eBay Security and the “Punching Bag of the Internet”

Not only has eBay security been undone by their tolerance for what  The Register referred to as “Rubbish Passwords” — now there are reports of multiple Cross Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities on eBay subdomains.

As the 2014 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report chronicled, web applications were the top attack vector for successful data breaches in 2013. The report went so far as to dub web applications “the proverbial punching bag of the Internet.”

At 6Scan we block millions of attempts to exploit vulnerable applications every month. Currently XSS is the 4th most prevalent attack we see. While XSS does not pose an immediate threat like an SQL injection does, the security implications are highlighted in the OWASP.org XSS attack definition:

“An attacker can use XSS to send a malicious script to an unsuspecting user. The end user’s browser has no way to know that the script should not be trusted, and will execute the script. Because it thinks the script came from a trusted source, the malicious script can access any cookies, session tokens, or other sensitive information retained by the browser and used with that site. These scripts can even rewrite the content of the HTML page.”

The significance of the attack is not only in access to the vulnerable application, but malicious access to the trusted relationship between user and a given site (like eBay).  We recently wrote about an NFL team with an active XSS vulnerability -it’s in these situations with powerful brands that XSS vulnerabilities can do the most damage. So while eBay chose to downplay the vulnerability with the comment that it’s “not a new type of web application vulnerability on sites such as eBay,” the reality is that the severity of the threat is directly related to the trust of the brand.

Stay safe.