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RSS, Atom Newsfeeds expose Bloggers to Hack Attack

Hack Attack!What next? CNET reports:

Attackers could insert malicious JavaScript in content that is transferred to subscribers of data feeds that use the popular RSS (Really Simple Syndication) or Atom formats, Bob Auger, a security engineer with Web security company SPI Dynamics, said Thursday in a presentation at the Black Hat security event here.

The problem doesn’t affect only blogs–any kind of information feed using any kind of format could potentially be used to transmit malicious content to a subscriber, Auger said. People, for example, subscribe to mailing lists and news Web sites via RSS, he said, noting “this is about the entire concept of Web feeds.”

Crikey! Maybe its time to chuck the javascript. But with the recent popularity of ajax that probably won’t be happening within my lifetime.

You can of course turn off scripts in your browser, but then you would miss out on a lot of cool features blogs are designed for. So I don’t recommend that (except for the completely paranoid).

Perhaps the real problem is your favorite newsreader (aggregator):

Many of the popular feed reading applications are faulted because the designers have failed to add valuable security checks, Auger said. In particular, the applications should not allow JavaScript that is included in feeds to run. Instead, it should be filtered out, he said.

Additionally, some reader software on Windows systems uses Internet Explorer to display feed content, but doesn’t use basic security settings that isolate the content. Instead, the JavaScript is downloaded to the PC and has full access, which can fully expose a person’s PC, Auger said.

“A large percentage of the readers I tested had some kind of an issue,” he said. In his presentation, Auger listed Bloglines, RSS Reader, RSS Owl, Feed Demon, and Sharp Reader as vulnerable.

As protection, people could switch to a nonvulnerable reader. Also, feed publishers could ensure that their feeds don’t include malicious JavaScript or any script at all, Auger said. Some services, however, rely on JavaScript to deliver ads in feeds, he noted.

Are you listening Nick Bradbury?

I can say without any hesitation that your friendly Blog Bloke’s newsfeeds run no scripts, are sanitized and completely bug-free. All the more reason why you should sign up. Via CNET.

Related links: blog bloke, instabloke, blog, weblog, blogging, blog tools, web 2.0, internet, computers and internet, technology, tech, software, newsfeed, rss, ajax, security
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  • Written August 4th, 2006 by | 1 Comment | Filed under: Blog Tips , , ,

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