By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-10-22 Print this article Print

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 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.
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.
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 Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.

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Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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