Cookies MONSTER your security, even with encryption

HTTPS is secure, but cookies are rubbish, warns CERT

A whole lot of work rolling out HTTP security is being undermined by bad browser implementation that facilitates man-in-the-middle attacks.

CERT has warned that all of the major browser vendors have a basic implementation error that mean “cookies set via HTTP requests may allow a remote attacker to bypass HTTPS and reveal private session information”.

The problem was first revealed at Usenix, and the good news for users is that the browser makers have now caught up with the problem, so if you're using the latest versions of Safari, Chrome, IE (11 or later only), Mozilla, Opera or Vivaldi, you're in the clear.

Unprotected browsers accept cookies via HTTPS, but they didn't check the source of an HTTPS cookie. As the advisory states:

“A cookie can contain a “secure” flag, indicating that it should be only sent over an HTTPS connection. Yet there is no corresponding flag to indicate how a cookie was set: attackers who act as a man-in-the-midddle even temporarily on an HTTP session can inject cookies which will be attached to subsequent HTTPS connections”.

For the unprotected browser, that meant an attacker could set an HTTPS cookie masquerading as another site: “an attacker may set cookies for and override the real cookie for”

The malicious cookie is under the attacker's control, but even a user who looks through their cookie list might not realise it's a fake - opening the way for the attacker to grab private information.

In the Usenix paper from August the researchers note that Bank of America and Google both structured their sites in ways that permitted a “cookie injection” attack.

The advisory says site owners should protect users by enabling HSTS (HTTP strict transport security, RFC 6797) with the includeSubdomains option. “This partially mitigates the attacker's ability to set top-level cookies that may override subdomain cookies”.

Or you could just tell your browser to block all cookies. ®

Other stories you might like

  • VMware claims 'bare-metal' performance from virtualized Nvidia GPUs
    Is... is that why Broadcom wants to buy it?

    The future of high-performance computing will be virtualized, VMware's Uday Kurkure has told The Register.

    Kurkure, the lead engineer for VMware's performance engineering team, has spent the past five years working on ways to virtualize machine-learning workloads running on accelerators. Earlier this month his team reported "near or better than bare-metal performance" for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) and Mask R-CNN — two popular machine-learning workloads — running on virtualized GPUs (vGPU) connected using Nvidia's NVLink interconnect.

    NVLink enables compute and memory resources to be shared across up to four GPUs over a high-bandwidth mesh fabric operating at 6.25GB/s per lane compared to PCIe 4.0's 2.5GB/s. The interconnect enabled Kurkure's team to pool 160GB of GPU memory from the Dell PowerEdge system's four 40GB Nvidia A100 SXM GPUs.

    Continue reading
  • Nvidia promises annual datacenter product updates across CPU, GPU, and DPU
    Arm one year, x86 the next, and always faster than a certain chip shop that still can't ship even one standalone GPU

    Computex Nvidia's push deeper into enterprise computing will see its practice of introducing a new GPU architecture every two years brought to its CPUs and data processing units (DPUs, aka SmartNICs).

    Speaking on the company's pre-recorded keynote released to coincide with the Computex exhibition in Taiwan this week, senior vice president for hardware engineering Brian Kelleher spoke of the company's "reputation for unmatched execution on silicon." That's language that needs to be considered in the context of Intel, an Nvidia rival, again delaying a planned entry to the discrete GPU market.

    "We will extend our execution excellence and give each of our chip architectures a two-year rhythm," Kelleher added.

    Continue reading
  • Now Amazon puts 'creepy' AI cameras in UK delivery vans
    Big Bezos is watching you

    Amazon is reportedly installing AI-powered cameras in delivery vans to keep tabs on its drivers in the UK.

    The technology was first deployed, with numerous errors that reportedly denied drivers' bonuses after malfunctions, in the US. Last year, the internet giant produced a corporate video detailing how the cameras monitor drivers' driving behavior for safety reasons. The same system is now apparently being rolled out to vehicles in the UK. 

    Multiple camera lenses are placed under the front mirror. One is directed at the person behind the wheel, one is facing the road, and two are located on either side to provide a wider view. The cameras are monitored by software built by Netradyne, a computer-vision startup focused on driver safety. This code uses machine-learning algorithms to figure out what's going on in and around the vehicle.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022