What Is Clickjacking? Definition, Methods, and Prevention Best Practices for 2022


Clickjacking is a cybercrime technique where the attacker deceives the user into believing a fake hyperlink is real. Once the user clicks on it, they are routed to a different website, a fraudulent app is downloaded, confidential data is given exposed, or a similar fraudulent activity occurs. This article explains how clickjacking works, its various modes of action, and the best practices to counter this cyberattack. 

What Is Clickjacking?

Clickjacking is defined as a cybercrime technique where an attacker deceives the user into believing a fake hyperlink is authentic. Once the user clicks on it, they are routed to a different website, a fraudulent app is downloaded, confidential data is exposed, or a similar fraudulent activity occurs.

How Clickjacking Works

Clickjacking is an online scam in which a victim is tricked into clicking something different from what they meant without their consent. A UI redress assault is another term for clickjacking (user interface redress assault). The traditional clickjacking approach ” redresses ” the victim’s visual user interface by inserting a malicious site or malicious website extension into an unseen iframe on top of the previous webpage.

The victim is unaware that a hidden iframe is overlaying the page they are seeing. The hidden page has clickable components corresponding to the exposed page’s actual buttons. For instance, if the user clicks on a button with “Download PDF” written on it, they inadvertently activate a hidden iframe component. The component then triggers a malicious activity, such as installing a harmful script, automatically executed by the browser to infect the system. 

How does clickjacking work?

A frame inside a frame is known as an iframe. iFrames allow you to incorporate material from other websites into your own. When you go to a website and see an integrated YouTube video, the video is shown in an iframe. Clickjacking assaults, like many other online attacks, often involve some social manipulation to lure victims to vulnerable/malicious sites. This could be in an email, a text, or a Facebook post.

It’s not simply about mouse clicks. An assailant could trick an unknowing user into believing they’re putting their credentials into their internet banking site while submitting it to a site monitored by the hacker, using a mix of stylesheets, text fields, and iframes. The term clickjacking was created by the dual security researchers Jeremiah and Grossman following the Adobe Flash player vulnerability to clickjacking in 2008. Since there are many distinct types of clickjacking assaults, the term “user interface redress attack” has gained traction in recent years. It’s a broad phrase that covers a wide range of possibilities.

The most common form of clickjacking is to present the user with a mix of two overlapping websites in the same browser tab, with an incentive to click in specified locations. The attacker starts by loading the vulnerable server into an iframe, switching it to full disclosure, and positioning it in front of a deceptive web page to elicit clicks in critical spots. 

See More: What Is a Spear Phishing Attack? Definition, Process, and Prevention Best Practices

Clickjacking examples

Hidden links can be found in media and used to do a specific activity, including liking a Page on Facebook or purchasing a product on Amazon. For the assault to succeed, the victim may have to meet particular conditions, such as remaining signed into social network accounts. If a person is duped into installing something onto their device, they will be dealing with a hacked machine. In the best-case situation, an anti-virus check will remove the infection. In the worst-case scenario, they would have to reset their device and reinstall the operating system on their endpoint device.

Consider a browser-based activity that displays in a pop-up window and provides winners with awards or engaging material. The game might be presented as the background page, with the desired online application, such as a finance or e-commerce site, placed in a transparent frame above it. The hacker develops the game website such that clickable elements are located in the exact location as desired controls. When users attempt to click in-game objects, they accidentally activate hidden buttons on a vulnerable web page, which may have severe consequences. 

Because of the site, the user may inadvertently offer five-star ratings, enable access to Facebook applications, log in using single sign-on (SSO) credentials, or use one-click ordering to send expensive products to the attacker. The attack may also trick the victim into completing text fields in an online form or CAPTCHAs if it was combined with drag-and-drop techniques. In this hypothetical situation, the user pulls stuff from a hidden screen and drops it in an input field due to well-planned encounters with the game. The user did not do this on purpose.

When a JavaScript pop-up asks for permission to view this data, clickjacking can switch system functionality on and off, like activating your camera and microphone. It might access your computer’s location information or other information that hackers could use to enable future crimes.

See More: Top 10 Single Sign-On (SSO) Software Platforms in 2021

Top Methods Used for Clickjacking

Hackers may use several methods to carry out a clickjacking attack. This includes:

Methods Used for Clickjacking

1. Cursorjacking

Cursorjacking is a technique for manipulating the cursor on your computer screen. It shifts from where you think it is to a different location. This method is most commonly used to attack Adobe Flash and Firefox flaws. These issues, fortunately, have been resolved. Cursorjacking misleads visitors by displaying the pointer with an offset on a modified cursor picture. Compared to the actual cursor location, the projected cursor is displaced to the right. 

For example, when the user moves their mouse, the event triggers the listener, which causes the false mouse pointer (the visible one) to move. When you select the YES button, you will be taken to the Tweet page. Hackers initially used this method to get around NoScript’s ClearClick Security.

2. Browserless clickjacking

Browserless clickjacking is a method for replicating traditional clickjacking in programs that do not operate in an internet browser. Because of how pop-up alerts work, browserless clickjacking is common on Android smartphones. Between the time the notice is issued and the time it appears on the screen, there is a short delay with pop-up alerts. The attackers take advantage of the brief delay to build a dummy icon that you can touch beneath the real notification.

3. Password manager attack

Particular security features autofill credentials unsafely for the HTTP edition of HTTPS-saved certificates. These password managers also fill in the information in iFrames, known as a password manager assault. When password sync was used on several machines, many password managers did not defend against iFrame and redirection-based threats, exposing other passwords. 

Traditional browsers, unlike password managers, are secure and do not autofill information. If the protocol deployed on the existing login page varied from the protocol applied when users stored passwords, browsers would not share autofill information. In iFrames, neither browsers nor data autofill.

4. CookieJacking

CookieJacking is a type of clickjacking wherein the user’s web address bar cookies are taken. This is done by duping the user into executing a seemingly harmless operation on the malicious site (typically dragging an item). When users accept the activity, they unwittingly select and transmit the cookie data to the hacker. After that, the attacker can employ a CSRF attack to impersonate the victim on the website. In this technique, a hacker steals the cookies from your browser. Typically, victims are asked to move an innocuous item, but the attacker copies the full content of their cookies and gives it to them.

See More: What Is Cyber Threat Intelligence? Definition, Objectives, Challenges, and Best Practices

5. Mousejack

Mousejack is a set of flaws that may impact most non-Bluetooth ergonomic keyboards and mice. A broadcast transceiver, usually a tiny USB dongle, is used to ‘link’ these devices to a host device. Because the interface is wireless and cursor and keystrokes are transmitted over the sky, it is feasible to attack a victim’s computer by sending specially-crafted radio waves with a device that costs little than $15.

An attacker can target devices from a distance of around 100 meters. Without visually being next to a targeted device, the attacker can take command of it and write arbitrary text or execute preset commands. As a result, it is feasible to carry out hostile acts quickly while remaining undetected. The mousejack attack involves sending decrypted keystrokes to a target machine. 

Most mouse motions are sent unsecured, but keystrokes are frequently encrypted (to avoid eavesdropping that is being entered). The mousejack flaw, on the other hand, exploits affected recipient dongles and their accompanying software, enabling an attacker’s decrypted keystrokes to be forwarded on to the windows OS as if the user had written them properly.

6. Filejacking

Filejacking is a method in which attackers take advantage of the web browser’s capacity to traverse through a machine and access its files to steal personal information and compromise data security. This is accomplished by persuading the user to create an operational file server using the browser’s folder choice interface. Assailants use this technique to access their targets’ computers and steal files and private information.

