Mozilla Partially Vulnerable to Internet Explorer URL Spoofing Security Flaw
Thursday December 11th, 2003
koody wrote in to tell us that Mozilla is partially vulnerable to the recently announced URL spoofing security hole in Internet Explorer. The latest IE flaw allows an attacker to disguise the true domain of a URL in the browser's Address Bar, allowing a page located at evilscam.net to appear to be from microsoft.com. This exploit can be used to increase the effectiveness of the so-called 'phishing' scams that have recently been used to target customers of PayPal, eBay and several online banks.
The Address Bar URL spoofing flaw was originally reported by Sam "Zap The Dingbat" Greenhalgh, who provided details of the exploit and a demonstration. Security company Secunia issued an advisory about the vulnerability, with an update from Chris Hall reporting that the URL shown in the Status Bar while mousing over a link to a spoofed page is also affected. While Mozilla-based browsers such as the Mozilla Application Suite and Mozilla Firebird are immune to the more serious Address Bar spoofing, they appear to be vulnerable to the Status Bar variant.
The Secunia Internet Explorer Address Bar Spoofing Test page demonstrates both the full flaw in IE and the Status Bar aspect of it that affects Mozilla. The relevant Bugzilla report is bug 228176, which was filed today and already has a preliminary patch attached (please do not add unnecessary comments to the bug; the developers are already aware of its seriousness). Mozilla users are advised to not rely on the URL displayed in the Status Bar and to check the complete address of the destination page in the Location Bar upon arrival.
#1 Looks okay to me
Thursday December 11th, 2003 7:53 PM
I don't see anything to indicate that Mozilla is partially vulnerable. My URL bar in 1.6a looks just fine, displaying the whole thing, including the "nonprinting" character. The article indicates that Firebird is affected, but the Mozilla suite seems not to be. Firebird is too buggy for regular browsing duty anyway...
Thursday December 11th, 2003 8:11 PM
In 1.5, I get an odd character after the link in the statusbar, so it's IMO even a partial of a partial vulnerability.
#14 Re: However
Friday December 12th, 2003 1:03 AM
That character only appears because they've set up the test incorrectly (from the point of view of testing the Mozilla bug) - all that's needed is a null character %00 in the URL - that has %01%00 and Mozilla tries to display %01 which leads (at least on Linux) to a 'character with no assosiated glyph' symbol. See the test page I set up: http://zeus.jesus.cam.ac.uk/~jg307/test/exploit.html As far as I know, the first case causes problems in both Mozilla and IE, the second only in IE.
#15 Re: Looks okay to me
Friday December 12th, 2003 1:29 AM
look at *status bar*. Url bar is OK, but not status bar
here is next example:
When U make 'onmouseover' the link you will see microsoft.com in status bar
Thursday December 11th, 2003 8:04 PM
Ok... I didn't read it fully before I replied. Never mind... I see what they mean by "partially vulnerable."
#4 except that
Thursday December 11th, 2003 8:45 PM
The URL in the status bar when hovering over the link said "http://www.microsoft.com" If it were a valid URL Firebird would have said "http://www.microsoft.com/" If you really pay that much attention to what's in your status bar (that you're going to base your navigation on it), you'd probably notice that one character difference.
#5 firebird 12/02 build is fine.
Thursday December 11th, 2003 9:10 PM
#6 K-Meleon 0.8 not affected
Thursday December 11th, 2003 9:18 PM
This problem doesn't appear to affect the current release of K-Meleon.
#10 Re: K-Meleon 0.8 not affected
Thursday December 11th, 2003 10:33 PM
I'm using k-meleon 0.8, and it IS affected
#11 Re: Re: K-Meleon 0.8 not affected
Thursday December 11th, 2003 11:31 PM
Looks like you are right. Testers had reported there wasn't a problem.
#7 Mozilla Firebird 0.7
Thursday December 11th, 2003 9:24 PM
When hovered over, the status bar shows the fake URL with a square after it.
Once at the destination page, the address bar shows the entire real URL, beginning with the spoofed URL and continuing with @malicious_domain. Unsavvy web surfers could easily mistaken this to be a real page under the official URL when in fact it is not.
#12 Re: Mozilla Firebird 0.7
Thursday December 11th, 2003 11:38 PM
<i>Unsavvy web surfers could easily mistaken this to be a real page under the official URL when in fact it is not.</i>
Yeah, but that's always been true, for all browsers. @-spoofing is something users have to be educated about, of course, but it isn't anything new.
What's tricky about this one in IE is, when you go to the destination page, you only see the spoofed URL, not anything after it. With the unprintable character, IE hides the malicious domain. User education is not enough; they would have to check the page source for the link before clicking on a link to be sure it's legit. <i>That's</i> a major problem.
#16 Not all browsers are equal
Friday December 12th, 2003 1:58 AM
<<Yeah, but that's always been true, for all browsers. @-spoofing is something users have to be educated about, of course, but it isn't anything new.>> It isn't, that's true, and that's why Opera warns the user with a little popup that the URL could be spoofed in these cases, which is a clever thing to do IMO.
