TUCoPS :: Browsers :: ciach076.txt

Netscape Navigator Security Bug


[   For Public Release   ]

                       The U.S. Department of Energy
                    Computer Incident Advisory Capability
                           ___  __ __    _     ___
                          /       |     /_\   /
                          \___  __|__  /   \  \___

                             INFORMATION BULLETIN

                   Netscape Navigator Security Vulnerability

June 26, 1997 17:00 GMT                                            Number H-76
PROBLEM:       A problem has been identified in the Netscape Navigator.
PLATFORM:      All platforms running Netscape Navigator 2.0, 3.0, and
               Communicator 4.0.
DAMAGE:        This vulnerability may allow a Web site operator to retrieve
               known files from the hard disks of visiting users by mimicking
               the submission of a form.
SOLUTION:      Apply the workaround or the appropriate patch provided below.
VULNERABILITY  The exploit is not currently available but knownledge of this
ASSESSMENT:    vulnerability has been highly publicized by the media.


Recently, the Internet community was made aware of a bug in the Netscape
Navigator. Netscape engineers were able to recreated the bug in Netscape
Communicator and Navigator 2.0 and 3.0.

Known as the privacy bug, it may allow a Web site operator to retrieve known
files from the hard disks of visiting users by mimicking the submission of a
form. Under ordinary circumstances, users browsing on known, trusted sites
are not at risk. However, if a user visits an unknown, untrusted site, the
operator of that site could potentially retrieve files from a user's hard disk
through an obscure series of steps. To access a file on the hard drive the
Web site operator would need to know the exact name and location of the file.
Even though the bug has been highly publicized, this factor in itself limits
the possibility of this vulnerability being exploited.

Netscape released the following statement: "The execution of this attack
requires specific knowledge of the user's machine to cause harm and so is
unlikely to be reproduced. Because this specific bug has existed for more
than a year and a half since Navigator 2.0 -- and Netscape has never had a
report about this bug or any loss based on this bug -- we believe the risk
to users from this bug is relatively low." 

CIAC recommends that you apply the workarounds or the appropriate patch
provided below.     


To remove any risk of this bug, Navigator users should download
the updated version of Communicator or Navigator, that includes the fix.
In the interim, users of Navigator 3.0 and Communicator 4.0 can take the
following steps to enable warning dialog boxes to detect and cancel form

   In Navigator 3.0: Go to the Options menu and select Security
                     Preferences. Select the "Submitting a Form
                     Insecurely" preference to enable that warning
                     dialog box.

   In Navigator 4.0: Select the lock in the toolbar to open the
                     Security Advisor. Select Navigator, then select
                     the "Sending Unencrypted Information to a Site"
                     preference to enable that warning dialog box.

Patches or Upgrades
   Communicator 4.01 for Windows (includes the fix for privacy bug)

   Navigator 3.0
      Fix pending per Netscape


CIAC wishes to acknowledge the contributions of Netscape for the
information contained in this bulletin.

CIAC, the Computer Incident Advisory Capability, is the computer
security incident response team for the U.S. Department of Energy
(DOE) and the emergency backup response team for the National
Institutes of Health (NIH). CIAC is located at the Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory in Livermore, California. CIAC is also a founding
member of FIRST, the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams, a
global organization established to foster cooperation and coordination
among computer security teams worldwide.

CIAC services are available to DOE, DOE contractors, and the NIH. CIAC
can be contacted at:
    Voice:    +1 510-422-8193
    FAX:      +1 510-423-8002
    STU-III:  +1 510-423-2604
    E-mail:   ciac@llnl.gov

For emergencies and off-hour assistance, DOE, DOE contractor sites,
and the NIH may contact CIAC 24-hours a day. During off hours (5PM -
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or call 800-759-7243 (800-SKY-PAGE) to send a Sky Page. CIAC has two
Sky Page PIN numbers, the primary PIN number, 8550070, is for the CIAC
duty person, and the secondary PIN number, 8550074 is for the CIAC
Project Leader.

Previous CIAC notices, anti-virus software, and other information are
available from the CIAC Computer Security Archive.

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This document was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an
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Government nor the University of California nor any of their
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