Major security sites hit by XSS bugsJune 12, 2008 – 6:03 AM
The websites of three of the security industry’s best-known companies include security flaws that could be used to launch scams against customers, according to a new report.
The report, from security watchdog site XSSed, verified 30 cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities across the sites of McAfee, Symantec and VeriSign. The flaws could be used to launch scams or implant malicious code on the systems of visiting users, according to XSSed.
Recent research has shown that attackers are increasingly – even predominantly – now using legitimate sites to host their malware, a tactic that makes the malware distribution sites more difficult to shut down.
XSSed’s results show that even major security firms are not exempt from the problem, according to XSSed.
In January XSSed found that 60 websites that had received a “Hacker Safe” certification from McAfee’s ScanAlert service were in fact vulnerable to XSS attacks.
McAfee and other major security firms have downplayed the seriousness of XSS flaws, compared for instance to flaws that allow an attacker direct access to customer data stored on a server.
In recent months the real-world exploitation of XSS flaws has boomed, exploiting major websites such as MySpace, Paypal and a major Italian bank.
Last week ScanSafe reported that 68 percent of all malware it blocked in May was found on legitimate sites that had been hacked, more than quadruple the level of a year earlier.
Such flaws can be used to steal user cookies, to steal website login credentials and to exploit users’ trust of a site in other ways, and in theory can be shut down quickly once the owner of the site is made aware of the problem.