Risk
2/8/2013
04:49 PM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Facebook Login Bug: Lessons Learned

Service interruption at dozens of prominent websites including CNN and Hulu reminds that third-party code integration carries risks.

Facebook's 2012 Highs And Lows
Facebook's 2012 Highs And Lows
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Several dozen high-profile websites that allow users to login with Facebook credentials became inaccessible for a short period on Thursday afternoon as a result of a bug in Facebook's code.

Around 4 p.m. Pacific Time, the websites operated by at least 35 companies, including ABC, CNN, Gawker, Hulu, Pinterest, Reddit and Yahoo, began redirecting online visitors to a Facebook error page.

Facebook has acknowledged the problem and says that everything is working again. "For a short period of time, there was a bug that redirected people from third party sites with Facebook Login to Facebook.com," a company spokeswoman said in an email. "The issue was quickly resolved."

Asked about how the bug was introduced and whether the company has taken steps to prevent the issue from recurring, Facebook did not respond.

[ Struggling to connect with customers? Read 5 Social Best Practices From Cisco. ]

Facebook Login, previously referred to as Facebook Connect, is an API that allows developers to provide website visitors and mobile app users with the ability to log in to websites and apps using their Facebook credentials. It relies on a protocol called OAuth 2.0 for authentication and authorization and is implemented in JavaScript for Web applications or via platform-specific SDKs.

Hundreds of millions of people log in to third-party websites every month using Facebook Login. The last time anyone from Facebook provided Login usage statistics appears to be in December 2010, when the figure was 250 million people per month. As of March 2012, nine million websites and apps had integrated Facebook Login, according to the company.

But relying on third-party services such as Facebook Login or Google Analytics presents a risk. Ashkan Soltani, an independent security researcher who previously served as staff technologist at the Federal Trade Commission, warns that too few people appreciate the implications of relying on third-party code.

"The browser model allows execution of code from a variety of different sources," explained Soltani in a phone interview. "When you visit a website like CNN's and they embed a third-party service like Facebook Login, you're effectively executing code served by this third party when you visit the website. That has some interesting security implications."

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
lgarey@techweb.com
50%
50%
lgarey@techweb.com,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/11/2013 | 4:04:36 PM
re: Facebook Login Bug: Lessons Learned
The Mad Libs example is excellent. Is there any indication that this was not just a bug but a hack? Lorna Garey, IW Reports
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-6117
Published: 2014-07-11
Dahua DVR 2.608.0000.0 and 2.608.GV00.0 allows remote attackers to bypass authentication and obtain sensitive information including user credentials, change user passwords, clear log files, and perform other actions via a request to TCP port 37777.

CVE-2014-0174
Published: 2014-07-11
Cumin (aka MRG Management Console), as used in Red Hat Enterprise MRG 2.5, does not include the HTTPOnly flag in a Set-Cookie header for the session cookie, which makes it easier for remote attackers to obtain potentially sensitive information via script access to this cookie.

CVE-2014-3485
Published: 2014-07-11
The REST API in the ovirt-engine in oVirt, as used in Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (rhevm) 3.4, allows remote authenticated users to read arbitrary files and have other unspecified impact via unknown vectors, related to an XML External Entity (XXE) issue.

CVE-2014-3499
Published: 2014-07-11
Docker 1.0.0 uses world-readable and world-writable permissions on the management socket, which allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2014-3503
Published: 2014-07-11
Apache Syncope 1.1.x before 1.1.8 uses weak random values to generate passwords, which makes it easier for remote attackers to guess the password via a brute force attack.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Marilyn Cohodas and her guests look at the evolving nature of the relationship between CIO and CSO.