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'Clickjacking' attack hides behind the mouse

Using a process called "clickjacking," attackers may be able to get you to click on malicious content without you even knowing.

On Tuesday, Adobe issued a workaround for a serious issue that could allow attackers to change the security settings within Flash.

Termed "clickjacking," the process gives "an attacker the ability to trick a user into clicking on something only barely or momentarily noticeable," wrote WhiteHat Security CTO Jeremiah Grossman in a blog posting last month. He went on to say that while "guarding against Clickjacking was largely the browser vendors' responsibility," both he and Robert Hansen agreed to withhold further information and even canceled their talk recently at OWASP NYC AppSec 2008 Conference at the request of Adobe. In return, Adobe thanked the researchers.

In brief, the attack involves embedded objects on a maliciously crafted Web page. Using framed content or that from Flash, Silverlight, or Java, the attacker places a transparent or invisible click button beneath the mouse so that whenever the user clicks on something they see on the page (to see more search results on Google, for example) the user is also clicking to a unseen Web site that may contain malicious code. The attack can also take advantage of dynamic HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) codes to further disguise itself.

In a blog, Guy Aharonovsky describes a process using clickjacking where Flash security settings can be changed to allow an attacker access to a PC's Webcam or microphone. This, he says, could create remote eavesdropping possibilities.

Although the demonstration page created by Aharonovsky has been disabled, his video demonstration shows a rigged click button as it randomly moves around the page. In reality, the click button under the mouse would be transparent or invisible to the user. In the background Aharonovsky shows the attack modifying the Flash privacy settings. Aharonovsky says "bear in mind that every Flash, Java, Silverlight, DHTML game or application can be used to achieve the same thing."

The flaws--there may be a half dozen or so specific vulnerabilities related to this--affect users of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Apple Safari, and Google Chrome. Turning JavaScript off within the browser won't work. The attack doesn't rely on JavaScript. Grossman commented: "Clickjacking is a well-known issue, but severely underappreciated and largely undefended."

Adobe advises users of Flash to set Adobe Flash Player Settings Manager to "always deny." This means that users will not be asked to allow or deny camera and or microphone access after changing this setting. Adobe says a Flash Player update addressing the issue will be available before the end of the month.

Users of Firefox should in the meantime consider use of the NoScript plug-in and set it to forbid iframe content. More details on configuring NoScript to block this attack can be found here

Additional US-CERT tips for securing other browsers can be found here.