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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 23rd year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Yahoo Mail Fail

30 January 2013

Wow, I've never had an of my machines or accounts hacked before - but it had to happen sooner or later.

Yesterday I received an email from a friend who often provides useful links to interesting stuff online.

Given that it was from a trusted source and that it was not unexpected that his email was just a quick note suggesting I visit a webpage, I clicked on the link.

Duh!

I was somewhat confused when I saw that the page he linked to was a bogus news report containing what appeared to be a covert plug for MLM schemes dressed up as a fake page from MSNBC. However, I didn't give it much more thought; it was late and I was tired.

This morning I woke up to find that I had some email bounces and a couple of people had emailed me to say "I think you've been hacked", quoting the same email I'd received from a friend the night before.

Yep, the zero-day YahooMail XSS vulnerability had been exploited to gain access to my YahooMail account.

Unfortunately, although Yahoo did try to patch the vulnerability earlier this month, the problem persists and anyone with a YahooMail account is vulnerable.

Having the most "up to date" browser and security patches won't help you one jot.

Just about the only step you can take to avoid getting hit are to log out of your YahooMail session as soon as you've finished reading/sending email and make sure you don't open any new webpages while a YahooMail session is active.

Of course you could try turning off Javascript -- but then your YahooMail account won't work anyway :-(

So, if anyone has received an email from my YahooMail address suggesting you go look at a website -- delete it!

Sigh... sometimes I long for "the old days" when HTML was just HTML and, although pages were bland and ugly -- at least they were benign.

The mainstream media seem to have been pretty quiet about this one -- which I find odd, since the exploit is becoming widely exploited.

So, just the one column this morning -- because I'm busy making sure that there were no stored emails in my Yahoo account that may have contained information relating to passwords or other data that could compromise my other accounts.

Come on Yahoo... this exploit has apparently been around for months and you still haven't patched it (properly)?

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