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Overtaking Google Desktop
Feb 21 2007 02:03PM
Yair Amit (yairam_ng watchfire com)
A new research from Watchfire has revealed a serious vulnerability in
The attack, which is fully presented in a new Watchfire research paper
released today (available at
allow a malicious individual to achieve not only remote, persistent
access to sensitive data, but in some cases full system control as well.
Google Desktop is a popular freeware desktop search tool which offers
powerful indexing abilities along with an easy to use interface.
In many cases, Google Desktop manages highly sensitive information.
Therefore, the impact of a security breach in it is far-reaching.
Google Desktop contains several protection mechanisms to secure its
indexed data against remote intruders.
In this paper, we present a step-by-step attack flow that circumvents
Google Desktop's protection mechanisms and allows a malicious attack to
take place against Google Desktop users.
The attack is composed of web-application security flaws found in Google
Desktop along with exploitation of Google Desktop's tight integration
with the Google.com website.
The paper shows that it is possible to achieve a remote and persistent
access to sensitive data on attacked systems.
In addition, under certain conditions, it is also possible to covertly
inject and execute malicious applications on attacked systems, using
Google Desktop's own features.
The full paper can be found in the following link:
A demonstration of the attack flow can be found at the same page or at
the following link:
The Google Desktop security flaw was coordinated with the Google
Google has been responsive and recently issued a patch which mitigates
the risk of the attack.
We highly recommend all Google Desktop users to make sure they have an
updated version installed on their system.
This vulnerability was discovered by me with the cooperation of Danny
Allan and Adi Sharabani.
Watchfire (Israel) Ltd.
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