The CloudBleed bug could have leaked secrets from major web companies, like Uber and OKCupid, Google researchers claim.
A Google researcher has uncovered what may be the most worrying web leak of 2017 so far, possibly exposing passwords, private messages and other sensitive data from a vast number of sites, including major services like Uber, FitBit and OKCupid.
It’s being dubbed CloudLeak by some, as the problem was caused by a vulnerability in code from a hugely popular web company, CloudFlare, and was not dissimilar to the infamous Heartbleed bug of 2015 (though possibly more severe in terms of the potential for data leakage). It’s similar to Heartbleed in that CloudFlare, which hosts and serves content for a at least 2 million websites, was returning random chunks of memory from vulnerable servers when requests came in.
Making the issue even more severe was the fact that search engines were caching that leaked information. Another major concern was that CloudFlare typically hosts content from different sites on the same server, so a request to one vulnerable website could reveal information about a separate, unrelated CloudFlare site.
“For example, you could have visited a page on uber.com, and a chunk of memory from a previous request/response to okcupid.com would be returned,” explained Pen Test Partners whitehat hacker Andrew Tierney. “This sensitive data could have been returned to anyone. There was no need to carry out an active attack to obtain the data – my mum may have someone else’s passwords stored in her browser cache just by visiting another CloudFlare fronted site.”
Famous Google bug hunter Tavis Ormandy uncovered the issue, describing it in a brief post, noting that he informed CloudFlare of the problem on February 17. In his own proof-of-concept attack he was able to have the server return encryption keys, passwords and even HTTPS requests of other users from major CloudFlare-hosted sites.
Cloudflare have been leaking customer HTTPS sessions for months. Uber, 1Password, FitBit, OKCupid, etc. https://t.co/wjwE4M3Pbk
— Tavis Ormandy (@taviso) February 23, 2017
In a later post, he found the issue to be even more severe: “I’m finding private messages from major dating sites, full messages from a well-known chat service, online password manager data, frames from adult video sites, hotel bookings. We’re talking full HTTPS requests, client IP addresses, full responses, cookies, passwords, keys, data, everything.”
Ormandy wrote that CloudFlare sent him a draft post that “severely downplays the risk to customers,” though he didn’t say what he thought about the final public notification that went out Thursday. In that post, CloudFlare wrote: “The bug was serious because the leaked memory could contain private information and because it had been cached by search engines. We have also not discovered any evidence of malicious exploits of the bug or other reports of its existence.
“The greatest period of impact was from February 13 and February 18 with around 1 in every 3,300,000 HTTP requests through CloudFlare potentially resulting in memory leakage (that’s about 0.00003 per cent of requests).” It admitted that the earliest date memory could have leaked was September 22 2016. CloudFlare also said one of its own private keys leaked, one for internal machine-to-machine encryption.
A large list of CloudFlare websites has been uploaded to GitHub, though it’s not clear just which ones leaked any data (another list found a handful of affected domains). The user who posted the Github list still recommended users of all those sites change their passwords as a precaution. Security entrepreneur Ryan Lackey recommended the same, though noted it was unlikely the average web user’s password was in danger of being stolen.
What’s the bug?
The problem lay in the way CloudFlare parsed and modified web pages when a user hit the site. When certain data was sent to the server, it would fail to parse the information properly and cough up sections of memory, jumping over the “buffer” designed to keep secret info secure. That memory might have contained sensitive data, like passwords or private communications.
Ormandy found the issue by firing a load of junk data at CloudFlare servers, a process called “fuzzing.” In some cases, he received responses that contained information from memory. He could then easily replicate the process to guarantee that sensitive information would be returned.
CloudFlare, Google and other search engine providers have been scouring the web looking for sites that may have leaked information via the CloudBleed bug. They found 161 unique domains, and the leaked memory has now been purged from all of them. “We also undertook other search expeditions looking for potentially leaked information on sites like Pastebin and did not find anything,” CloudFlare added.
Regardless of that cleanup and the continuing efforts of CloudFlare to remove the bug from its customers’ servers, Google security researchers like Natalie Silvanovich believe the ultimate impact might be severe.
tl;dr there’s no guarantee that private message you sent on OkCupid isn’t on the public internet somewhere https://t.co/eZrb85l9ub
— Natalie Silvanovich (@natashenka) February 23, 2017
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