Another security hole found in GMail

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Sep 27, 2007

Vulnerability latest in a growing list of holes in Google's web applications.

A significant security hole has been found in Google's web mail application GMail.

Security researcher Petko Petrov announced the discovery of the flaw in GMail (in some countries known as Google Mail) on his website, where he demonstrates a technique that can put a persistent backdoor into a user's GMail account. Petrov has not so far disclosed the full details of the hole, allowing Google the opportunity to fix it.

The technique is an example of a cross-site request forgery (also known as CSRF or XSRF), which lets another website execute code on a site that the user is logged into. In this particular case, visiting a malicious website while being logged in to GMail will insert a filter into the user's account that forwards all mail to another email address. Although the backdoor can easily be removed by the user, it will not be removed as a result of Google fixing the vulnerability.

Vulnerabilities have recently been discovered in several other Google web applications - such as blogging application Blogger and photo-sharing service Picassa - that make use of similar techniques. Technology blog xMoDx has posted an overview of recent holes found in Google applications here.

With more and more people using the Internet for desktop applications like email and word processing, these security holes have become a big threat, and what we have seen so far may only be the beginning. New techniques, like AJAX, certainly increase the range of what the Internet can offer, but they also open up the web to new security threats, thus making it even more important that web developers make sure their websites are resistant to such vulnerabilities.

Posted on 27 September 2007 by Virus Bulletin

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