All posts tagged ‘Security’

File Under: Software & Tools

Hackers Are Watching You: Flash Clickjacking Vulnerability Exposes Webcams and Mics

A serious Flash Player vulnerability was exposed Thursday by online security experts. The clickjacking vulnerability gives hackers access to see and hear into your home via your web cam and microphone with only a single victim-initiated click.

The vulnerability affects all browsers with Flash Player installed, approximately 99% of browsers (that means you). Adobe has responded with the following instructions, which turns off all webcam and mic access from the internet:

  1. Access the Global Privacy Settings panel of the Adobe Flash Player Settings Manager at the following URL:
  2. Select the “Always deny” button.
  3. Select ‘Confirm’ in the resulting dialog.
  4. Note that you will no longer be asked to allow or deny camera and / or microphone access after changing this setting. Customers who wish to allow certain sites access to their camera and / or microphone can selectively allow access to certain sites via the Website Privacy Settings panel of the Settings Manager at the following URL:

Jeremiah Greene and Robert Hanson from White Hat Security found the exploit over a month ago and were prepared to present the information to a OWASP conference. Adobe caught wind of the vulnerability and delayed the presentation to give its developers a chance to patch up the bug. Now, Greene and Hanson have gone public with the information.

A video demonstration of the attack can be found on Greene’s blog and below.

Clickjacking Camjack Demonstration from Jeremiah Grossman on Vimeo.

‘Clickjacking’ is a a newly discovered threat which invisibly places poisonous links invisibly under your mouse. When you click anywhere on the infected web page, the invisible link is activated. Unsuspecting users could then unknowingly install viruses or malware thinking they clicked on a legitimate link instead.

The attacks use existing widely used technology, such as JavaScript events, which make the abuse widely effective and difficult to prevent. The only true way to protect yourself from being a victim of clickjacking would be to turn off JavaScript via browser preferences or plug-ins like NoScript.

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File Under: Web Basics

A Look at the ‘Clickjacking’ Web Attack and Why You Should Worry

noscript logoThere’s a nasty new security threat making waves on the web. Actually, clickjacking, as this attack is known, isn’t entirely new, but because no one has yet come up with an effective solution, it remains a serious threat. And clickjacking is the worst sort of security risk — it’s transparent to the unwitting user, simple to implement and difficult to stop.

The basic idea is that an attacker loads the content of an external site into the site you’re visiting, sets the external content to be invisible and then overlays the page you’re looking at. When you click a link you see on the current page, you are in fact clicking on the externally loaded page and about to load pretty much whatever the attacker wants.

To complicate matters, clickjacking is also a really cool, potentially effective user design tool. For an example of a benign case of clickjacking, consider the NoScript website, which uses the technique for positive ends.

NoScript is a Firefox plugin that stops JavaScript from running in your browser. The plugin is available through the Firefox add-ons site or through developer Giorgio Maone’s dedicated site. Now, as Firefox users know, when you try to load an add-on through a third-party site, the browser will block the attempt and show you a warning.

In the case of Maone’s site, it means an extra step is required for users to install the NoScript plugin. So Maone simply loads the Firefox add-on page in an iFrame, sets the content of the iFrame to visible:0 and then positions the frame over his own download button. The result is that while the user thinks they are clicking the download button on the current page, they are in fact clicking the download button from the Firefox add-ons page.

Because the Firefox add-ons page is a trusted source, Firefox doesn’t block the download, and users are able to get the plugin installed in a single click. While you could argue that this is still somewhat sneaky, it does make for a better UI experience on Maone’s site.

However, it isn’t hard to see how this could be used for much more nefarious ends. And it’s worth pointing out that an iFrame isn’t the only means of attack, clickjacking can work by loading Flash files, Silverlight, Java and more. To make matters worse, using JavaScript, an attacker could make the invisible target constantly follow the mouse pointer, intercepting a user’s first click no matter where it happens on the current page.

Developer Mark Pilgrim, who has been blogging over at the WHATWG blog, recently posted about clickjacking and outlines a number of possible solutions, none of which is ideal. One option would be to add a cross-domain permissions setup similar to what Flash uses, but even that model has problems. As Pilgrim writes:

This last approach moves us down a slippery slope towards site security policies for IFRAMEs and embedded content, similar to the Flash security model that allows trusted sites to access cross-domain resources. In practice, Flash crossdomain.xml files have a number of problems, and such an approach would still only cover a fraction of the possible use cases.

In the end, there doesn’t appear to be a an easy, or even complete, solution to the issue. As we typically point out when it comes to injection threats, using Firefox with NoScript is one of the best solutions (though in this case, even that isn’t 100 percent). For those using other browsers, Maone recently posted some suggestions for protecting against clickjacking, but unfortunately the usability consequences are pretty severe.

