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AUSCERT External Security Bulletin Redistribution
ESB-2007.0730 -- [Appliance]
Google Search Application XSS Vulnerability
27 September 2007
AusCERT Security Bulletin Summary
Product: Google Search Appliance
Publisher: UK Centre for the Protection of National
Operating System: Network Appliance
Impact: Cross-site Scripting
Original Bulletin: http://www.cpni.gov.uk/Products/3402.aspx
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CSIRTUK ADVISORY - 3402 dated 26.09.07 time 13:58
Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI)
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Google Search Application XSS Vulnerability
Date: 26 September 2007 13:58
Title: 3402 - Google Search Application XSS Vulnerability
Abstract: Description of a reported vulnerability in Google Search
Appliance by GovCERTUK.
Applications affected:Google Search Application
Advisory type: Information
Reliability of source: Trusted
Source URL: http://www.govcertuk.gov.uk/
On the 18th September 2007, a Ukrainian Website reported that a Cross
Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability existed in the Google Search
Application. The Google Search Application can be used for searching a
local website, and is widely used on Internet facing websites to provide
search functionality both internally and externally.
Cross Site Scripting (XSS)
XSS is a common vulnerability that could allow malicious content to be
delivered by an attacker whilst spoofing a legitimate source. Examples
of an XSS vulnerability can be used for malicious activity include:
Attacking other users
An attacker could create a malicious web link that appears to be
legitimate, and distribute it to a large target audience (e.g. via email
or message board posts). The attacker would need to convince users to
visit the malicious site, and by using a .gov.uk URL it can add
significant credibility to this, as it appears to be hosted at a
legitimate, trusted domain. Anyone that follows the link would load a
webpage containing malicious code. This is then executed on the local
machine utilising vulnerabilities in the browser (see Appendix A)
allowing an attacker to take control of the local machine.
An attacker could send out a crafted email that, using social
engineering techniques convinces a user to visit a website. The link
that the user clicks however directs them to a site that the attacker
has crafted to look authentic. This site encourages the user to provide
personal information, which is then submitted to a site the attacker
Using XSS it could be possible for an attacker to alter the content of a
web page. This could include altering text as well as the addition of
damaging or defamatory statements. For example, an attacker could add a
political statement, or generally deface the site.
How this affects the Google Search Application
The Google Search Application is vulnerable to the above mentioned XSS
vulnerabilities. This means that a vulnerable website could be used to
deliver malicious content to an end user.
There are also more advanced attacks possible using XSS, including
persisting XSS code across sites, attacking intranet sites and proxy
browsing. However at this time it is not thought that the Google Search
Application is vulnerable to these advanced XSS attacks.
GovCertUK advises that the Google Search Application be completely
disabled until Google issue a patch to resolve this vulnerability.
In addition to this there are steps that should be taken to prevent
further XSS exploitation:
All user input should be validated for potentially malicious input. For
example, an input field for a telephone number should be validated to
remove all non-numeric characters.
All user input should be encoded into HTML. This prevents special
characters, such as '&' or '<', from being interpreted as HTML itself.
Departments are reminded that proper content filtering will also help
prevent XSS and other vulnerabilities.
There are various browser vulnerabilities that exist that could allow an
attacker to gain control of the user's machine. Common vulnerabilities
The RDS.Dataspace vulnerability (MS06-014)
The VML vulnerability (MS06-055)
The ANI vulnerability (MS07-017)
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CSIRTUK wishes to acknowledge the contributions of GovCERTUK for the
information contained in this advisory.
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<End of CPNI Advisory>
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