7. Nested clickjacking

For nested clickjacking to work, a malicious web window must be inserted between two frames of the original, benign web page. These frames are referred to as the enclosed page and the upper window page. A flaw in the X-Frame-Options HTTP header allows nested clickjacking to occur. When the X-Frame-Options signal is set to SAMEORIGIN, the browser only examines the two innocent layers. It ignores the harmful layer in the middle, allowing attackers to take advantage of the flaw.

8. Likejacking

Likejacking is a type of clickjacking fraud that uses the Facebook “like” feature. Scammers use the “like” button to post an enticing video, picture, or coupon deal. This spreads the scam by posting the discount to all users’ acquaintances’ Facebook pages. The more “likes” the post receives, the more it circulates. Although the impact of these frauds is unknown, some online security experts suspect scammers are attempting to log in to a Facebook profile or private information of victims.

See More: Top 11 Malware Scanners and Removers in 2022

Clickjacking Prevention Best Practices for 2022

On phony websites mimicking reputable ones, there could be numerous clickjacking assaults. Because the hacker may copy the website and modify it with connections to other websites, ensure that the websites are not included inside the FRAME> or IFRAME> components. As attackers use fraudulent iFrames to frame the victim’s webpage, most clickjacking assault mitigation approaches focus on limiting iFraming. The following are some practical strategies to protect yourself from clickjacking attacks:

These strategies are categorized into two groups, namely, server-side and client-side.

Server-side clickjacking prevention

1. Choose the correct content-security-policy command

Most browsers support the X-Frame-Options element. However, some browsers may not support it because it has never been defined. The use of unique content security policy (CSP) guidelines is an alternative standard technique for preventing clickjacking assaults. It is among the most effective cyber security solution against integrating websites with the descendent of frames, and it is used to protect against clickjacking cyber attacks. The content-security coverage shields websites against cross-site scripting (XSS), a very common type of cyberattack, which prevents iframes from being inserted on the page.

Make sure that your web server is configured to support the security policy so that you may use this capability. When CSP is installed on the webpage, the necessary CSP chassis can be configured to prevent response headers from being embedded. Frame-access disables all websites from displaying the website of the ‘None’ command in a given frame. The frame-ancestors element in the CSP HTTP status header can also be used to identify whether the site can be rendered in a frame or an iframe. Designers can avoid clickjacking attempts by ensuring that valid material is not integrated into other websites.

2. Specify to not allow x-frame-options directive

The X-Frame-Options header specifies whether or not a browser may integrate web pages inside frames. Since the X-Frame-Options response header is set to become obsolete over time and be replaced by pre-frame directives, this should not be employed as the primary defensive mechanism. You should set the instruction to “Reject” to transmit your web content’s correct X-Frame-Options HTTP request.

For example, efforts to load the webpage in one session will be prevented after assigning the x-frame-options to the backend rejection instruction. This is similar to the CSP’s framework-primary self-command, which restricts online content generation to sites that share similar sources.

See More: What Is Content Filtering? Definition, Types, and Best Practices

Client-side clickjacking prevention

Client-side clickjacking protection is not as effective compared to server-side clickjacking mitigation. These approaches should only be used as a last resort.

3. Leverage the frame busting script

The frame-busting script ensures that the webpage does not operate within the frame. Using the JavaScript add-on may alter the browser’s behavior when JavaScript is placed into a site frame. A straightforward frame-busting method compels the browser to reload the phony offset page in the higher session. The webpage loads on over the rogue iframe layer due to this. The iframe holding a website will not be launched over the hidden page unless the allow-top-navigation property is set. The hacker can use this feature to enable the browser to run scripts to complete the form. You should not counter clickjacking attacks with frame-breaking scripts.

