X-Frame-Options Test - How to Check an XFO Header

X-Frame-Options Test - How to Check an XFO Header
Imagine you're an artist. Would you be happy to find your artwork showcased in someone else's gallery without your consent, where no one can place you as the legitimate painter?

We don't think so, and that's where X-Frame-Options come into action as your website's bodyguard.

So, it’s essential to discover the role of X-Frame-Options header test in cybersecurity and understand its benefits in preventing clickjacking, and learn how to effectively utilize it.

What is X-Frame-Options Header (XFO)?

Simply put, X-Frame-Options is a response header used in HTTP that allows you as a website owner to decide whether or not you want to allow your content to be displayed inside a <frame>, <iframe> or even an <object> of another website.

Intuitively, this becomes extremely handy when you do not want someone else to wrap your website within their own. And in the SEO world, where the rankings can be a make-or-break game-changer, preventing display of your content on other sites can be quite necessary.

What are the Directives of X-Frame-Options?

In the compelling world of cybersecurity, your defense strategy is as effective as your understanding of what you're safeguarding against. Your comprehension and application of the X-Frame-Options can provide that additional layer of security that seals the deal.

X-Frame-Options has three directives:

  • DENY: It restricts all domains from framing your content.
  • SAMEORIGIN: It only allows your website to frame the content.
  • ALLOW-FROM <uri>: It permits the specified uri to frame your content.

First, let's start with the DENY directive. When we apply X-Frame-Options: DENY, it refuses any attempt to frame your site, be it from your domain or external ones. This is your virtual 'Do Not Disturb' sign, alerting all sites to steer clear.

As for X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN, it is essentially you saying, "Only I can frame my content". This means your domain is permitted to frame your site, but others aren't granted this access. This is akin to having a closed-door meeting, where only your team is allowed.

Lastly, X-Frame-Options: ALLOW-FROM <uri> allows only the specified <uri> to frame your content, akin to extending an invite to a particular guest.

The key to deriving the most security from X-Frame-Options is to understand your website's specific needs and use the appropriate directive. 

For some, SAMEORIGIN might do the trick, while others might need the restricted access ALLOW-FROM offers. One size doesn't fit all when it comes to website defense strategies.

Why is X-Frame-Options Necessary?

cybersecurity illustration

The answer lies in your individual business objectives, what you want to protect, and what risks you're willing to tolerate. 

While implementing X-Frame-Options isn't necessarily mandatory, it's a substantial tool in your security toolkit that can save you from potential cybersecurity headaches in the long term. 

Primarily, X-Frame-Options were introduced to provide a line of defense against clickjacking attacks. Clickjacking is a malicious technique where attackers trick users into clicking on something different from what users perceive they are clicking, leading to unsuspected consequences. 

X-Frame-Options has been specifically intended to act as a shield against such malevolent attacks. It's like having an invisible security guard on duty 24/7, making sure only the rightful visitors gain access to your content.

Other than that, embedding your content in other sites without your knowledge could lead to data sniffing or data theft. By controlling who can embed your content, you essentially reduce the chances of such infringement.

Furthermore, X-Frame-Options can grant you control over branding and SEO. If some third-party website embeds your content and adds their own advertisement or branding into it, it could lead to confusion among your users and also can hurt your brand image. 

Also, if your webpage is embedded elsewhere, the SEO ranking you could have received by the user visiting your page is lost. 

🔎You may want to read: How to Identify the Cause of Traffic Loss

What are the Limitations of X-Frame-Options?

X-Frame-Options isn't a magic bullet and does come with its limitations.

X-Frame-Options has limited scope. It only protects against clickjacking, which, while a prominent threat, isn't the only type of Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attack. For comprehensive website security, you would need to utilize additional countermeasures.

Older web browsers do not support X-Frame-Options, so you can encounter compatibility issues. Essentially, this means that while X-Frame-Options will protect your site against attacks from modern browsers, older ones can still pose a clickjacking threat.

X-Frame-Options only allows you to permit or deny embedding entirely. Due to limited control, you cannot specify the sites that can embed your content.

Despite these limitations, it's worth noting that the merits of using X-Frame-Options decidedly outweigh the downsides. 

The crucial line of protection offered by X-Frame-Options against potential clickjacking attacks is an invaluable addition, especially when you're looking to secure your website data and maintain your brand's digital integrity.

How to Test X-Frame-Options?

It's always recommended to put your website through rigorous audit to ensure it’s fortified against potential clickjacking attacks. 

The process to test X-Frame-Options involves a couple of quick, easy steps that we've outlined below. 

Method 1. Test X-Frame-Options via SEOmator

You can easily use SEOmator’s HTTP Header & Status Code Checker to quickly check X-Frame-Options response header among other useful information such as the status code, X-Lambda-Id, and Content-Security-Policy.

SEOmator's HTTP header checker tool

If you find that your website is not using X-Frame-Options, it's crucial to discuss with your website development team about implementing it. 

