Feeds

Google Buzz bug exposes user geo location

'Pretty nasty vulnerability'

Security for virtualized datacentres

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.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
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.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.