Sealed with an XSS: IT pros urge Lloyds Group to avoid web cross talk

Online login details could be harvested by miscreants – bank says: We're secure


A pair of IT workers have criticised banks within the Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) for substandard security. The group denies anything is amiss, maintaining it follows industry best practice on cyber-security.

Each of the three LBG banks – Lloyds, Halifax, and Bank of Scotland – has implemented transport layer security by running https so that transactions run to a secure server. But the three financial institutions are nonetheless vulnerable to a common class of web security vulnerability often exploited by phishing fraudsters: cross-site scripting (XSS) flaws.

A software developer and an infosec researcher have separately said that websites maintained by Lloyds, Halifax, and Bank of Scotland all have an XSS vuln, allowing attackers to potentially read and modify the contents of the login form, as well as subsequent pages such as account information in secure banking sessions.

The issue at the three Lloyds Banking Group subsidiaries were uncovered by software developer Jim Ley and reported to each bank. A lack of response prompted him to approach The Register.

Ley developed a live proof-of-concept, seen by The Reg, for each bank showing how the unresolved web flaws could be leveraged to run login-harvesting phishing attacks.

This illustrates the risk that, unless the flaw is resolved, convincing phishing scams that leverage the web security shortcoming might be developed, he warned.

Independent security researcher Paul Moore confirmed our tipster's warning, adding that Halifax Bank is vulnerable to a somewhat related problem.

"[Halifax Bank's] lack of adequate security headers allows the injection of malicious scripts to both collect and alter anything the user enters, regardless of TLS," Moore told El Reg.

"Banks should deploy the correct security headers before third party dependencies go rogue… many sites are vulnerable if they don't deploy security headers correctly,” he added.

Halifax security header rating needs some improvement

Halifax Bank's security header rating scores a B

Halifax Bank rates a "B" on Scot Helme's Security Headers benchmark, which may on the surface seem like a passing grade but belies the problem. The devil lies in the detail, according to Moore.

“A ‘B’ isn't bad, but the difference between an ‘A’ and ‘B’ here is the existence of a CSP [Content Security Policy]1 header. If they disallowed inline scripts, they'd get an ‘A’ and wouldn't be vulnerable to this attack,” Moore said.

Moore's (benign) proof-of-concept demo from Halifax Bank can be found here, which he flagged up to the infosec community through Twitter.

El Reg relayed these criticisms to reps at LBG, alongside a request for comment. The bank said it welcomed the reports while downplaying their significance:

We employ multi-layered security controls across our systems. We take responsible disclosures seriously and always follow up to ensure that the best methods are followed.

Both techies were unimpressed with this reply. Each independently stated they had found it difficult to report problems to LBG. "If they made the reporting process easier, I'd be happier," Moore commented.

The Reg has seen an email from LBG’s digital security team to Moore stating they were “aware of this issue”, adding that its techies “are already working on it”. ®

Bootnote

1Content Security Policy is a security technology designed in large part to minimise XSS problems.

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • 381,000-plus Kubernetes API servers 'exposed to internet'
    Firewall isn't a made-up word from the Hackers movie, people

    A large number of servers running the Kubernetes API have been left exposed to the internet, which is not great: they're potentially vulnerable to abuse.

    Nonprofit security organization The Shadowserver Foundation recently scanned 454,729 systems hosting the popular open-source platform for managing and orchestrating containers, finding that more than 381,645 – or about 84 percent – are accessible via the internet to varying degrees thus providing a cracked door into a corporate network.

    "While this does not mean that these instances are fully open or vulnerable to an attack, it is likely that this level of access was not intended and these instances are an unnecessarily exposed attack surface," Shadowserver's team stressed in a write-up. "They also allow for information leakage on version and build."

    Continue reading
  • A peek into Gigabyte's GPU Arm for AI, HPC shops
    High-performance platform choices are going beyond the ubiquitous x86 standard

    Arm-based servers continue to gain momentum with Gigabyte Technology introducing a system based on Ampere's Altra processors paired with Nvidia A100 GPUs, aimed at demanding workloads such as AI training and high-performance compute (HPC) applications.

    The G492-PD0 runs either an Ampere Altra or Altra Max processor, the latter delivering 128 64-bit cores that are compatible with the Armv8.2 architecture.

    It supports 16 DDR4 DIMM slots, which would be enough space for up to 4TB of memory if all slots were filled with 256GB memory modules. The chassis also has space for no fewer than eight Nvidia A100 GPUs, which would make for a costly but very powerful system for those workloads that benefit from GPU acceleration.

    Continue reading
  • GitLab version 15 goes big on visibility and observability
    GitOps fans can take a spin on the free tier for pull-based deployment

    One-stop DevOps shop GitLab has announced version 15 of its platform, hot on the heels of pull-based GitOps turning up on the platform's free tier.

    Version 15.0 marks the arrival of GitLab's next major iteration and attention this time around has turned to visibility and observability – hardly surprising considering the acquisition of OpsTrace as 2021 drew to a close, as well as workflow automation, security and compliance.

    GitLab puts out monthly releases –  hitting 15.1 on June 22 –  and we spoke to the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, about what will be added to version 15 as time goes by. During a chat with the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, The Register was told that this was more where dollars were being invested into the product.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022