#19 Vote for the bug!
Friday December 12th, 2003 3:33 AM
http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=122445 is a request for an Opera-style warning in Mozilla.
#8 not that serious
Thursday December 11th, 2003 9:50 PM
#9 Re: not that serious
Thursday December 11th, 2003 10:13 PM
#13 opera 7.23 not affected
Friday December 12th, 2003 12:13 AM
tested it in opera 7.23 just out of curiousity, and it is not affected.
#17 Should I file a feature request?
Friday December 12th, 2003 2:44 AM
I've just had a silly idea:
Should mozilla syntax-highlight the contents of the address field? Nothing too gareish, just a subtle indication of which part is the server name, which part is the path, and which part is the query-string, and so on.
Since I am a programmer, I am very used to looking at syntax-highlighted text, and I like it.
Then, since it is very rarely used, you could use a really bright colour for the username/password bit, and suddenly phishing wouldn't work any more.
#18 Re: Should I file a feature request?
Friday December 12th, 2003 2:50 AM
That's already filed as bug 184074 http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=184074
#21 Re: Should I file .... syntax-highlight in url bar
Friday December 12th, 2003 5:18 AM
Tim, you might add this your idea as a comment in Bugzilla Bug 184074.
The bug is allready about syntax-highlighting in the address bar. Your (not so silly) idea is a valuable contribution to the thinking about this issue.
"... just a subtle indication of which part is the server name, which part is the path, and which part is the query-string ..."
"... use a really bright colour for the username/password bit, and suddenly phishing wouldn't work any more."
#40 Re: Re: Should I file .... syntax-highlight in url
Sunday December 14th, 2003 7:49 AM
Gets my vote. That would be the best idea. OR as an alternative, if there is a username and an address, split the address bar into three parts (user, password, URL) so it's blindingly obvious. Then you wouldn't need to muck around with colourising (which strikes me as leading to introduce new bugs / confusion etc.
Just my 2p worth
Sunday December 14th, 2003 4:51 PM
I just voted for it
#20 other browsers, vulnerability
Friday December 12th, 2003 4:00 AM
Taking the (3) mentioned tests on my (4) browsers, under Windows98, my results are:
Opera (7.11): not affected, even gives a security warning pop-up. Amaya (8.1a): not affected. Mozilla (1.5): partially affected (as mentioned above). Internet Explorer (6.0): affected.
Friday December 12th, 2003 5:23 AM
I thought this @spoofing business had been around for a while?
#23 GET THIS FIXED...
Friday December 12th, 2003 6:18 AM
this bug can be just as serious on Mozilla as on IE (even though the URL field is not affected)
Look at following scenario: - i view web site "www.misc.com" - I see link to "java.sun.com", hover over link and see that sure.. link leads to java.sun.com - i click on link, and because I am on a fast broadband connection, i dont see the "connecting to www.owned.ru" or whatever because new page loads up very quickly. - when i see url, i see something longer than java.sun.com, but this is happens (redirect), therefore i dont suspect anythign wrong, unless i actually LOOK at the address properly. - click on the download and install Java.XPI - browser asks if i wish to install Java.XPI, and all the crap abotu viruses. - i believe i am in java.sun.com and click ok.. - my computer is 0wned
compromised due to false sense of security.
#24 RFC and IE have problems, not Mozilla
Friday December 12th, 2003 7:31 AM
And about the fact that the url is redirected, at IE and Mozilla, it is working just like it should be, this is not a bug. If you read the http RFC you will see that you can have ascii letters and some symbols as usernames, so is perfectly legal:
The dot is allowed because of names, like:
If this is a type of problem, is a RFC problem.
The REAL BUG is the fact of IE hiding the rest of the phrase by the use of the "%01" sequence.
#25 More vulnerabilitys
Friday December 12th, 2003 9:22 AM
I will be refererring to this: http://vbalex.dyndns.org:8080/linkto.php?url=http://email@example.com/internet_explorer_address_bar_spoofing_test/
This is my home server, so please don't DDoS me. Maybe somebody with a real server could mirror this before I'm completly disabled. IM me at MSN/Y!/AIM: vbAlexDOSMan, Jabber: IReadYourEmail@jabber.org/Home, ICQ: 271781078 for the code.
At that URL, notice that it, for one, shows http://microsoft.com/ in the title bar, whereas when you check the source, it's actually the malicious URL. Also, try going into the source view and copying the URL and pasteing it somewhere... It cuts off the malicious part of the URL (not to mention the rest of the line.) Maybe this has something to do with C/C++'s null terminated strings?
My friend also says that Opera is vulnerable to the title bar vulnerablility too.
I've noticed the title bar vulnerability is non-existant when the 0 character isn't inlined in the code... e.g. %00 doesn't throw it off, but because I'm using PHP to demo this, the %00 is unescaped into the raw 0 character before my code can even touch it.
