Feeds

Google silences Gmail security blogorumors

Domain hijack vuln doesn't exist

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Google security pros have taken exception to recent reports of a Gmail vulnerability that led to a rash of domain hijackings. They were the result of a plain-vanilla phishing campaign, they say.

The erroneous reports appear to have originated here, when the MakeUseOf blog reported its domain name was commandeered after someone gained unauthorized access to the owner's Gmail account and from there accessed the author's account with domain registrar GoDaddy. The author went on to argue that a Gmail vulnerability was the weak link that caused the chain to break.

Other blogs quickly followed suit, with Geek Condition creating a detailed proof of concept for setting up a Gmail filter that automatically forwards all email sent from GoDaddy support to an address controlled by the attacker. ReadWriteWeb also got in on the action, here posting a timeline for a vulnerability that, like Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster, many people were sure existed but didn't quite have proof.

But in a blog post published Tuesday, Google security researcher Chris Evans effectively said Big Foot doesn't exist. Or at least the evidence some claimed proved Big Foot's existed wasn't accurate.

"With help from affected users, we determined that the cause was a phishing scheme, a common method used by malicious actors to trick people into sharing their sensitive information," Evans wrote. "Attackers sent customized emails encouraging web domain owners to visit fraudulent websites such as "google-hosts.com" that they set up purely to harvest usernames and passwords."

Once the phishers gained access to the Gmail account, they created filters that "forwarded messages from web domain providers."

Evans went on to refute a claim made last year that a separate domain theft was also the result of a different vulnerability in Gmail. Google did discover a cross-site request forgery in its email service in September, but fixed it within 24 hours. Last year, blogger David Airey reported his domain name was stolen in November and he blamed a vulnerability in Gmail for the theft.

"Neither this bug nor any other Gmail bug was involved in the December 2007 domain theft," Evans wrote. (We're pretty sure he meant to say November.)

Evans reminded the public of the value in turning on Gmail's HTTPS-only feature, which ensures that connections are always encrypted. Over the past few months, Google has finally extended the feature to its Google Apps users. If only eBay, PayPal Yahoo and the rest of online world offered similar services. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
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
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.