Feeds

Firesheep addon updated to exploit Google info leak

Your click history revealed

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Researchers have released a Firefox extension that demonstrates the risks of using Google search services on Wi-Fi hotspots and other unsecured networks: With just a few clicks, attackers can view large chunks of your intimate browsing history, including websites you've already visited.

The proof-of-concept addon is an extension of Firesheep, a Firefox extension released in October that streamlined the process of hijacking private accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and other websites. Neither plug-in exploits newly discovered vulnerabilities. Rather, their significance lies in raising new awareness about an architectural weakness that has plagued the web since its beginning.

The newly released addon automatically intercepts SID, or session ID, cookies that Google uses to personalize search results based on an individual's previous searches. The file is transmitted each time a Google.com website is accessed while a user is logged into her account and can be used to retrieve on average 40 percent of her click history. The cookie is sent in plaintext – in some cases even when a user has deployed services such as HTTPS-Everywhere to force encrypted connections – making it easy to intercept on unsecured networks.

“We extended Firesheep to implement our information leakage attack,” researchers Vincent Toubiana and Vincent Verdot of the Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs wrote in a recently released paper (PDF). “As a result, when a Google SID cookie is captured, the account name appears in the Firesheep sidebar. Double clicking on it starts the attack; double clicking again displays the retrieved list of visited links.”

A Google spokesman sent a statement that read in part:

We consider the concerns raised by these researchers to be fairly academic in nature and not a significant risk to users. Google Web History and our Web Search suggestion service are served over HTTPS, and we have encrypted the back-end server requests associated with the suggestion service as well. We look forward to providing more support for SSL technologies across our product offerings in the future, including changes that will specifically protect hijacked cookies from being used to access search data.

The researchers said users can protect themselves by logging out of their Google accounts while connecting over networks they don't trust. Another countermeasure is to disable Google's “visited” and “social” search filters. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Tor attack nodes RIPPED MASKS off users for 6 MONTHS
Traffic confirmation attack bared users' privates - but to whom?
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.