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Google finally fixes Desktop security vuln

Staff: 'Gone phishing'

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The first flaw in Google's Desktop Search product has been discovered, and now fixed, according to the giant ad broker. The JavaScript vulnerability allowed third party websites to view the results of searches made on your local hard drive. It took Google four days to address the problem, and according to the Javascript expert who raised the alarm, it still hasn't been adequately patched.

Software developer Jim Ley, who maintains the comp.lang.javascript FAQ, announced the flaw on Monday on his weblog. But nobody noticed. Ley's email message to security@google.com bounced. He looked in vain for a security hotline number.

On Tuesday he demonstrated an ingenious potential application of the bug: a phishing exploit that announced that Google was becoming a subscription service, and invited the victim to enter their credit card details. Still no response.

Google finally sat up and took notice after the vulnerability was posted on the Security Focus BugTraq mailing list. Google couldn't explain why it didn't have a working email or phone contact for security alerts, but according to Jim, seemed anxious that he remove the phishing example.

In fact as he points out, the vulnerability is over two years old.

"Hopefully Google will get in touch explain what went wrong with the communication of the issue, hopefully Google will realise that a phone number of the security team on the web would also help," he writes.

"The fix they put in place is still flawed, it relies on special casing the vbscript, javascript and perlscript strings, meaning other language protocols are still at risk in IE with its multiple scripting language capability."

It's good to know Google takes security as seriously as it takes privacy. ®

Related Links

Jim's weblog
Bugtraq alert

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