Feeds

Google Buzz bug exposes user geo location

'Pretty nasty vulnerability'

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Updated Already besieged by complaints of shoddy user privacy, Google Buzz is was susceptible to exploits that allow an attacker to commandeer accounts and even learn where victims are located, a security researcher said Tuesday.

The XSS, or cross-site scripting, vulnerability is unusual because it affects google.com, the domain that sets authentication cookies for a variety of popular Google services, including Mail, Calendar and Documents. That means an attacker might be able to tamper with victims' accounts simply by tricking them into visiting a booby-trapped link, although the researcher said only cookies for Buzz appeared to be at risk in this case.

What's more, the vulnerability ties into to the much-vaunted Google Location Services, making it possible for the attacker to learn the geographical location of users who have already opted in.

"It's a pretty nasty vulnerability, actually," Robert "RSnake" Hansen, CEO of secTheory.com, told The Register. "If you've already agreed to that before being exploited, which most people will do, then the attacker also gets to know your location."

A Google spokesman said the bug could affect users of Google Buzz for mobile and that company security personnel fixed the bug late on Tuesday, after this article was first published. There are no indications the flaw was actively exploited, he said.

"We understand the importance of our users' security, and we are committed to further improving the security of Google Buzz," he wrote in an email.

The vulnerability is the result of web applications that fail to adequately scrutinize user input for malicious commands that inject unauthorized content and javascript into browsers visiting google.com addresses. The vulnerability, which Hansen said was reported by a hacker known as TrainReq, is also notable because it works over the SSL, or secure sockets layer, protocol.

The resulting "https" and "google.com" included in the address is likely to lead some victims into believing the address is safe, he said.

Over the years, Google engineers have done a good job at fortifying the site against XSS flaws. In the rare instances the bugs get through, Google personnel are usually quick at stamping them out once they've been reported. Hansen has more here. ®

This article was updated twice, on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, to include comment from a Google spokesman.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
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
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
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
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
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.