eBay flaw could be used to hijack accounts, researcher says

The auction site hasn't patched the flaw after four days, so the researcher decided to go public

A U.K. based security researcher, Jordan Lee Jones, showed how eBay is vulnerable to a cross-site scripting attack that could potentially be used to hijack user accounts.

A U.K. based security researcher, Jordan Lee Jones, showed how eBay is vulnerable to a cross-site scripting attack that could potentially be used to hijack user accounts.

A security researcher who found a major vulnerability in eBay's website last week said a second flaw he found hasn't been fixed and could be used to hijack user accounts.

Jordan Lee Jones, a 19-year-old college student who lives in Stockton-on-Tees, UK, said he notified eBay on Friday by email of the second vulnerability. It hadn't been fixed as of Monday, so he decided to publish details of it on his blog.

"Ebay should be on top of their stuff," he said in an instant message conversation late Monday. EBay officials couldn't be reached in the USdue to the long holiday weekend.

Jones and several other security researchers have been taking a close look at eBay's network since the company disclosed a data breach last Thursday.

The company said attackers gained log-in credentials for a small number of employees in late February and early March. They eventually stole customer names, encrypted passwords, email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers and birth dates.

Since it disclosed the breach, eBay has been criticised for not alerting customers more clearly and waiting for days to send a mass email advising customers to change their passwords.

The second vulnerability Jones found is a cross-site scripting (XSS) flaw, where code from another source is executed within a website. He said the flaw could be used to grab cookies from logged-in eBay users who visit a page that has been injected with the attack code. The cookie would be emailed to the attacker, Jones said.

A cookie is a small data file stored in a Web browser that remembers certain data, such as if a person has already logged into the website. Cookies can be cleared from a Web browser or expire, but if a valid cookie is obtained by a hacker, it could potentially be used to gain access to a person's account.

The XSS attack code could also be injected into an auction listing page, Jones said, and its payload would affect whomever visits the particular listing.

Jones demonstrated how the XSS flaw could be used on eBay by displaying a pop-up reading "1337," which is hacker lingo for "leet," short for "elite."

Like many companies, eBay requests that security researchers withhold describing their findings publicly until a flaw is fixed, a policy known as "responsible disclosure." EBay's guidelines for researchers warn that "we take the security of our customers very seriously, however some vulnerabilities take longer than others to resolve."

Although companies can appeal to researchers to hold their findings, it's not illegal for researchers to disclose a vulnerability, and many do.

The first vulnerability Jones found allowed him to upload shellcode to eBay's network, which would have allowed him to deface part of the website or download the backend database. EBay took measures to defend against the vulnerability.

EBay thanked Jones for the finding and said it would add his name to a list of security researchers who have assisted the company, according to correspondence he shared with IDG News Service.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securitydata breachebayExploits / vulnerabilities

More about eBayIDG

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Jeremy Kirk

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts