not notice any suspicious redirection.
+ Alternate Terms
+ Relationships
Section HelpThis table shows the weaknesses and high level categories that are related to this weakness. These relationships are defined as ChildOf, ParentOf, MemberOf and give insight to similar items that may exist at higher and lower levels of abstraction. In addition, relationships such as PeerOf and CanAlsoBe are defined to show similar weaknesses that the user may want to explore.
+ Relevant to the view "Research Concepts" (CWE-1000)
ChildOfBaseBase - a weakness that is still mostly independent of a resource or technology, but with sufficient details to provide specific methods for detection and prevention. Base level weaknesses typically describe issues in terms of 2 or 3 of the following dimensions: behavior, property, technology, language, and resource.266Incorrect Privilege Assignment
+ Modes Of Introduction
Section HelpThe different Modes of Introduction provide information about how and when this weakness may be introduced. The Phase identifies a point in the life cycle at which introduction may occur, while the Note provides a typical scenario related to introduction during the given phase.
Architecture and DesignThis weakness is introduced during the design of an application when the architect does not specify that a linked external document should not be able to alter the location of the calling page.
ImplementationThis weakness is introduced during the coding of an application when the developer does not include the noopener and/or noreferrer value for the rel attribute.
+ Applicable Platforms
Section HelpThis listing shows possible areas for which the given weakness could appear. These may be for specific named Languages, Operating Systems, Architectures, Paradigms, Technologies, or a class of such platforms. The platform is listed along with how frequently the given weakness appears for that instance.


JavaScript (Often Prevalent)


Class: Web Based (Often Prevalent)

+ Common Consequences
Section HelpThis table specifies different individual consequences associated with the weakness. The Scope identifies the application security area that is violated, while the Impact describes the negative technical impact that arises if an adversary succeeds in exploiting this weakness. The Likelihood provides information about how likely the specific consequence is expected to be seen relative to the other consequences in the list. For example, there may be high likelihood that a weakness will be exploited to achieve a certain impact, but a low likelihood that it will be exploited to achieve a different impact.

Technical Impact: Alter Execution Logic

The user may be redirected to an untrusted page that contains undesired content or malicious script code.
+ Likelihood Of Exploit
+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

In this example, the application opens a link in a named window/tab without taking precautions to prevent the called page from tampering with the calling page's location in the browser.

There are two ways that this weakness is commonly seen. The first is when the application generates an <a> tag is with target="_blank" to point to a target site:

(bad code)
Example Language: HTML 
<a href="" target="_blank">

If the attacker offers a useful page on this link (or compromises a trusted, popular site), then a user may click on this link. However, the attacker could use scripting code to modify the window.opener's location property to redirect the application to a malicious, attacker-controlled page - such as one that mimics the look and feel of the original application and convinces the user to re-enter authentication credentials, i.e. phishing:

(attack code)
Example Language: JavaScript 
window.opener.location = '';

To mitigate this type of weakness, some browsers support the "rel" attribute with a value of "noopener", which sets the window.opener object equal to null. Another option is to use the "rel" attribute with a value of "noreferrer", which in essence does the same thing.

(good code)
Example Language: HTML 
<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">

A second way that this weakness is commonly seen is when opening a new site directly within JavaScript. In this case, a new site is opened using the function.

(bad code)
Example Language: JavaScript 
var newWindow ="", "_blank");

To mitigate this, set the window.opener object to null.

(good code)
Example Language: JavaScript 
var newWindow ="", "_blank");
newWindow.opener = null;
+ Observed Examples
Library software does not use rel: "noopener noreferrer" setting, allowing tabnabbing attacks to redirect to a malicious page
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Architecture and Design

Specify in the design that any linked external document must not be granted access to the location object of the calling page.

Phase: Implementation

When creating a link to an external document using the <a> tag with a defined target, for example "_blank" or a named frame, provide the rel attribute with a value "noopener noreferrer".

If opening the external document in a new window via javascript, then reset the opener by setting it equal to null.

Phase: Implementation

Do not use "_blank" targets. However, this can affect the usability of the application.

+ Detection Methods

Automated Static Analysis

Automated static analysis, commonly referred to as Static Application Security Testing (SAST), can find some instances of this weakness by analyzing source code (or binary/compiled code) without having to execute it. Typically, this is done by building a model of data flow and control flow, then searching for potentially-vulnerable patterns that connect "sources" (origins of input) with "sinks" (destinations where the data interacts with external components, a lower layer such as the OS, etc.)

Effectiveness: High

+ Memberships
Section HelpThis MemberOf Relationships table shows additional CWE Categories and Views that reference this weakness as a member. This information is often useful in understanding where a weakness fits within the context of external information sources.
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1396Comprehensive Categorization: Access Control
+ Vulnerability Mapping Notes


(this CWE ID could be used to map to real-world vulnerabilities)

Reason: Acceptable-Use


This CWE entry is at the Variant level of abstraction, which is a preferred level of abstraction for mapping to the root causes of vulnerabilities.


Carefully read both the name and description to ensure that this mapping is an appropriate fit. Do not try to 'force' a mapping to a lower-level Base/Variant simply to comply with this preferred level of abstraction.
+ References
[REF-39] Alex Yumashev. "Target="_blank" - the most underestimated vulnerability ever". 2016-05-04. <>.
[REF-40] Ben Halpern. "The target="_blank" vulnerability by example". 2016-09-11. <>.
[REF-958] Mathias Bynens. "About rel=noopener". 2016-03-15. <>.
+ Content History
+ Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
(CWE 2.12, 2017-11-08)
David DeatherageSilicon Valley Bank
+ Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2018-03-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Alternate_Terms, Demonstrative_Examples, Description, Modes_of_Introduction, Name, Potential_Mitigations, References
2020-02-24CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Relationships
2021-07-20CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Potential_Mitigations
2023-04-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Detection_Factors, Relationships
2023-06-29CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Mapping_Notes
2023-10-26CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Observed_Examples
+ Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2018-03-27Improper Restriction of Cross-Origin Permission to window.opener.location
Page Last Updated: February 29, 2024