Google this week announced that it is going to block login attempts from embedded browser frameworks to prevent man-in-the-middle (MiTM) phishing attacks.
Phishing attacks carried out by injecting malicious content in legitimate traffic are difficult to detect when attackers use an embedded browser framework or any other automated tool for authentication.
For example, the embedded browser framework Google offers Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) that allows embedding Chromium-based browsers in other applications.
Google announced that starting from June, it will block sign-ins from these frameworks.
“However, one form of phishing, known as “man in the middle” (MITM), is hard to detect when an embedded browser framework (e.g., Chromium Embedded Framework – CEF) or another automation platform is being used for authentication. MITM intercepts the communications between a user and Google in real-time to gather the user’s credentials (including the second factor in some cases) and sign in.” reads a blog postpublished by Google. “Because we can’t differentiate between a legitimate sign in and a MITM attack on these platforms, we will be blocking sign-ins from embedded browser frameworks starting in June. This is similar to the restriction on webview sign-ins announced in April 2016.”
Google suggests developers currently using CEF for authentication to switch to the browser-based OAuth authentication.
The browser-based OAuth authentication also allows users to see the full URL of the page where they are entering their credentials, this could help them to avoid phishing websites mimicking legit ones.
“The solution for developers currently using CEF for authentication is the same: browser-based OAuth authentication. Aside from being secure, it also enables users to see the full URL of the page where they are entering their credentials, reinforcing good anti-phishing practices,” continues Google.
“If you are a developer with an app that requires access to Google Account data, switch to using browser-based OAuth authentication today.”
Pierluigi Paganini is member of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group and Cyber G7 Group, he is also a Security Evangelist, Security Analyst and Freelance Writer.
Editor-in-Chief at "Cyber Defense Magazine", Pierluigi is a cyber security expert with over 20 years experience in the field, he is Certified Ethical Hacker at EC Council in London. The passion for writing and a strong belief that security is founded on sharing and awareness led Pierluigi to find the security blog "Security Affairs" recently named a Top National Security Resource for US.
Pierluigi is a member of the "The Hacker News" team and he is a writer for some major publications in the field such as Cyber War Zone, ICTTF, Infosec Island, Infosec Institute, The Hacker News Magazine and for many other Security magazines.
Author of the Books "The Deep Dark Web" and “Digital Virtual Currency and Bitcoin”.