Google search device flaw leaves sites open to phishing attacks

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Google search device flaw leaves sites open to phishing attacks

Hackers and security experts made public a vulnerability in Google's search appliances that is leaving hundreds of major organisations such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Stanford University and the National Hockey League open to phishing attacks.

The flaw exposes websites that use Google Search Appliance and Google Mini devices. It is a cross-site scripting (XSS) error in the systems' Unicode Transformation Format (UTF) character encoding that makes it possible for hackers to create malicious links that appear to point to trusted sites.

First discovered on a hacker website and reported by an anonymous researcher known as Maluc, the flaw makes it easy to create believable and large-scale phishing attacks.

John Herron, who runs, reported the problem to US-CERT (U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team), which informed Google of the problem.

Google reported that it released a fix on Monday, but only a handful of those affected have used the workaround. Organisations that use either appliance are highly encouraged to contact Google if they have not yet heard from the company.

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