Phishers could misuse Google Gadgets applications, according to a security researcher.
Google Gadgets are little programs that gather information from the web and can appear on multiple web pages. They are used to give webmasters an easy way to display everything from sports scores to astronomical data on their sites.
Unfortunately, they can also be misused by phishers to get around phishing filters. Attackers could create a phishing site on Google's gmodules.com domain and then send that URL to victims. Because that domain is trusted by phishing filters, victims might then go to the malicious site without being warned by their browser's filtering software.
Security researcher Robert Hansen, a frequent critic of Google, reported the issue to the company's security team, but he was not satisfied with their response. He says Google told him that what he sees as a flaw is simply part of the site's expected behaviour. Google couldn't be reached immediately for comment.
Google should restrict the URLs that can use this domain to avoid helping online criminals, said Hansen, who is CEO of SecTheory. "If they leave it intact, I guarantee you it will be used in an attack."
Such an attack would probably be obvious, however, to a vigilant web surfer, who would know better than to enter banking information on a site hosted on the gmodules.com domain.
There's not much that can be done to prevent phishers from abusing sites like this, if Google wants to let its users create content, said Alex Stamos, a researcher with Isec Partners. "They have to have this throw-away domain to jail modules written by other people," he said via email. "It's not an unreasonable model, and it's the best they can do to host content created by malicious parties while not exposing themselves to attack."