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Date: Tue, 11 Aug 2009 17:27:16 -0700
From: "Inferno" <>
To: <>
Subject: Hijacking Safari 4 Top Sites with Phish Bombs

- CVE-ID        : CVE-2009-2196
- Release Date  : August 11, 2009
- Discovered by : Inferno 

Hijacking Safari 4 Top Sites with Phish Bombs

Safari 4 all versions < 4.0.3 
Platforms affected - Mac OS X v10.4.11, Mac OS X Server v10.4.11, Mac OS X
v10.5.7, Mac OS X Server v10.5.7, Windows XP and Vista

Safari is a web browser developed by Apple Inc. It is the default browser in
Mac OS X v10.3 and higher. Safari for the Microsoft Windows platform first
released on 11 June 2007 and currently supports both Windows XP and Windows
Vista. The current stable release of the browser is 4.0.3 for Mac OS X and
Windows. (Source - Wikipedia).

Safari 4 introduced the Top Sites feature to provide an at-a-glance view of
a user's favorite websites. It is the most hyped feature of Safari 4 and
widely used by users to quickly jump to their frequently used sites which
can include their banks, email accounts, shopping sites, etc.

It is possible for a malicious website to place arbitrary sites into your
Top Sites view through automated actions. The attack technique makes use of
javascript windows where in a small window is used to repeatedly browse to
different sites that the attacker wants to add in your Top Sites list. This
window is completely hidden using the window.blur function and user won't
know that is happening in the background. Please note that this attack is
not possible using invisible iframes as Safari does not use iframe urls to
decide Top Sites content. 

Once the attack completes execution, the small window gets closed and the
next time you use Safari Top Sites, it will be have the attacker's defined
sites replace your existing legitimate sites. To make this decision of which
sites to replace with, an attacker can first use the CSS History Hack found
by Jeremiah Grossman[2] and then accordingly set fake sites relative to
those user's visited websites. Hence, this could easily facilitate a serious
phishing attack. The situation is worsened by the Safari's inadequate
protection against URL obfuscation attacks as highlighted in [3], which
makes it almost impossible for a regular user to spot the fake site and
differentiate it from a legitimate one. 

The PoC currently runs in under a minute, which is based on most
conservative input parameter values. 

The two input parameters in this attack are the number of times the fake
website should be visited (n)(default=28) and timeout(t)(default=2 sec) that
triggers a switch between two fake websites. It is very simple and adds two
fake websites for and to your top sites. (it
does not check your browser history, but that is left as an exercise for the
reader :)). Also, you might have to increase the parameter value of 'n' if
you visit your favorite sites very often. 

A real-world hacking scenario would look like:

1. Attacker injects malicious javascript on 
    (a) His or her evil site OR
    (b) On a legitimate site which allows javascript (e.g. bulletin boards,
dashboards, etc).

2. Victim visits the above site.

3. Malicious javascript runs and first checks browser history (using CSS
history hack[2]) from a list of Alexa Top 500.

4. Attacker replaces the user's visited sites with fake phishing sites
(makes legitimate sounding names with url obfuscation).

5. Every time user opens a phishing site and gets a login page, user's
credentials gets stolen. Attacker will present a login error message, asking
user to try again later. At the same time, attacker will reset that phishing
site back to the legitimate page. This way, user will never know what

6. On another note, attacker can always keep atleast 1 or 2 phishing
websites at all times in Top Sites. This will help the attacker to maintain
persistent control of a user's session and every time user visits a new
site, it will be detected by the attacker and will be replaced by a phishing
site in Top Sites.

This issue is addressed by preventing automated website visits from
affecting the Top Sites list. Only websites that are manually entered in the
url address bar are considered to be placed in the Top Sites view. 

Upgrade to Safari 4.0.3

Apple security updates are available via the Software Update mechanism:

Apple security updates are also available for manual download via:

1. Apple Security Updates

2. Jeremiah Grossman's CSS History Hack

3. Phishing with URL Obfuscation continues in Safari 4

This vulnerability is discovered by 
Inferno (inferno {at} securethoughts {dot} com)

May 21, 2009: Vulnerability discovered by Inferno.
May 21, 2009: Apple contacted.
May 21, 2009: Automated response from Apple.
May 26, 2009: First response from Apple Security Team.
Jun 03, 2009: First Status update provided by Apple.
Jun 27, 2009: Second Status update provided by Apple.
Jul 24, 2009: Coordinated public release of Advisory with Apple.
Aug 11, 2009: Software Update and Public Advisory issued by Apple.

Thanks and Regards,
Security Researcher

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