‘Safe’ web still wide open – Windows sleuth

PrivaSec bolts through open stable door

Professor David Martin and Andrew Schulman - the latter best known for his Windows forensics - have updated their analysis of SafeWeb's privacy browsing system, and say it still leaves users "sitting ducks".

SafeWeb licensed the architecture to PrivaSec, which says its suspended its entire product line - including the public demo of the browsing systems - "due to a series of developments." It doesn't say what those developments might be.

At the USENIX Security symposium in San Francisco this week, Martin and Schulman published a paper, pointing out "...at the time of writing, all of our attacks still work within PrivaSec's technology Preview".

A government that wished to identify its SafeWeb users and their master cookies could just periodically intercept HTTP connections crossing their firewall and respond with an HTTP redirect, via SafeWeb, to their own server containing code that grabs master cookies. Another approach would be to use cross-site scripting weaknesses in Web bulletin board systems to deposit exploit code on sites likely to be visited by misbehaving users. Easier still, they could simply buy advertising space for their exploit code."

As an example, the FBI could insert exploit code onto its "Amerithrax" Web page [11] in order to track down visitors who attempt to use SafeWeb to anonymously read about its investigation into the U.S. anthrax attacks of October 2001, say the authors.

You can read Martin and Schulman's new paper here [PDF, 402 kb]. PrivaSec's Carnival of 404s is here. ®

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