Feeds

Facebook ignores huge security hole for four months

And counting

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Reducing security risks from open source software

Facebook has been sitting on a nasty website flaw that for four months has made its users susceptible to malware and forgery attacks.

The cross-site scripting (XSS) error can be plainly demonstrated here and here. It allows a miscreant to trick a user into believing he is visiting Facebook when the vast majority of the content is being supplied by a website of the attacker's choice.

XSS vulnerabilities are by far the most prevalent type of website vulnerability, according to a new report (PDF) issued Tuesday by White Hat Security, a firm that specializes in website security. They allow attackers to inject code and graphics into familiar websites, creating opportunities to install malware and phish account details even as a browser's address bar bears the name of Google.com, Facebook.com or some other website the user trusts.

In many cases, XSS flaws are self-replicating, as was the case with the so-called Samy worm, which knocked MySpace out of commission after it added more than a million users to the creator's friends page. The JS-Yamanner exploit that hit Yahoo mail in 2006 and last year's quick-moving attack targeting Google Orkut are two other examples of web worms gone wild.

Given how virulent these pests can be, you'd think Facebook would show a little more alacrity in squashing them. But that isn't the case here. According to the Reg reader who alerted us, he first told Facebook personnel about the vulnerability in August.

"I tried to alert Facebook as quickly as was possible - however I received no further correspondence to my communications," he wrote in an email. "It should be worth noting, that according to Bugtraq I'm not the first one to be perplexed with contacting Facebook regarding a security problem!"

Over the past week, an ugly worm dubbed Koobface has menaced plenty of Facebook users with spam and malware attacks without the benefit of a gaping hole. We shudder to think what might happen if miscreants combined such an exploit with a vulnerability like this.

The Facebook hole works with Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari and installations of Firefox that don't use the NoScript plugin (you do use it, yes?). El Reg has asked Facebook representatives for comment and will be sure to update if we get it. ®

Update

Within three hours of the posting of this story, the XSS holes were closed. Representatives from Facebook have yet to respond.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot
Dirty QWERTY a perfect P@ssword1 for garbage websites
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
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
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.