Firefox leaks info useful to attackers

Mozilla's head of security yesterday confirmed a bug in Firefox that could be used by attackers to scout out a system prior to mounting a more thorough assault. The flaw, said Window Snyder, Mozilla Corp.'s chief security officer, is in the browser's chrome protocol, she said in response to reports of the vulnerability and the public posting of a proof-of-concept exploit. "Chrome" is the Firefox term for its user interface. Access to a user's machine would be through one of many Firefox extensions packaged in a flat file structure, rather than collected into a single Java archive, or .jar file, said Snyder. Several popular add-ons, including Download Statusbar and Greasemonkey, use a flat file structure. "Users are only at risk if they have one of the 'flat' packaged add-ons installed," Snyder said on the Mozilla security blog.

By leading users to a tricked-out Web page, criminals could sniff for information that might be useful in more aggressive attacks, Snyder acknowledged. "A visited attacking page is able to load images, scripts or style sheets from known locations on the disk," she said. "Attackers may use this method to detect the presence of files which may give an attacker information about which applications are installed. This information may be used to profile the system for a different kind of attack." Firefox developers are working on a patch, according to a thread on Bugzilla, Mozilla's bug-tracking and management site, but a fix has not yet been coded.

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