URLs to articles in New York Times (NYT) published before 2013 have been found to be vulnerable to an XSS (cross-site scripting) attack capable of delivering code to be executed in the context of the web browser.
Based on The New York TImes’ Design, Almost all URLs before 2013 are affected (All pages of articles). In fact, all article pages that contain “PRINT” button, “SINGLE PAGE” button, “Page *” button, “NEXT PAGE” button are affected.
The New York Times changed this mechanism since 2013. It decodes the URLs sent to its server. This makes the mechanism much safer now.
However, all URLs before 2013 are still using the old mechanism. This means almost all article pages before 2013 are still vulnerable to XSS attacks. I guess the reason Nytimes does not filter URLs before is cost. It costs too much (money & human capital) to change the database of all posted articles before.
The Vulnerability was found by a mathematics PhD student Wang Jing from School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences(SPMS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
POC and Blog explanation given by Wang,
Meanwhile, Wang said that “The New York Times has adopted a new mechanism now. This is a better protection mechanism.”
Even if the articles are old, the pages are still relevant
An attack on more recent articles would definitely have had a significant impact, but articles from 2012 or even older are far from being obsolete. They would still be relevant in the context of an attack.
Cybercriminals can devise various ways to send the link to potential victims and record high success rates, all the more with targeted attacks.
What is XSS?
Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of computer security vulnerability typically found in Web applications. XSS enables attackers to inject client-side script into Web pages viewed by other users. A cross-site scripting vulnerability may be used by attackers to bypass access controls such as the same origin policy. Cross-site scripting carried out on websites accounted for roughly 84% of all security vulnerabilities documented by Symantec as of 2007. (Wikipedia)