#29 More vulnerabilities
Friday December 12th, 2003 12:01 PM
In your example page, the link actually does go to the Microsoft site (at least when I tried it in the Mozilla suite). Because you included the slash after microsoft.com, that ends the hostname portion and the remaining part is simply used as a path to send to that server.
Only URLs without the slash right after the "faked" hostname will "work" the way the exploiters wish. Hence, people sufficiently alert to notice the absence of the slash can possibly be clued into something being fishy, though many real site links also leave off the slash because webmasters are lazy about that sort of thing.
#31 Re: More vulnerabilities
Friday December 12th, 2003 3:54 PM
Sorry, didn't know about that :D
URL *with* literal character 0: http://vbalex.dyndns.org:8080/linkto.php?url=http://firstname.lastname@example.org/internet_explorer_address_bar_spoofing_test/
And with an escaped character 0: http://vbalex.dyndns.org:8080/linkto.php?url=http://email@example.com/internet_explorer_address_bar_spoofing_test/
My observation: It only works as advertised if the character 0 is escaped. If the \0 is raw, the link will bring up the actual site displayed (microsoft.com.)
I'm tired, and probably sounding stupid. Sorry :)
#32 Re: More vulnerabilities
Saturday December 13th, 2003 4:00 AM
%2f is a slash
http://firstname.lastname@example.org/ may well display as http://www.microsoft.com/ in a statusbar, though it will not show with the '/' in the address bar
#33 Re: More vulnerabilities
Saturday December 13th, 2003 4:02 AM
duh : http://email@example.com/
#34 Re: More vulnerabilities
Saturday December 13th, 2003 4:04 AM
a duh on behalf of the uri spotter and linker : ]
#26 Statusbar should not be truted.
Friday December 12th, 2003 10:37 AM
#27 Re: Statusbar should not be truted.
Friday December 12th, 2003 10:50 AM
Friday December 12th, 2003 10:51 AM
Not in Mozilla it doesn't. This is a 100% non-issue as far as I consider.
#30 Re: Reply
Friday December 12th, 2003 1:48 PM
#35 I'm seeing this problem...
Saturday December 13th, 2003 5:14 AM
I'm seeing this problem, as jgraham mentions in comment 30. One thing of interest that people haven't expounded on yet:
For, I believe, the first time, Mozilla and IE are known to have very similar security violations, both found at the same time. If Microsoft were to come out with a patch before Mozilla can solve the bug, it may support a stand that they can fix bugs faster than the open source community.
On the other hand, if Mozilla can fix the bug, wouldn't it be nice to note that we beat MSFT to the punch (again)?
#36 Re: I'm seeing this problem...
Saturday December 13th, 2003 9:05 AM
Depends when you count the bug as "fixed". Microsoft releases binary patches for users to update with. Mozilla might get the source code fixed quickly, but people who just download a release binary won't get a fix until the next release.
And the bug in Mozilla is similar, but not as serious. It only applies to the status bar, which people with script enabled can't trust anyway.
I don't think the bugs and products are similar enough that simple comparisons can be made.
Saturday December 13th, 2003 10:31 AM
I agree with ksheka; even if it's just the source code, there'll still be stuff on even CNET about the fix. Also new nightlies of FB (I think), & Mozilla will contain it so users can upgrade if they want.
#38 this is fixed in kmeleon 8.1
Saturday December 13th, 2003 4:08 PM
the website says that the latest release of kmeleon has this bug fixed..!
#39 Status Bar is not a trusted source...
Saturday December 13th, 2003 4:46 PM
Also note that if you right click on these "spoofed" url and click properties you get the correct url. So even thought this is a bug and should be fixed. It is not a security threat at all.
#42 maby your newbie- friend would be fooled by this..
Sunday December 14th, 2003 8:51 PM
I found some of the comments a bit arrogant, so I am throwing in a webpage.
#43 Easiest workaround (OS Security)
Monday December 15th, 2003 4:59 PM
This comment is probably unfounded (for the average user), but the easiest fix. Use a reliable OS (Linux, etc...) I am running Mozilla 1.x which is vulnerable to the status-bar spoof, but I really don't care as it is running on a Linux box. All of those nice auto-executed and variety of trojan software that M$ is plagued with really isn't a problem (for me). If you want piece of mind to browse and carry on daily computing activities, don't work on an OS that is notorious for being owned due to internal flaws (RPC, etc.).
(Sorry to those who don't agree, had to throw my two-cents in for this thread)
#44 Re: Easiest workaround (OS Security)
Tuesday December 16th, 2003 9:22 AM
RPC was long a big flaw in linux before it ever was windows. In windows you can easyly counter this by shutting down the dcom-service without concequence. There is even a button for it in the windows-gui. Most holes in windows can be easely killed by the user. And you can freely use ZA. Mayby I should throw in another webpage?