Feeds

Mozilla squashes critical bugs in Firefox

SSL spoofing vuln slain

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Mozilla on Monday issued an update for Firefox that fixes four critical security bugs in the popular open-source browser, including one exposed last week that could make it easy for attackers to spoof SSL certificates used to secure websites.

The vulnerability meant Firefox could be tricked by rogue certificates, a potentially dangerous scenario that could allow attackers to create convincing-looking forgeries of websites used for banking, email and other sensitive services. The technique works by adding a simple null string character to several certificate fields and was independently reported at the Black Hat security conference by researchers Moxie Marlinspike and Dan Kaminsky.

"We strongly recommend that all Firefox users upgrade to this latest release," a statement on Mozilla's website read.

The SSL vulnerability allowed Marlinspike to create what he called a universal wildcard certificate that caused Firefox to authenticate every domain name on the internet. He did so by applying for a normal certificate for his website thoughtcrime.org. In the commonName field he listed the site as *\0.thoughtcrime.org, causing the browser to believe the certificate was universally valid.

The vulnerability was repaired in version 3.5 of the browser, according to this catalog of security advisories. Curiously, the catalog shows the same hole being plugged in version 3.52, which was released Monday. Separate security advisories for 3.0 show it was also fixed in version 3.0.13.

Mozilla said three of its other products - Thunderbird, SeaMonkey and NSS - are vulnerable to the same attack. Presumably, fixes for those applications will be forthcoming.

The patch plugged other critical holes, including crashes that carried evidence of memory corruption, a heap overflow in certificate regexp parsing and a Chrome privilege escalation due to an incorrectly cached wrapper. Vulnerabilities rated critical typically allow an attacker to remotely execute malware on a vulnerable machine with minimal action needed on the part of the end user.

The patch brings the most recent version of Firefox to 3.5.2. For those who are unable to upgrade to version 3.5 of the browser, the open-source outfit issued a patch that brings the older version to 3.0.13. The vulnerabilities apply to the Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.

It's the second time in 18 days that Mozilla has fixed critical bugs in its flagship browser. Two weeks ago, the foundation rushed out a patch to repair a javascript-based memory corruption bug that was already being targeted in the wild.

Marlinspike said most internet client-side software that implements SSL are vulnerable to the null-string bug, so we'd expect this to be the first of many patches fixing that vulnerability. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
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.