Google Video Security Flaw: FALSE; MySpace Flaw: Confirmed

Tamar Weinberg writes a post declaring that “Google Video Flaw Raises Privacy Concerns By Exposing Usernames and Passwords“.

Nice linkbait, but completely false. The real weight of this flaw lies solely on MySpace (I know, there are apparently no security issues with MySpace, but I digress). In fact, if you examine the headers of a MySpace login, it is obvious to see that MySpace itself is transmitting username and password in plaintext in the headers.

Most people don’t look at headers. Why should they? They are the communication vehicles of browsers and server and not users. However, an examination of these headers by sleuthful individuals can find out all kinds of useful information.

Let’s look at the MySpace header that contains the username and password:


POST /index.cfm?fuseaction=login.process&MyToken=c7fd399e-2c28-4615-889e-dbf5c2cea71b HTTP/1.1
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X; en-US; rv: Gecko/20070515 Firefox/
Accept: text/xml,application/xml,application/xhtml+xml,text/html;q=0.9,text/plain;q=0.8,image/png,*/*;q=0.5
Accept-Language: en-us,en;q=0.5
Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate
Accept-Charset: ISO-8859-1,utf-8;q=0.7,*;q=0.7
Keep-Alive: 300
Connection: keep-alive
Cookie: MSCulture=IP=; NGUserID=a2825a9-4920-1181671731-2
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
Content-Length: 165

The interesting part is right at the bottom where, if you look, my (now fake) username and password are displayed.

Update: To be fair, Facebook is guilty as charged as well.

Update 2: As does many other pieces of software. This highlights a deficiency in the HTTP protocol. HTML Password fields should be encrypted before transmission. Why is this not the case? What good reason can anyone give me why this should not have been fixed in, oh, 1996?

Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

5 thoughts on “Google Video Security Flaw: FALSE; MySpace Flaw: Confirmed

  1. You’re mixing up HTML forms and HTTP protocol. There are secure ways of transmitting passwords over HTTP (or, more correctly, HTTPS), but in the body of a form is not one of them.

  2. I would have thought they encrypted the passwords. That’s what I do by default on all my own apps, so that the server ever knows the actual password.

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