McAfee website visited by plague of security locusts
Eradication proves difficult
McAfee's website has been has been hit by at least three nasty bugs that left its customers susceptible to phishing and other types of scams. At least one remained unfixed at time of writing, more than 24 hours after it was first disclosed.
The most serious vulnerability, ironically enough, affected McAfee Secure, a service that certifies the security of sites that conduct ecommerce and other sensitive transactions. Mike Bailey of the Skeptikal.org blog found the site suffered from a CSRF, or cross-site request forgery, that could have allowed attackers to take control of customer accounts.
McAfee has already fixed the bug, but during the five weeks that Bailey monitored it, the site continued to bear the McAfee Security logo, raising questions about just how valuable such a mark is. McAfee Secure, after all, is designed to pinpoint precisely these types of vulnerabilities.
It also shines a bright light on the processes McAfee takes to ensure its websites are free of such hazards. According to Bailey, the vulnerable application was not designed with the benefit of an SDL, or secure development lifecycle, which builds products from scratch to make sure they follow security best practices. He also said that prior to the bug being reported, McAfee "had never performed a full code review for web vulnerabilities."
McAfee spokesman Joris Evers said he didn't know whether the application followed an SDL, but in any event, he said the company follows strict practices to make sure its sites are safe.
"Obviously, we have processes in place that check our websites for vulnerabilities, and unfortunately, it appears a couple slipped through. We will look at the processes we have to make sure that if they're broken, they get fixed."
Bailey's report coincided with the discovery of a separate vulnerability on a part of McAfee's website that handles customer rebates. Lance James, co-founder of Secure Science Corporation and author of Phishing Exposed, created a proof-of-concept link that showed how phishers could use the vulnerability to create authentic-looking spoof pages that bear McAfee's domain name and secure sockets layer certificate while directing visitors to pages that try to steal their personal information.
The vulnerability was publicly disclosed on Monday, but at time of writing, more than 24 hours later, the hole remained unpatched.
Evers, the McAfee spokesman, said the company was "very close" to squashing the bug.
A separate batch of bugs in McAfee's website were reported late last week by an independent security group that goes by the name Team Elite.
Of course, no website or software is free of security bugs, but the issue here goes beyond that. First, consider the sheer number and then remember that McAfee is a security company, so the bar for the company is higher. Second, it's time McAfee adopted comprehensive SDLs for its products. That would go a lot farther than a logo in ensuring its considerable base of customers is secure. ®
On late Tuesday, McAfee took the unfixed part of its website offline while the vulnerability was being repaired.
Re CPU Hogging
McAffee does not always run as scheduled, particularly if you do not leave your PC on. It then decides to run itself on an apparently random occasion, usually when you're using an application that needs a lot of processing power.
The updates also seem to play holy hell. Generally it's the most annoying antivirus application I have ever used.
McAfee Secure, after all, is designed to pinpoint precisely these types of vulnerabilities.
Yes, it does pinpoint them and then gives a lovely report which you can choose to totally ignore and so long as none of the vulnerabilities are classified at the highest level you still get to display the little "McAfee Secure" logo.
It's almost, but not quite, entirely pointless - however if you need PCI DSS compliance you HAVE to have, at least, an accredited automated auditor; of which McAfee is one.
Which leads to the conclusions that:
1: PCI DSS is a crock of shit
2: McAfee secure is a marketing tool, not a security tool
3: the PCI are in bed with security vendors dreaming up new ways to screw the punters
Like 3D Secure - NONE of this has much to do with actual credit card security and EVERYTHING to do with shifting liability. The PCI couldn't care less how many people are scammed every year just as long as they're not liable for the losses.
I shall say zees only vonce (again)
You don't need AV on a Windows computer. Ditch McAfee/Norton/AVG/everything else and reclaim your processor's full potential.