McAfee's website full of security holes, researcher says

In addition to cross-site scripting, YGN discovered numerous information disclosure holes with the site including seeing an internal hostname and finding 18 source code disclosures

The McAfee.com website is full of security mistakes that could lead to cross-site scripting and other attacks, researchers said in a post on the Full Disclosure site on Monday. The holes with the site were found by the YGN Ethical Hacker Group, and reported to McAfee on Feb. 10, YGN says, before they were publicly disclosed to the security/hacking mailing list.

MORE HACKS: Microsoft warns of hack attempt on Windows Live, Google, Yahoo, Skype, Mozilla

In addition to cross-site scripting, YGN discovered numerous information disclosure holes with the site including seeing an internal hostname and finding 18 source code disclosures. The portion of the site that could be used for XC scripting attack hosts some of McAfee's files for downloading software, YGN says on its Full Disclosure post.

This isn't just embarrassing, but also somewhat discrediting for McAfee, which markets a McAfee Secure service to enterprises for their customer-facing websites. McAfee Secure scans a website daily for "thousands of hacker vulnerabilities," the company advertises. If the site is found to "be certified" to McAfee's "high standard of security," then users of McAfee anti-malware products see a "McAfee Secure" label in their browsers. McAfee Secure claims to test for personal information access, links to dangerous sites, phishing, and other embedded malicious dangers that a website might unknowingly be hosting.

"In other words, the presence of this label means that the website is not vulnerable to the exact same vulnerabilities [McAfee.com] currently has," writes security researcher Pablo Ximenes, from the Information Security Research Team of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, in his blog. "Don't get me wrong, I have no interest in damaging McAfee's image, I even own a company that sells McAfee products, but this is a serious lack of diligence with customers and resellers that must not go unnoticed," he writes.

According to YGN, after reporting the flaws on the McAfee website to the vendor on Feb. 10, McAfee responded to the report on Feb. 12, saying, "We are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible." When, as of March 27, YGN found the flaws "to be unfixed completely," YGN publicly disclosed them. YGN offered two tongue-in-cheek recommendations to McAfee for addressing the issues: that the company should make better use of its own internal website security experts from Foundstone, a Web security services company McAfee acquired in 2004, and that the company should "use outbound monitoring of traffic to detect potential information leakage."

This is not the first time that McAfee's website was found to be lacking security. In 2008, websites from McAfee, Symantec and VeriSign were all found to have cross-site scripting (XSS) errors, according to security watchdog at the time XSSed.

Additionally, in 2009, white-hat hacker Methodman, a member of the Team Elite, published proof-of-concept attacks against websites kc.mcafee.com and mcafeerebates.com. In April 2010, the McAfee.com community forums were defaced via an XC scripting attack.

McAfee told Network World that it is investigating the Full Disclosure vulnerabilities report.

Bort writes the Microsoft Update, Source Seeker and Cisco Odds and Ends blogs for Network World's Microsoft Subnet, Open Source Subnet and Cisco Subnet communities. Follow Bort on Twitter @Julie188.

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Julie Bort

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