It will require some changes on the part of browser manufacturers to defeat clickjacking, but so far there’s no consensus on how to solve the problem. We’ll be sure to keep you posted.

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File Under: Software & Tools

Scripting Attacks Plague Even the Web’s Largest Sites

phishing.jpgTwo security researchers have released details on some very scary Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) attacks that affect some of the largest sites on the web. The sites detailed in the report from security experts Ed Felten and Bill Zeller are ING Direct, YouTube, MetaFilter and the New York Times. The most disturbing is the ING Direct attack, which allowed attackers to transfer funds out of your bank account.

It used to be that most online threats could be avoided by the technically savvy — those of us not fooled by phishing e-mails and fake websites. But that isn’t true anymore, CSRF attacks are nearly transparent to the user and can come from sites you’d normally be inclined to trust. To perform a CSRF attack, the attacker places a bit of code in a web page (usually a chat board or forum) that initiates an action at a different website where you’re already authenticated. So, if you have a local cookie stored that automatically logs you into your banking website, for example, the attacker can effectively pose as you and request fund transfers without you ever knowing about it, or even clicking on anything.

The details in the report make it clear that CSRF attacks are no longer something confined to the dark corners of the internet, but could in fact be lurking on nearly any page.

Fortunately, Felten and Zeller reported all the vulnerabilities to site administrators and the holes have been patched. Well, except for the New York Times flaw, which was reported over a year ago and still hasn’t been fixed. Apparently the Gray Lady moves rather slowly when it comes to security.In the case of the Times site, the attack is primarily useful for gather e-mail address; Felten and Zeller write:

An attacker can forge a request to active the “Email This” feature while setting his email address as the recipient. When a user visit’s the attacker’s page, an email will be sent to the attacker’s email address containing the user’s email address. This attack can be used for identification (e.g., finding the email addresses of all users who visit an attacker’s site) or for spam. This attack is particularly dangerous because of the large number of users who have NYTimes’ accounts and because the NYTimes keeps users logged in for over a year.

Perhaps the most interesting note in the post is the takeaway where Felton and Zeller write, “if you’re in charge of a website and haven’t specifically protected against CSRF, chances are you’re vulnerable.”

In other words, unless you’re taking active steps to secure your site against CSRF attacks, your users have no reason to trust you.

If you’re worried about CSRF attacks on your favorite sites, one of the best ways to avoid them is to use the Firefox browser with the No Script add-on, which prevents such scripts from ever loading. Also, always choose the Log Out option when you leave a website. Furthermore, if you’re a site owner who uses persistent cookies on your website, your users are at risk. We’d recommend you start by reading the full report and the CSRF Wikipedia page, which goes into greater detail.

[via Simon Willison]

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File Under: Software & Tools

Yahoo Mail Security Flaw Exposes Passwords

ZimbraA hacker working on a way to access Yahoo Mail via IMAP, recently discovered that Yahoo’s desktop e-mail client is sending your password as plain text. That’s bad news for those of you using the desktop client over public wifi connections, where just about anyone with the know-how can see your unencrypted traffic.

Zimbra, creators of what is now the Yahoo Mail desktop client, responded to the news by assuring users that a fix is already in the code and just needs to be pushed out. The problem however seems to be primarily on Yahoo’s end, since the IMAP servers appear to refuse secure connections.

A Zimbra employee writes on the company’s forum site:

This issue has been addressed from Yahoo mail server side and the patches have just been rolled out to all servers. We added related support in desktop client code and it’s in the next release. Once we roll out the next release, server will phase out the old way of authentication. The new way of authentication will not send password over clear channels.

In the mean time we would suggest sticking with the web-based e-mail client when you’re working on public or otherwise insecure internet connections.

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File Under: Software & Tools

Flash Attack Hijacks Your Clipboard

FlashiconNoticed anything strange in your clipboard lately? There’s a new Flash-based attack percolating across the web that can inject potentially dangerous URLs into your clipboard, which you might then inadvertent paste into your browser’s URL bar.

Adobe has acknowledged the attack and says it is investigating a fix. In the mean time, exercise caution when copying Flash data to your clipboard.

It would appear that the attacks are apparently quite sophisticated. Security research firm Sophos reports that, “if the professional looking sites that are being used to distribute this fake alert malware are anything to go by, the criminals behind it are very organized.”

The company goes on to say that the attackers are “using aggressive techniques to infect victims as well — for example large spam campaigns and compromised web sites.”

That means just because you trust the site, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been compromised.

We’ll be sure to let you know when a fix or Flash upgrade is available.

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