Risk
7/18/2008
03:51 PM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Picture Leak: O2's Security Through Obscurity Can't Stop Google

Some O2 customers' private photos taken with their mobile phones are publicly accessible online.

Customers of U.K. mobile network operator O2 may believe that photos taken with their mobile phones and sent via MMS to friends are private. But if the recipient's phone isn't capable of receiving MMS data, as is the case with Apple's iPhone 3G, those pictures may be publicly accessible.

O2's security for this scenario is security through obscurity: It makes pictures sent via MMS viewable on non-MMS devices by posting them online with a URL that's difficult to guess.

But thanks to Google, there's no need to guess the URL. It can be found using the inurl: search query operator with mms2legacy as the argument.

The reason for this, explained Ken Simpson, CEO of anti-spam company MailChannels, is that one's Google Toolbar may be configured to pass URLs that one visits to Google for indexing. "If you run Google Toolbar, it knows pages you visit," he said.

As Google explains in its Google Toolbar privacy policy, "Certain optional Toolbar features operate by sending Google the addresses or other information about sites when you visit them. Web History, PageRank, and Safe Browsing in Enhanced Mode all work this way."

The ostensibly private O2 picture-share URLs could probably be guessed even without Google. The code that protects them is a 16-digit hexadecimal number and many people are capable of writing a script to try every code combination.

A spokesperson for O2 wasn't immediately available for comment because it was late Friday evening in the United Kingdom.

Simpson, however, believes that someone at the company is aware of the problem and has been trying to cover it up. He said that someone had posted information about the issue in the online forum for O2 customers and that the post had subsequently vanished.

Another O2 customer, however, has chimed in. "I have reported the case to several agencies in the U.K. -- including the ICO, Ofcom, O2, and my excellent local MP," said someone using the name "duguk." "Hopefully something will be done about this."

Simpson said that while he hadn't come across any overly embarrassing pictures, many of the photos that are exposed show people's children.

In a post on the MailChannels blog, senior software engineer David Cawley notes that, ironically, O2 maintains a Protect Our Children Web site. "Well, a good first step would be to avoid leaking customer photos," he said.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2012-2413
Published: 2014-10-20
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the ja_purity template for Joomla! 1.5.26 and earlier allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the Mod* cookie parameter to html/modules.php.

CVE-2012-5244
Published: 2014-10-20
Multiple SQL injection vulnerabilities in Banana Dance B.2.6 and earlier allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the (1) return, (2) display, (3) table, or (4) search parameter to functions/suggest.php; (5) the id parameter to functions/widgets.php, (6) the category parameter to...

CVE-2012-5694
Published: 2014-10-20
Multiple SQL injection vulnerabilities in Bulb Security Smartphone Pentest Framework (SPF) before 0.1.3 allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the (1) agentPhNo, (2) controlPhNo, (3) agentURLPath, (4) agentControlKey, or (5) platformDD1 parameter to frameworkgui/attach2Agents.p...

CVE-2012-5695
Published: 2014-10-20
Multiple cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities in Bulb Security Smartphone Pentest Framework (SPF) 0.1.2 through 0.1.4 allow remote attackers to hijack the authentication of administrators for requests that conduct (1) shell metacharacter or (2) SQL injection attacks or (3) send an SMS m...

CVE-2012-5696
Published: 2014-10-20
Bulb Security Smartphone Pentest Framework (SPF) before 0.1.3 does not properly restrict access to frameworkgui/config, which allows remote attackers to obtain the plaintext database password via a direct request.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.