Security experts pick holes in new Opera browser

Security flaws in Opera Software ASA's Web browser could put the privacy of Opera users at risk, an Israeli Web application company warned Tuesday.

The company, GreyMagic Software of Jerusalem, known for its disclosure of security bugs in Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer browser, detailed what it says are five new vulnerabilities in Opera 7 for Windows, the Web browser software launched a week ago by Opera of Oslo.

Three of the vulnerabilities allow an attacker to browse a victim's hard disk drive and read any file using a file browser complete with a folder tree and file viewer, GreyMagic said in a statement. The company said the flaws lie in the way Opera handles Javascript and image files and considers the vulnerabilities "critical."

The two other flaws are "severe breaches of privacy" as they can disclose part of the user's browsing history to a malicious Web site operator, GreyMagic said.

Opera was informed by GreyMagic on Friday and plans to release a new version of its browser soon to address the issues, Live Leer, an Opera spokeswoman said.

"We have been working on the issues since Friday and we will release a new version either tonight or tomorrow. We want to rectify the issues as soon as possible," she said.

The flaws are easy to exploit, Lee Dagon, head of research at GreyMagic said.

"An attacker would need minimal knowledge in scripting in order to exploit any of these vulnerabilities," he said. Still, GreyMagic deems Opera a much safer browser than Internet Explorer, even though the latest version of Opera offers expanded support for scripting, which makes it possible for more programming mistakes to occur, Dagon said.

"However, the current impacts of accessing the local computer in Internet Explorer and Opera are very different. Access to the local zone in Internet Explorer gives the attacker almost full control, allowing for execution of arbitrary commands. Opera does not have such features, but it still allows for plenty of mischief," he said.

Opera has only a small share of the Web browser market, which is dominated by Microsoft with a 95.2 percent share, according to Web analytics company OneStat in Amsterdam. Opera 7 achieved a global usage share of 0.03 percent in the first week of its launch, according to OneStat.

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Joris Evers

IDG News Service
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