Feeds

eBay's phishy old problem

We were wrong, but is eBay wronger?

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

So, while we agree there is a balance to be struck between security and functionality, we feel eBay has made the wrong decision and is exposing its users to an unacceptable degree of risk. The company, on the other hand, believes this is "not a huge concern or issue - it is miniscule". Ultimately, that is a matter of opinion, so we asked the opinion of a couple of industry experts in the field of security.

Robert Schifreen (security expert and author of Defeating the Hacker) said: "If eBay allows [these] tags within item descriptions, it would appear to me that they understand very little about the basic theory behind writing secure web-based applications.

"One of the golden rules is that you must strip out all html tags from user input, apart from a small subset containing any tags that you specifically want to allow (such as bold or italic text). Allowing users to publish their Javascript programs at will on eBay is asking for trouble, and linking to phishing sites is just the start of it.

"Claiming that it's not a problem because links to phishing sites are quickly removed is, frankly, beyond belief for a high-profile site such as eBay. They should know better."

Nigel Stanley, security practice leader at Bloor Research took no prisoners either. "eBay need a good kick up the backside for allowing such a vulnerability to persist on their site. The very nature of consumer auction sites means that many inexperienced and naïve users will be spending a lot of money on goods believing that they are safe and secure. If this was a two-bit outfit I may give them the benefit of the doubt, but eBay should know better."

So, it isn't just us then.

eBay's reply

We gave eBay the opportunity to reply to our concerns. This is what it said:

"Due to overwhelming demand from the eBay Community, we allow users to use active code in their listing. This enables them to use a number of tools which enhance the content of their listings. A small number of unscrupulous individuals have abused this opportunity to enter malicious code into their listings. In the rare instances where this occurs, it is typically detected by eBay and we've worked swiftly to remove them."

We can see the point, but we think the logic is weak. Of course users want better tools for producing more attractive listings. Whether it be software tools or fairground attractions, people always want bigger, better and faster. That's human nature. But they also have an expectation that the software/attraction will be safe and are justifiably upset when they find out it isn't.

As Jeff Goldblum says in The Lost World: Jurassic Park "Oooh! Ahhh! That's how it always starts. Then later there's running and screaming." ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft to bake Skype into IE, without plugins
Redmond thinks the Object Real-Time Communications API for WebRTC is ready to roll
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
Mozilla: Spidermonkey ATE Apple's JavaScriptCore, THRASHED Google V8
Moz man claims the win on rivals' own benchmarks
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY
'Nerd release' finally staggers past 50 per cent adoption
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Ubuntu 14.10 tries pulling a Steve Ballmer on cloudy offerings
Oi, Windows, centOS and openSUSE – behave, we're all friends here
Was ist das? Eine neue Suse Linux Enterprise? Ausgezeichnet!
Version 12 first major-number Suse release since 2009
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.