Review webpage comments and metadata for information leakage (OTG-INFO-005)

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Brief Summary

Description of the Issue

Black Box testing and example

Check HTML version information for valid version numbers and Data Type Definition (DTD) URLs

  • "strict.dtd" -- default strict DTD
  • "loose.dtd" -- loose DTD
  • "frameset.dtd" -- DTD for frameset documents

Some Meta tags do not provide active attack vectors but instead allow an attacker to profile an application to

<META name="Author" content="Andrew Muller">

Some Meta tags alter HTTP response headers, such as http-equiv which sets an HTTP response header based on the the content attribute of a meta element, such as:

<META http-equiv="Expires" content="Fri, 21 Dec 2012 12:34:56 GMT">

which will result in the HTTP header:

Expires: Fri, 21 Dec 2012 12:34:56 GMT


<META http-equiv="Cache-Control" content="no-cache">

will result in

Cache-Control: no-cache

Test to see if this can be used to conduct injection attacks (e.g. CRLF attack). It can also help determine the level of data leakage via the browser cache.

A common (but not WCAG compliant) Meta tag is the refresh.

<META http-equiv="Refresh" content="15;URL=">

A common use for Meta tag is to specify keywords that a search engine may use to improve the quality of search results.

<META name="keywords" lang="en-us" content="OWASP, security, sunshine, lollipops">

Although most webservers manage search engine indexing via the robots.txt file, it can also be managed by Meta tags. The tag below will advise robots to not index and not follow links on the HTML page containing the tag.

<META name="robots" content="none">

The Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS) and Protocol for Web Description Resources (POWDER) provide infrastructure for associating meta data with Internet content.


Gray Box testing and example

Not applicable.



[1] HTML version 4.01

[2] XHTML (for small devices)

[3] HTML version 5


  • Wget
  • Browser "view source" function
  • Eyeballs
  • Curl