Simon Willison’s Weblog

Items tagged security in 2007

Filters: Year: 2007 × security ×

The backdooring of SquirrelMail. A SquirrelMail developer’s account was compromised and used to insert a backdoor: the other developers initially missed the hole because it used $_SERVER[’HTTP_BASE_PATH’], which can be set with a Base-Path: HTTP header. # 28th December 2007, 11:40 pm

David Airey: Google’s Gmail security failure leaves my business sabotaged (via) Gmail had a CSRF hole a while ago that allowed attackers to add forwarding filter rules to your account. David Airey’s domain name was hijacked by an extortionist who forwarded the transfer confirmation e-mail on to themselves. # 26th December 2007, 12:16 pm

IPy. Handy Python module for manipulating IP addresses—use IP(ip_addr).iptype() == ’PUBLIC’ to check that an address isn’t in a private address range. # 24th December 2007, 1:19 pm

Why the h can’t Rails escape HTML automatically? It would be a pretty huge change, but auto-escaping in Rails 2.0 could close up a lot of accidental XSS holes. # 1st December 2007, 8:34 pm

Why Virtual Theft Should Matter to Real Life Tech Companies. Interesting trend: sites that profit from sales of virtual goods (such as Habbo Hotel) are seeing users use phishing attacks to steal those goods from each other. # 18th November 2007, 11:21 am

I don’t understand why the NSA was so insistent about including Dual_EC_DRBG in the standard. It makes no sense as a trap door: It’s public, and rather obvious. It makes no sense from an engineering perspective: It’s too slow for anyone to willingly use it. And it makes no sense from a backwards-compatibility perspective: Swapping one random-number generator for another is easy.

Bruce Schneier # 16th November 2007, 10:25 am

Django Changeset 6671. Malcolm Tredinnick: “Implemented auto-escaping of variable output in templates”. Fantastic—Django now has protection against accidental XSS holes, turned on by default. # 14th November 2007, 5:05 pm

In the long term, I want to replace JavaScript and the DOM with a smarter, safer design. In the medium term, I want to use something like Google Gears to give us vats with which we can have safe mashups. But in the short term, I recommend that you be using Firefox with No Script. Until we get things right, it seems to be the best we can do.

Douglas Crockford # 7th November 2007, 3:36 pm

A Roundup Of Leopard Security Features (via) Thomas Ptacek’s overview of the new security features in Leopard. Guest Accounts are worthless from a security P.O.V., but I still plan to use one for our PowerBook that’s now just a media player. # 31st October 2007, 5:30 pm

Django security fix released. Django’s internationalisation system has a denial of service hole in it; you’re vulnerable if you are using the i18n middleware. Fixes have been made available for trunk, 0.96, 0.95 and 0.91. # 26th October 2007, 9:47 pm

Site-specific browsers and GreaseKit. New site-specific browser tool which lets you include a bunch of Greasemonkey scripts. For me, the killer feature of site-specific browsers is still cookie isolation (to minimise the impact of XSS and CSRF holes) but none of the current batch of tools advertise this as a feature, and most seem to want to share the system-wide cookie jar. # 25th October 2007, 7:56 am

A school in the UK is using RFID chips in school uniforms to track attendance. So now it’s easy to cut class; just ask someone to carry your shirt around the building while you’re elsewhere.

Bruce Schneier # 24th October 2007, 8:36 pm

MyOpenID adds Information Card Support. First client SSL certificates, now Information Cards. MyOpenID is certainly taking browser-based phishing solutions seriously. # 18th October 2007, 9:10 pm

Historically, Internet companies have rarely encrypted passwords to aid customer service.

Fasthosts # 18th October 2007, 5:27 pm

Gozi Trojan. The full security paper on the Gozi trojan: how it was discovered, how it was traced and details of the “customer interface for on-line purchases of stolen data” at the other end (which, incidentally, was ridden with security holes). # 17th October 2007, 10:03 pm

Global Hackers Create a New Online Crime Economy (via) Fascinating, detailed look at the evolution of the hacker service economy. Of particular interest: a web application that sells access to hacked machines to identity thieves on a timeshare basis. # 17th October 2007, 9:46 pm

Two months with Ruby on Rails. Good rant—covers both the good and the bad. The first complaint is the lack of XSS protection by default in the template language. Django has the same problem, but the solution was 90% there when I saw Malcolm at OSCON. # 9th October 2007, 12:23 pm

The Storm Worm. Bruce Schneier describes the Storm Worm, a fantastically advanced piece of malware that’s been spreading for nearly a year and is proving almost impossible to combat. Its effects are virtually invisible but infected machines are added to a multi-million machine botnet apparently controlled by anonymous Russian hackers. # 6th October 2007, 12:25 am

Rails 1.2.4: Maintenance release. “Session fixation attacks are mitigated by removing support for URL-based sessions”—I’ve always hated URL-based sessions; I’d be interested to hear if their removal from Rails causes legitimate problems for anyone. # 5th October 2007, 11:42 pm

Amazon makes you lie to log off (via) Amazingly, the only way to sign out of Amazon these days is to use the “If you’re not XXX, click here” link—the traditional “sign out” link has quietly vanished. # 2nd October 2007, 1:19 pm

Cronto. I saw a demo of this the other day—it’s a neat anti-phishing scheme that also protects against man in the middle attacks. It works using challenge/response: an image is shown which embeds a signed transaction code; the user then uses an application on their laptop or mobile phone to decode the image and enters the resulting code back in to the online application. # 2nd October 2007, 1:14 am

Designing for a security breach

User account breaches are inevitable. We should take that in to account when designing our applications.

[... 545 words]

Currently WebRunner applications share cookies with other WebRunner applications, but not with Firefox. WebRunner uses its own profile, not Firefox’s profile. There is a plan to allow WebRunner applications to create their own, private profiles as well.

Mark Finkle # 30th September 2007, 4:08 pm

WebRunner 0.7—New and Improved. A simple application for running a site-specific browser for a service (e.g. Twitter, Gmail etc). This is a great idea: it isolates your other browser windows from crashes and also isolates your cookies, helping guard against CSRF attacks. # 27th September 2007, 1:55 pm

Google GMail E-mail Hijack Technique. Apparently Gmail has a CSRF vulnerability that lets malicious sites add new filters to your filter list—meaning an attacker could add a rule that forwards all messages to them without your knowledge. # 27th September 2007, 10:29 am

A typical phishing email will have a generic greeting, such as ’Dear User’. Note: All PayPal emails will greet you by your first and last name.

PayPal's Phishing Guide # 22nd September 2007, 2:33 pm

HTTPOnly cookie support in Firefox. Five years after the bug was filed, HTTPOnly cookie support has gone in to the Mozilla 1.8 branch. This is a defence in depth feature that has been in IE for years—it lets you set cookies that aren’t available to JavaScript, and hence can’t be hijacked in the event of an XSS flaw. # 6th September 2007, 6:27 am

E-Voting Ballots Not Secret; Vendors Don’t See Problem. “You know things are bad when questions about a technical matter like security are answered by a public-relations firm.” # 20th August 2007, 3:19 pm

VeriSign’s SeatBelt OpenID plugin for Firefox. The first good example of browser integration for OpenID. It catches phishing attempts by watching out for rogue OpenID consumers that don’t redirect to the right place. # 17th August 2007, 5:37 pm

Bruce Schneier interviews Kip Hawley. The head of the Transportation Security Administration in conversation with one of his most eloquent critics. # 7th August 2007, 3:23 pm