Google antiphishing site exposes private user data

Google has removed a few usernames and passwords that it posted inadvertently to a public Web page

Google has removed a few user names and passwords posted inadvertently to a phishing blacklist it compiles and makes publicly available on the Web, the company said Monday.

The log-in information was contained in 15 URLs (uniform resource locators) submitted through Google's Firefox toolbar, which lets users report Web pages they suspect to belong to phishing sites. Most of the URLs on the list didn't have log-in information.

Google said it also has implemented a mechanism that detects when a submitted URL contains log-in data and prevents that information from getting posted to the list.

"We are in the process of notifying the users who inadvertently disclosed this information and suggesting that they reset associated passwords," Google said in an e-mailed statement.

Finjan found the sensitive information on the list and informed Google in early January, the security vendor said Monday.

In addition to user names and passwords, the list also included e-mail addresses and session tokens, putting in jeopardy the users' privacy, Finjan said.

Finjan has posted a snapshot of a portion of the list here containing the offending URLs, albeit with the sensitive information blacked out.

Users of the Firefox toolbar get a chance to review the suspicious URLs they plan to submit to Google, Google said.

More information about the Safe Browsing feature in Firefox can be obtained here. The Safe Browsing feature isn't available in Google's Internet Explorer toolbar.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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