Feeds

CookieMonster nabs user creds from secure sites

Secure in name only

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Websites used for email, banking, e-commerce and other sensitive applications just got even less secure with the release of a new tool that siphons users' authentication credentials - even when they're sent through supposedly secure channels.

Dubbed CookieMonster, the toolkit is used in a variety of man-in-the-middle scenarios to trick a victim's browser into turning over the authentication cookies used to gain access to user account sections of a website. Unlike an attack method known as sidejacking, it works with vulnerable websites even when a user's browsing session is encrypted from start to finish using the secure sockets layer (SSL) protocol.

According to Mike Perry, the creator of CookieMonster, websites that appear to be vulnerable to the attack include united.com, bankofamerica.com, register.com, netflix.com, and a host of other big-name online destinations. Errata Security's Rob Graham, who introduced Sidejacking tools a little more than a year ago, says Gmail is not vulnerable as long as a recently implemented https-only option is turned on. But Google Docs, Google's Blogger.com and Google Finance remain wide open.

The vulnerability stems from website developers' failure to designate authentication cookies as secure. That means web browsers are free to send them over the insecure http channel, and that's exactly what CookieMonster causes them to do. It does this by caching all DNS responses and then monitoring hostnames that use port 443 to connect to one of the domain names stored there. CookieMonster then injects images from insecure (non-https) portions of the protected website, and - voila! - the browser sends the authentication cookie. (For a more detailed explanation of how it works, see this link.)

For now, CookieMonster is in the hands of only about 225 security professionals. In the next couple weeks, he plans to make it generally available. Perry says he hopes the limited release will help spread the word that this vulnerabilty needs to be fixed sooner rather than later.

While Perry has listed some two-dozen sites that are vulnerable, we're betting the list is much, much bigger. To find out if your bank is susceptible, clear all cookies and then log in to the site. Next, clear all cookies marked as "SECURE" (in Firefox, go to preferences > privacy > show cookies. Delete only the cookies marked as "Encrypted connections only"). Then visit the site again. If you're logged in, there's a strong chance the site is wide open.

If you find any, feel free to report it as a comment. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.