Google Chrome Browser Bug Exposes Billions of Users to Data Theft

A vulnerability in Google’s Chromium-based browsers would allow attackers to bypass the Content Security Policy (CSP) on websites, in order to steal data and execute rogue code.

The bug (CVE-2020-6519) is found in Chrome, Opera and Edge, on Windows, Mac and Android – potentially affecting billions of web users, according to PerimeterX cybersecurity researcher Gal Weizman. Chrome versions 73 (March 2019) through 83 are affected (84 was released in July and fixes the issue).

CSP is a web standard that’s meant to thwart certain types of attacks, including cross-site scripting (XSS) and data-injection attacks. CSP allows web admins to specify the domains that a browser should consider to be valid sources of executable scripts. A CSP-compatible browser will then only execute scripts loaded in source files received from those domains.

“CSP is the primary method used by website owners to enforce data-security policies to prevent malicious shadow-code executions on their website, so when browser enforcement can be bypassed, personal user data is at risk,” Weizman explained, in research released on Monday.

Most websites use CSP, the researcher noted, including internet giants like ESPN, Facebook, Gmail, Instagram, TikTok, WhatsApp, Wells Fargo and Zoom. Some notable names were not affected, including GitHub, Google Play Store, LinkedIn, PayPal, Twitter, Yahoo’s Login Page and Yandex.

To exploit the vulnerability, an attacker first needs to gain access to the web server (through brute-forcing passwords or another method), in order to be able to modify the JavaScript code it uses. Then, the attacker could add a frame-src or child-src directive in the JavaScript to allow the injected code to load and execute it, bypassing the CSP enforcement and thus bypassing the site’s policy, explained Weizman.

Because of the post-authentication aspect of the bug, it ranks as a medium-severity issue (6.5 out of 10 on the CvSS scale). However, because it affects CSP enforcement, this has vast implications,” Weizman said, comparing it to having an issue with seatbelts, airbags and collision sensors.

“[Because of the] increased perception of safety, the damage caused in an accident when this equipment is faulty is much more severe,” the researcher said. “In a similar way, website developers may allow third-party scripts to add functionality to their payment page, for example, knowing that CSP will restrict access to sensitive information. So, when CSP is broken, the risk for sites that relied on it is potentially higher than it would have been if the site never had CSP to begin with.”

The vulnerability was present in Chrome browsers for more than a year before being fixed, so Weizman warned that the full implications of the bug are not yet known: “It is highly likely that we will learn of data breaches in the coming months that exploited it and resulted in the exfiltration of personally identifiable information (PII) for nefarious purposes.”

Users should update their browsers to the latest versions to avoid falling victim to an exploit.


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