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25 May 2010, 10:21

New phishing attack exploits tabbed browsing

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Aza Raskin, Creative Lead for Mozilla's Firefox, has demonstrated a new phishing attack which exploits tabbed browsing. In the attack, a normal page, with the attack script embedded, is loaded and displays as expected. But, when the user selects another tab or window in their browser, the attack script detects the shift in focus. As the focus changes, it substitutes the favicon and title of the page and and then loads a fake login page into the tab. In Raskin's example with Gmail's icon, title and login page, the user, viewing their tabs, would see a Gmail favicon and title and upon returning to the tab would be faced with what looks like a Gmail login page. The attacker then hopes that the user will assume they have been logged out and need to log back in again.

Raskin suggests a number of ways the attack could be improved, for example by using CSS history mining to present fake pages and favicons that the user might regularly visit, detecting if a user is logged into a service or modifying the presented page to suggest that the user has been timed out by a service. The attack is described by Raskin in a blog posting that includes a safe example of the attack. In the post he suggests that this type of attack could be mitigated by developments such as Firefox Account Manager where the browser takes a more active role in protecting the users identity and credentials.


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