RE: Overtaking Google Desktop Feb 22 2007 09:42AM
Yair Amit (yairam_ng watchfire com)
In November of 2005, Matan Gillon discovered a vulnerability in Internet
Explorer in the way it handled the CSS import directive
( He proved the
danger of the IE vulnerability by attacking Google Desktop.

This proof of concept proved a powerful demonstration of the browser
exploit and was successful for the same reason that our research into
Google Desktop's security was successful - because a link is maintained
between the public web site and the local web server. If Google had
disabled this link, or given the user the option to remove the link,
they would not have been vulnerable. Matan Gillon should receive credit
for recognizing the danger of this intersection.

We firmly believe that the integration between public web server and the
local web server is a very dangerous thing. While Google have put a
band-aid on the immediate issue, it becomes a matter of time before
another vector of exploit (either through the browser or web
application) allows similar access.

Best regards,
Yair Amit
Security Team
Watchfire (Israel) Ltd.

-----Original Message-----
From: Yair Amit [mailto:yairam_ng (at) watchfire (dot) com [email concealed]]
Sent: Wednesday, February 21, 2007 4:03 PM
To: bugtraq (at) securityfocus (dot) com [email concealed]
Subject: Overtaking Google Desktop


A new research from Watchfire has revealed a serious vulnerability in
Google Desktop.

The attack, which is fully presented in a new Watchfire research paper
released today (available at, can
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 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
Security Team.
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.

Best regards,
Yair Amit
Security Team
Watchfire (Israel) Ltd.

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