Security researchers have identified cross-site scripting (XSS) issues on the websites of three IT security heavyweights. Coding flaws on the websites of McAfee, Symantec and VeriSign create a possible mechanism for hackers to launch phishing or malware attacks, according to security watchdog XSSed.
Cross-site scripting vulnerabilities create a way for miscreants to insert a script that redirects users to another website. Alternatively the bugs may make it possible to insert an 'iFrame' that displays the contents of a site under the control of hackers in the context of a vulnerable (trusted) site. XSSed has unearthed 30 cross-site scripting flaws on the sites of McAfee, Symantec and Verisign.
VeriSign, best known for its ubiquitous digital certificate service, said that it had fixed the coding errors on its website. It downplayed the significance of the flaws.
In a statement, VeriSign said: "VeriSign took immediate action to fix the issues highlighted in the XXSed clip. As of early Wednesday, all of the issues have been fixed. These security vulnerabilities were minor and did not grant any access to VeriSign systems or customer data."
According to an update by XSSed, McAfee has plugged seven of the eight holes it identified on its site while seven of the 17 scripting shortcomings on Symantec's website remain open.
Symantec issued a statement saying it was working to resolve the remaining issues with its site. Like VeriSign it said the practical impact of the bugs was minimal.
Symantec is aware of the XSS vulnerabilities that exist on our websites. Due to the minuscule amount of external servers that have been impacted by these vulnerabilities, the threat to our customers' information is remote and we have had no reports that their personal information has been impacted.
"We are currently working with our 3rd party vendor partners to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Symantec takes these issues very seriously and is being very thorough in our examination to make sure all potential loopholes have indeed been closed.
McAfee has yet to respond to our request for comment on the issue.
Back in April McAfee was caught certifying a number of third-party sites with cross-site scripting bugs as "hacker safe". Problems of the same kind on its own sites are therefore doubling embarrassing.
The security industry has a history of playing down cross-site scripting flaws. In truth these bugs are prevalent across the web and represent a common class of coding error of varying seriousness, which provides all the more reason for McAfee et al to plug the latest bugs
Rob Rachwald, director of product marketing at coding security firm Fortify Software, said: "These [flaws] are also notable because they have been discovered on IT security vendor's sites, so there's a strong chance that similar flaws exist on many other company's portals.
"Failure to address this problem in a timely manner could see a recurrence of major site hacks using XSS flaws seen on the likes of MySpace and Paypal," he added. ®