Security Market Segment LS
Friday, 23 July 2010 09:18

Safari data disclosure vulnerability disclosed


A security researcher has disclosed a vulnerability in Apple's Safari browser that can be used to steal personal information.

As far back as I can recall, I've been in the habit of making sure that the AutoFill feature in Safari is disabled before I use the browser for the first time on a particular computer. I always felt there was a risk that it could be exploited to grab information without my consent or knowledge.

It turns out my suspicions were correct.

Jeremiah Grossman, chief security officer of WhiteHat Security, has released a proof of concept showing how AutoFill can be used to grab the name, work place, city, state, and email address of a visitor to a web page. No user action is required beyond navigating to the malicious page.

The exploit assumes that the 'Me' card in the user's Address Book is populated with real data, but that is common practice.

Grossmann notes that his exploit does not work with fields that start with a digit, so phone numbers and street addresses cannot be obtained this way.

In the blog entry that disclosed the vulnerability, Grossmann notes that he reported the issue to Apple a little over a month ago, but despite a follow-up email had received no response other than an automated reply to his original notification.

See page 2 to find out how to protect yourself against the vulnerability.

"I have no idea when or if Apple plans to fix the issue, or even if they are aware, but thankfully Safari users only need to disable AutoFill web forms to protect themselves," wrote Grossmann.

To do that, choose Preferences from the Safari menu, click the AutoFill tab, and make sure the three boxes aren't ticked.


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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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