Feeds

Net game turns PC into undercover surveillance zombie

Smile, your webcam has been clickjacked

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Underscoring the severity of a new class of vulnerability known as clickjacking, a blogger has created a proof-of-concept game that uses a PC's video cam and microphone to secretly spy on the player.

The demo, which is available here, appears to be a simple game that tests how quickly a user can click on a series of moving targets. Behind the scenes, it combines a generic clickjacking attack with weaknesses in Adobe's Flash technology to record the player using the PC's video camera and microphone.

The proof of concept is a powerful demonstration of the spooky implications behind clickjacking. The vulnerability allows malicious webmasters to control the links visitors click on. Once lured to a booby-trapped page, a user may think he's clicking on a link that leads to Google - when in fact it takes him to a money transfer page, a banner ad that's part of a click-fraud scheme, or any other destination the attacker chooses.

It plagues every major browser, Adobe Flash, and many other browsing technologies, according to Jeremiah Grossman and Robert "RSnake" Hansen, the researchers who first sounded the clickjacking alarm. The pair was scheduled to detail the threat two weeks ago at at OWASP's AppSec 2008 Conference in New York, but canceled the talk at the request of Adobe.

The unnamed blogger behind the game said his proof of concept used Flash, but the writer went on to say that the same thing could have been achieved using Java, SilverLight, or Dynamic Hyper Text Markup Language.

In our tests, the the proof-of-concept didn't work until after we enabled our video cam in the Windows XP Device Manager. Even then, we had trouble getting it to work with Firefox, possibly because we had the NoScript extension running (but disabled). But we had no such problems when using Internet Explorer. Within 40 seconds of pressing start, there we were playing the game. The words "Your camera was clickjacked" appeared in red.

Doubting Thomases will say the answer is to disable cams, mics, and other devices that can be misused or to simply uninstall Flash. But this is to miss the larger point: Right now, unknown web masters throughout the world can control the links you click on simply by luring you to their page. The list of ways this can be abused - we're thinking government spying, corporate espionage, cyber stalking, click fraud, and even creepier things we won't bother to mention - is limited only by the imagination. Turning off the webcam may limit the damage, but it doesn't remove the underlying threat.

"I had doubts about publishing this, but, if I could have understand [sic] it so are the bad guys, so it's better to know about it," the blogger writes.

After an earlier version of this story was published, Adobe issued this advisory giving step-by-step instructions for working around the threat while a fix is pending. The company also said it expected to patch the vulnerability by the end of October. So far, makers of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Java, Safari, SilverLight and the horde of other programs vulnerable to clickjacking have been mum. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.