When it comes to implementing, make sure you consider the unique needs and constraints of your website. This way, you can ensure that your website is as secure as it can be while still providing the optimal user experience.

Method 2. Test X-Frame-Options via Google Chrome Developer Tools 

For this step-by-step guide, we’ll be using Google Chrome Developer Tools but don’t worry, you can use any browser’s developer tools. The steps remain relatively the same.

Step 1. Open Your Website

The first step is to navigate to your website by using your browser.

Step 2. Enable Developer Tools

For Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, you can press Ctrl + Shift + I (Windows) or Command + Option + I (Mac). 

Alternatively, you can navigate to the menu, click on "More Tools," followed by "Developer Tools." 

Step 3. Navigate to the Network Tab

After enabling Developer Tools, you should see a new panel at either the bottom or to the right of your screen. Here, you need to navigate to the “Network” tab.

Network tab of Chrome developer tools

4. Reload Your Page

With the “Network” tab open, refresh your webpage. You should start seeing a list of requests made by your webpage to different resources.

5. Select the Request to Your Website

In the “Name” column, look for the request that represents your website (usually the first request) and click on it to view the detailed information.

Http hader selection from Chrome's developer tools

6. Look for X-Frame-Options

In the “Headers” tab, under “Response Headers”, look for “X-Frame-Options”. If it's present, that means your website is using X-Frame-Options.

response headers checking from Chrome's developer tools

You will see three different directives of X-Frame-Options: DENY, SAMEORIGIN or ALLOW-FROM.

X-frame-options checking from the Chrome's developer tools

Using X-Frame-Options for Website Defense Strategies

With cyber attackers becoming increasingly adept at finding innovative ways to exploit security measures, it's imperative to stay one step ahead of them. This means continuously updating your knowledge and consistently urging your users to stay cautious and vigilant.

The SAMEORIGIN directive stands as a powerful shield in thwarting most clickjacking attempts. 

Here's how to put it into action:

📌Update HTTP Response Headers: Update your server so that it adds the X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN to the HTTP Response Header. This might require some technical expertise, so consider engaging your development team.

📌Verify Implementation: To ensure your implementation was successful, conduct the X-Frame-Options test (as explained in previous sections). If X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN appears under “Response Headers”, kudos! You've successfully implemented SAMEORIGIN.

📌Communicate and Educate Your Users: Making your users aware of potential threats and educating them on safe navigation practices can add an extra layer of protection. It could be as simple as encouraging them to keep their browsers updated or exercise caution while clicking on unverified links.

📌Monitor and Update Regularly: Security isn't a set-it-and-forget-it task. Regular monitoring and updating according to the changing cybersecurity landscape are crucial elements of a robust defense strategy.

Your website is your domain, your playground. With X-Frame-Options, you take control of who gets invited to the game and who doesn't. You're not just throwing punches in the dark; you're making informed, strategic choices. You're more than just a website owner; you're a shrewd website defender!

Web security theme illustration with two woman next to the secure desktop pc

2024 Cybersecurity Trends and Predictions

Having understood how X-Frame-Options test work, let’s have a look at the trends we are likely to see in the realm of cybersecurity in 2024:

🔮Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Domination: As futuristic as they sound, AI and Machine Learning are already playing a pivotal role in cybersecurity today. And their prominence is only set to skyrocket in the future! They can help automate threat detection and response, reducing the strain on human resources and enabling a proactive approach towards cybersecurity.

🔮5G and Quantum Computing Risks: With every innovation comes a new set of risks. The rise of 5G networks and quantum computing posits new vulnerabilities and entry points for cyber-attackers. Anticipating these risks and developing appropriate security systems will be crucial.

🔮Cybersecurity Halo for IoT Devices: The Internet of Things (IoT) has transformed our lives, intertwining our digital and physical worlds like never before. However, this convenience comes with its own share of security risks. We are likely to see a further enhancement of security measures for IoT devices, making your smart home even smarter!

🔮Regulation and Compliance Measures: As the digital world evolves, so does the regulatory landscape. We anticipate stricter cybersecurity laws and data protection regulations that businesses would need to comply with. So, keeping tabs on your compliance checklist and your lawyers close would be wise!

Apart from these, the future of cybersecurity might also see a surge in ‘as-a-service’ solutions, increase in AI-powered cyber-attacks, cyber insurance, and more. 

Exciting times ahead, isn't it?


Implementing X-Frame-Options accords a much-needed security boost, warding off notorious threats like clickjacking, ensuring the safety of your online content. When your customers experience a safe and secure browsing environment, it helps build trust.

Operating a secure online business not only protects your customers but also bolsters your brand reputation. Applying the X-Frame-Options header can be a critical factor in meeting the regulatory checklist for running a compliant online business.

In our highly digitalized world, X-Frame-Options stand as the unsung hero - tirelessly working to keep clickjackers at bay and ensuring the business logic of your website stands robust.

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