Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/01/31/myspace_spam/

Script wreaks havoc on MySpace

Rains down spam, opens door to users' accounts

By Dan Goodin

Posted in Security, 31st January 2007 01:43 GMT

A handful of enterprising people - at least one of them a teen - has devised a Javascript that allows its owner to temporarily access the browser's MySpace account, according to a security professional who was among the first to publicly write about the service.

These people also may have managed to spam about 1.5 million MySpace accounts, according to a Google Search. They pulled off the latter feat in less than three weeks by collecting thousands of passwords, according to one of the operators, in a venture that would appear to violate numerous terms governing the use of the social network.

Spam on MySpace appears to be reaching epidemic levels. Another barrage of junk messages appears to have affected 145,000 MySpace accounts, according to a separate Google search. ("I need you to do this for me, i want to get a free iPhone so i have to get 50 of my friends to go to the thing below and have them put their zipcode in," it reads. "If you could do that it'd be sooo awesome. THANks!!")

Stalkertrack.com advertises a free and upcoming service that tracks the people who visit a client's MySpace profile. Users are required to divulge their MySpace login credentials, and until we interviewed one of the site owners, terms of service permitted Stalkertrack to log in to MySpace users' account and send each friend spam messages promoting the site, according to this Google cache. (Those terms were removed in the last 24 hours.)

MyScare

An analysis on Monday of the Javascript used in this demo showed the kind of data Stalkertrack is able to collect, according to Eric Sites, VP of research at Sunbelt Software. It included the IP address, user name, profile picture, browser type, screen resolution, and in many cases email address of every MySpace user who visited a client's profile.

MySpace has been under fire for an onslaught of worms, pedophile come-ons and phishing attacks over the past few months. While its 90 million-strong user base makes it a favorite target for many miscreants, a host of decisions about the site's technical underpinnings make their job easier.

For instance, MySpace cookies, which Stalkertrack uses to extract visitor information, stores a wealth of data in the clear, including email addresses and other MySpace accounts accessed on the same PC. Add to that the ease of embedding powerful Javascript into pages, and you have a recipe for potential privacy breaches.

What's more, MySpace hosts authentication cookies and user-maintained pages on the same domain, making it harder to prevent cross-site-scripts like the one used by Stalkertrack, says Randolf Jorberg, the quick-spotting security professional.

Josh Holly, who helped devise the Javascript, was able to gain temporarily access to the section of Jorberg's MySpace account that edits his profile, he said. The script pulled out the verification code stored in a cookie sitting on Jorberg's hard drive. Armed with the session ID a person can make changes to the account - except for changing the email address or password - for up to six hours.

We repeatedly called and emailed MySpace representatives to ask if they were aware of Stalkertrack. We got no response. [Social? Networking? Hardly - Ed.]

The Stalkertrack service has yet to launch and likely will not reveal email addresses and other sensitive information once it does, said Holly, who is listed as the owner of a site related to Stalkertrack. For now, the site is using the client sign ups to virally get the word out to MySpace friends. It will begin offering the tracking service within the next few months, said Holly, who added he was 17 years old. The Stalkertrack domain name was created on Jan. 1.

The site has convinced about 10,000 MySpace users to turn over their login details, according to a second person affiliated with the business, who wouldn't give his name. (Holly said the number was 100,000 to 300,000, a figure that struck us as unrealistically high.) A bot uses the information to access the account and sends a spam to each user friend. This second person said the site quickly dumps the account password and doesn't sell the email addresses or use them for spamming purposes.

Stalkertrack is by no means the only outfit offering the tracking of visitors to MySpace user pages. Indeed, eBay auctions purport to sell similar scripts. And a host of sites offered similar services as long ago as last May, according to Security Fix.

The sheer number of MySpace accounts displaying Stalkertrack's service demonstrates the power of viral marketing. It also is a wake-up call about the potential dangers that lurk underneath.

While there's no evidence suggesting Stalkertrack has done anything other than send millions of messages advertising the future service, Jorberg points out recommendations from trusted friends could easily convince users to download and install malicious payloads.

MySpace has not weighed in on whether it believes the service, and the thousands of users who surrendered their passwords, have violated MySpace terms of service. By our reading, however, Stalkertrack has run amok of several conditions, including the sending of junk email, the soliciting of passwords for commercial use and using the account, user name or password of another member. Those users who signed up for the service may also have violated terms barring the disclosure of passwords to third parties.

The second person operating Stalkertrack said he got an email inquiry from MySpace officials but no action was taken against the service. He also said he doesn't believe MySpace terms ban his solicitation of passwords, noting that Google Video does the same thing when MySpace users want to embed content on their profile.

MySpace is perhaps the site that best exemplifies the power of Web 2.0. At its current course, it may soon be the poster child for Spam 2.0. ®