Mozilla addons site targeted in same attack that hit Google

Counterfeiters mint SSL cert for addons.mozilla.org


The secure webpage hosting addons for Mozilla Firefox was targeted in the same attack that minted a fraudulent authentication credential for Google websites, the maker of the open-source browser said.

"DigiNotar informed us that they issued fraudulent certs for addons.mozilla.org in July, and revoked them within a few days of issue," Johnathan Nightingale, Mozilla's director of Firefox development, wrote in a statement. "In the absence of a full account of mis-issued certificates from DigiNotar, the Mozilla team moved quickly to remove DigiNotar from our root program and protect our users."

Nightingale didn't say how many Mozilla certificates were issued and if they were actively used to intercept the communications of people accessing the address. The site hosts hundreds of thousands of addons that give the Thunderbird and Firefox programs powerful functions not included by default.

On Tuesday, Google said a bogus secure sockets layer certificate issued by Dutch firm DigiNotar was used to spy on people located in Iran while visiting Gmail. Counterfeit credentials for “a number of domains” were minted following a security breach on its systems, DigiNotar has said.

Mozilla's confirmation came a few hours after a Dutch news service reported (English translation here) that the DigiNotar breach affected Mozilla and at least four other organizations. Fraudulent certificates for Yahoo.com, the Tor Project, WordPress and the Baladin blogging service in Iran were also generated, the service said without citing any source for that information.

Representatives from Yahoo, the Tor Project, and WordPress didn't immediately respond to inquiries seeking confirmation.

The breach of DigiNotar gave the attackers the digital credentials needed to host spoofs of virtually any Google property that were almost indistinguishable to people using networks controlled by the hackers. The fraudulent certificate showed it was issued on July 10, but it came to light only on Monday. Google hasn't said how long the counterfeit certificate was actively being used in the wild.

An update to Google's open-source Chromium browser published Tuesday appeared to blacklist 247 certificates issued by DigiNotar, suggesting the breach may have been more widespread than previously believed. The certificate authority, which is owned by Vasco Data Security, an Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois-based provider of two-factor authentication products, has declined to quantify the extent of the attack, except to say it affected “a number of domains” including Google's.

Both Google and Microsoft have declined to say how many DigiNotar certificates they plan to blacklist in their software. Representatives from Mozilla have yet to respond to inquiries.

The possibility that other sensitive websites were also targeted only adds to the uncertainty about how widespread the attack was felt. ®

This story was updated to add comment from Johnathan Nightingale and details about the potential number of fraudulent certificates issued.


Other stories you might like

  • GPL legal battle: Vizio told by judge it will have to answer breach-of-contract claims
    Fine-print crucially deemed contractual agreement as well as copyright license in smartTV source-code case

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) has won a significant legal victory in its ongoing effort to force Vizio to publish the source code of its SmartCast TV software, which is said to contain GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 copyleft-licensed components.

    SFC sued Vizio, claiming it was in breach of contract by failing to obey the terms of the GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 licenses that require source code to be made public when certain conditions are met, and sought declaratory relief on behalf of Vizio TV owners. SFC wanted its breach-of-contract arguments to be heard by the Orange County Superior Court in California, though Vizio kicked the matter up to the district court level in central California where it hoped to avoid the contract issue and defend its corner using just federal copyright law.

    On Friday, Federal District Judge Josephine Staton sided with SFC and granted its motion to send its lawsuit back to superior court. To do so, Judge Staton had to decide whether or not the federal Copyright Act preempted the SFC's breach-of-contract allegations; in the end, she decided it didn't.

    Continue reading
  • US brings first-of-its-kind criminal charges of Bitcoin-based sanctions-busting
    Citizen allegedly moved $10m-plus in BTC into banned nation

    US prosecutors have accused an American citizen of illegally funneling more than $10 million in Bitcoin into an economically sanctioned country.

    It's said the resulting criminal charges of sanctions busting through the use of cryptocurrency are the first of their kind to be brought in the US.

    Under the United States' International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEA), it is illegal for a citizen or institution within the US to transfer funds, directly or indirectly, to a sanctioned country, such as Iran, Cuba, North Korea, or Russia. If there is evidence the IEEA was willfully violated, a criminal case should follow. If an individual or financial exchange was unwittingly involved in evading sanctions, they may be subject to civil action. 

    Continue reading
  • Meta hires network chip guru from Intel: What does this mean for future silicon?
    Why be a customer when you can develop your own custom semiconductors

    Analysis Here's something that should raise eyebrows in the datacenter world: Facebook parent company Meta has hired a veteran networking chip engineer from Intel to lead silicon design efforts in the internet giant's infrastructure hardware engineering group.

    Jon Dama started as director of silicon in May for Meta's infrastructure hardware group, a role that has him "responsible for several design teams innovating the datacenter for scale," according to his LinkedIn profile. In a blurb, Dama indicated that a team is already in place at Meta, and he hopes to "scale the next several doublings of data processing" with them.

    Though we couldn't confirm it, we think it's likely that Dama is reporting to Alexis Bjorlin, Meta's vice president of infrastructure hardware who previously worked with Dama when she was general manager of Intel's Connectivity group before serving a two-year stint at Broadcom.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022