Feeds

Webmail bug puts 40m accounts in jeopardy

One attack pwns all

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

A web-borne vulnerability lurking in a popular email application seriously compromised the security of 40 million accounts until it was fixed early last month, independent researchers said.

The flaw, in the Memova messaging application sold by a company known as Critical Path, is yet another testament to the awesome power of XSS, or cross site scripting, vulnerabilities. Combined with another bug, it allowed attackers to surreptitiously forward the email of millions of end-users from some of Europe's biggest internet service providers.

"The attacker only needs to send a specially crafted email to his victim," independent researchers Rosario Valotta and Matteo Carli wrote in an advisory. "As soon as the victim opens the mail (no further interaction required) the forwarding settings of his webmail account of silently modified."

The researchers tested a proof-of-concept attack on Italian ISPs Tiscali, Libero (also known as Wind) and Virgilio (aka Telecom) and found all three to be vulnerable. Using Critical Path press releases announcing customer deployments, they say about a dozen other large ISPs also used Memova, including Vodafone, Virgin, T-Mobile, and Telefonica. All told, that's 40 million combined users, they say.

A video of the PoC is here.

Critical Path representatives hadn't responded to requests for comment by time of publication, but Valotta told The Register the company issued an update patching the vulnerability shortly after it was brought to their attention. "They answered immediately to our advisory," he said. By last week, all of Critical Path's customers had installed it, he added.

What's notable here is that two of the three sites Valotta and Carli tested had implemented protections designed to mitigate the exploitation of XSS vulnerabilities. Specifically, the providers designated one domain for webmail and a separate domain for iframes that display the mail content. Even still, the researchers found a way to bypass the protection using a technique known as reflected XSS.

Yes, the vulnerability has been fixed, and no, there are no reports it was exploited in the wild. Still, the discovery that a single web bug could compromise the privacy of so many accounts had to be more than just a little stunning. More than two-thirds of websites suffer from XSS flaws, Jeremiah Grossman, CTO of WhiteHat Security and an expert in website security has estimated. Given the proliferation, odds are that plenty of other accounts are similarly susceptible. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
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.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.