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Internet Explorer URL Spoofing Vulnerability

By Dan Hadaway | Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - Leave a Comment

An issue in Internet explorer will allow an attacker to take you to a page in your browser but the real URL will not show in the address bar. This also affects SSL – you will NOT be notified the SSL cert does not match the fake URL.

This might seem a trivial issue but the uses for the attacker are significant. For example, if an attacker sends you a URL to follow in the form of a forged email from your online bank, but the URL goes to their server rather than your bank. They could disguise this forgery, if you look at the address bar you’ll have no way of knowing you’re not really at your bank’s page.

The root issue in this bug is that you cannot trust where you think you may be in Internet Explorer. Whether you’re on your bank’s website or a Korean hacker’s, you’ll never know. There are many more ways this could be of use to an attacker, especially in conjunction with a number of other issues that remain unresolved.

As of this time there isn’t a patch or fix. The only real defense is to not use IE. Mozilla, Konqueror, and Opera are viable alternatives.

I’m trying my best not to be an IE basher, but it’s really hard not to…

Original disclosure:

Critical: Moderately critical
Impact: ID Spoofing
Where: From remote

Software: Microsoft Internet Explorer 6

Description:
A vulnerability has been identified in Internet Explorer, which can be exploited by malicious people to display a fake URL in the address bar.

The vulnerability is caused due to an input validation error, which can be exploited by including the \”%01\” URL encoded representation after the username and right before the \”@\” character in an URL.

Successful exploitation allows a malicious person to display an arbitrary FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name) in the address bar, which is different from the actual location of the page.

This can be exploited to trick users into divulging sensitive information or download and execute malware on their systems, because they trust the faked domain in the address bar.

Example displaying only “http://www.trusted_site.com\” in the address bar when the real domain is \”malicious_site.com\”:
http:[email protected]_site.com/malicious.html

The vulnerability has been confirmed in version 6.0. However, prior versions may also be affected.

Solution:
Filter malicious characters and character sequences in a proxy server or firewall with URL filtering capabilities.

Don’t follow links from untrusted sources.

Posted in Vulnerability News

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