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Target:”_blank” – the vulnerability in your browser

Lately I have read about a shocking vulnerability, which resides in every browser due to a design flaw. The vulnerability exposes you to an attack called tabnabbing, which switches a tab in your browser with a malicious webpage, where you could be asked to enter your password again. Often these so-called phishing pages are disguised as regular login pages.

The vulnerability

Okay, back to the vulnerability. Usually, when creating links in an HTML page, it looks like this:

<a href="" target="_blank">This is a link to a bad webpage.</a>

The target="_blank" tells the browser to open the link in a new tab or window. What you probably did not know: The new page can access parts of the original website.

The Window.opener object is responsible for this behaviour. Mozilla states:

When a window is opened from another window (using, it maintains a reference to that first window as window.opener. If the current window has no opener, this method returns NULL.


I created a little test page to demonstrate the vulnerability. Note that nothing bad will happen from clicking the following link, you are safe! So try it out now:

Go to the page.

A nice demonstration can also be found here: About rel=noopener


To fix this problem, add the following tag to your links:
rel='noopener noreferrer'

For example:

<a rel='noopener noreferrer' href="" target="_blank">This is a link to a bad webpage.</a>

Try out the test page with noopener:

Go to the page.

Published inIT-Security

One Comment

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