Researcher finds Safari reveals personal information

The AutoFill feature could divulge information to a malicious Web site, but there's an easy fix

A feature in Apple's Safari browser designed to make it easier to fill out forms could by abused by hackers to harvest personal information, according to a security researcher.

Safari's AutoFill feature is enabled by default and will fill in information such as first and last name, work place, city, state, and e-mail address when it recognizes a form, wrote Jeremiah Grossman, CTO for WhiteHat Security, on his blog. The information comes from Safari's local operating system address book.

The feature dumps the data into the form even if a person has entered no data on a particular Web site, which opens up an opportunity for a hacker.

"All a malicious website would have to do to surreptitiously extract Address Book card data from Safari is dynamically create form text fields with the aforementioned names, probably invisibly, and then simulate A-Z keystroke events using JavaScript," Grossman wrote. "When data is populated, that is AutoFill'ed, it can be accessed and sent to the attacker.'

Proof-of-concept code for an attack has been published on the blog of Robert Hansen, CEO of SecTheory. Grossman also posted a video of the attack on his blog.

For some reason, data beginning with numbers won't populate text fields and can't be obtained. "Still, such attacks could be easily and cheaply distributed on a mass scale using an advertising network where likely no one would ever notice because it's not exploit code designed to deliver rootkit payload," Grossman wrote.

"In fact, there is no guarantee this has not already taken place," he wrote. "What is safe to say is that this vulnerability is so brain dead simple that I assumed someone else must have publicly reported it already, but exhaustive searches and asking several colleagues turned up nothing."

Grossman reported the problem to Apple on June 17, but he has yet to receive a personalized reply.

To avoid this issue, users can simply disable AutoFill Web forms, he wrote.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Appleapplicationssecuritydata breachbrowserssoftwaresafaridata protection

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?