4. Install anti-clickjacking browser extensions

Since they deactivate all JavaScript on loaded pages, anti-clickjacking browser add-ons do not deliver the optimal user experience. Most popular platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, use JavaScript, and these plugins prevent them from working. You must explicitly set an allowlist to deploy the JavaScript application on trusted sources. A collection of JavaScript-blocking add-ons for various browsers is shown below:

  • Scriptsafe for chrome
  • NoScript for Mozilla Firefox
  • JS Blocker for Safari browser

5. Adopt frame-breaking or “framebusting”

Frame-breaking is a client-side prevention approach in which code is used to stop a website from being loaded inside an iframe. To do so, programmers add a frame-breaking script to their code, consisting of a predicate and a counteraction that removes the overlay. Because the adjustment is made to HTML code rather than HTTP headers, frame busting can safeguard websites loaded in all major and older browsers.

6. Use the same site origin cookie

If your web service is susceptible to clickjacking owing to session cookies, you can use the same-site attribute of cookies to secure it. The response in this scenario is to limit the session from being legitimate when the webpage is inside an iframe rather than breaking the iframe functionality. Note that this strategy won’t help you if your website actions aren’t dependent on a live session.

7. Taking use of XSS filters

Reflective XSS filters were added in Internet Explorer 8 and Google Chrome to defend websites against XSS assaults. According to Nava and Lindsay (of Blackhat), users can use these checks to get around frame-busting coding. To appear for evident efforts at cross-site programming, the IE8 XSS filter analyzes query parameters to a collection of pattern matching. The filter can be employed to disable specific scripts using “caused false positives.”

All inline scripts on the website (including frame busting scripts) can be deactivated using the XSS filter. This is achieved by identifying the script tag initiation point in the site’s query parameters. You can disable outside scripts by referencing an external inclusion. This approach is practical for clickjacking because portions of the injected JavaScript are still active (external or inline), and cookies are still accessible.

See More: What Is URL Filtering? Definition, Process, and Best Practices

8. Carry out no-content flushing

While the attack necessitates user participation, hackers can carry out the same assault without the user’s knowledge. By repeatedly sending a navigation query to a site that responds with “204 – No Content,” many browsers (Google Chrome, IE7, IE8, and Firefox) allow an attacker to reject the inbound navigation query in an onBeforeUnload event log. Visiting a No Content page is a NOP, but it clears the query queue, canceling the first navigation attempt. 

9. Invoke the onBeforeUnload event

The user may explicitly cancel any navigation query offered by a framed page. The framing site takes advantage of this by registering an onBeforeUnload manager invoked when the framing site is about to be emptied due to browsing. The handler method retrieves what the user sees due to a prompt. Assume the attacker is attempting to defraud PayPal. He creates an unload manager method that asks, “Do you wish to terminate PayPal?” Whenever this string is shown to the user, it is likely to cause the user to reject the navigation, bypassing PayPal’s effort to escape the frame.

10. Utilize a Window.confirm() protection

A more reliable technique of clickjacking defense is to utilize a frame-breaking or X-Frame-Options script in situations where information must be framed. Nevertheless, the window.confirm () measure notifies the user about any action they are about to take, thereby reducing the risk of clickjacking attacks.

When you call window.confirm(), you will get a pop-up that can’t be framed. When the window.confirm() is fetched from inside an iframe window with a domain different from the real one, a dialog box will appear – notifying the user about the domain from which the window.confirm() function was called.

In this case, the browser displays the dialog box’s source to help prevent clickjacking attempts. It’s worth noting that only the internet explorer doesn’t show the site that the window.confirm() message box came from. To work around this, make sure the information within the chatbox includes context data about the action being taken.

See More: What Is Zero Trust Security? Definition, Model, Framework and Vendors


Clickjacking attacks are prevalent when using the public internet, so users must always stay vigilant. Fortunately, most modern browsers have built-in mechanisms to protect against clickjacking attacks, either by blocking malicious websites (particularly ones without an HTTP certificate) or warning users that they are about to enter a potentially dangerous site. By following proper digital hygiene and avoiding online service providers that offer free or pirated services, one can stay safe against clickjacking. 

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