Too much time on their hands up in the North Woods

R. A. Hettinga rah at
Fri Aug 3 07:19:33 EDT 2001

--- begin forwarded text

Date: Thu, 02 Aug 2001 23:15:54 -0700
From: Paul Harrison <pth at>
Subject: Too much time on their hands up in the North Woods
To: rah at
Reply-to: pth at

The boyz at Dartmouth's PKI Lab have been playing with JavaScript. The
results are troubling in an "E-Qold" kind of way.

By painting over the location and status bars of typical wintel browsers,
and using javascript's pop-up window capability they are able to spoof an
SSL session, without even duping Verisign into giving them a bogus cert.
The effort is painstaking but the results apparently slick. Picks up from
Felton's seminal work (since deprecated).

I like this for Verified by Visa 3-D Secure applications: "Hello, this is
the FleetBankBoston VISA Verifier popup. Please type your password in this
secure window now.....Thank you, and remember, NEVER share your password.
Have a nice day!"

Not discussed, but important to the discerning bad-guy's tool kit is the
"proxy-spoof." This is a webserver which has a home page which looks like,
say, but isn't. For every click you make it runs off to Amazon,
gets the page, replaces all the Amazon links with spoofed links to itself,
then forwards the page on to you. In this fashion, you get theAmazon
experience right on through until you click "Buy" and whip out your credit
card. The attacker has been in charge of your connection for the entire
site visit, but only then does it get smart and start rendering ersatz

--- end forwarded text

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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