The phishing vulnerabilities disclosed this week gained widespread attention, partly because Google has remained out of the security limelight. But the companys search toolbar has appeared on security bulletins before. Late last month, the SecurityTracker.com list reported that the Google Toolbar could be used to execute arbitrary code. Phishing has become a widespread problem for many of largest online services, such as eBay, and online financial service companies as attackers spoof corporate domains to lure consumers to malicious sites that appear legitimate.Ironically, as the major Internet companies gain a foothold on the desktop, they could find themselves under the kind of security spotlight that shines on software makers such as Microsoft Corp., security analysts said. While much of the responsibility for security holes affecting Web sites can be traced to the Web browser, the same is not true for desktop applications, said Dan Hubbard, senior director of security research and technology at Websense Inc., a San Diego-based maker of employee Internet management software. More and more desktop applications, especially those from Web companies, also are connecting to the Web and circumventing traditional firewalls by making use of ports 80 and 443, he said. "Anytime that an application, no matter who creates the applications, has access to port 80 on your machine and access to a Web front end, then this can lead to [security] situations," Hubbard said. "Anytime you write an application that is going to be running on the desktop, you have to secure that application more than a Web services application." Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.
Even Google rival Yahoo, by offering an instant-messaging client, has found itself battling security vulnerabilities. It also appears likely to offer more desktop applications. Earlier this week, for example, it acquired a desktop e-mail client with its purchase of Stata Laboratories Inc.