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Address Bar Spoofing Bugs Found in Safari, Chrome for Android

Researchers have discovered address bar spoofing vulnerabilities in the Safari and Google Chrome for Android web browsers. Cybercriminals can exploit the bugs in phishing attacks.

Researchers have discovered address bar spoofing vulnerabilities in the Safari and Google Chrome for Android web browsers. Cybercriminals can exploit the bugs in phishing attacks.

The flaw affecting Apple’s Safari was identified by researchers at UK-based security firm Deusen. The bug, for which experts created a simple proof-of-concept (PoC) webpage, affects the latest version of Safari on both OS X and iOS.

The PoC from Deusen displays the URL “” in the browser’s address bar for a webpage hosted on This spoofing vulnerability can be very useful for phishing attacks.

“The [PoC] code is very simple: webpage reloads every 10 milliseconds using the setInterval() function, just before the browser can get the real page and so the user sees the ‘real’ web address instead of the fake one,” explained Manuel Humberto Santander Peláez, handler at the SANS Internet Storm Center.

This isn’t the first web browser vulnerability disclosed by Deusen. In February, the company published a PoC exploit for a universal cross-site scripting (UXSS) flaw in Internet Explorer that can be leveraged to completely bypass the Same Origin Policy (SOP).

The address bar spoofing vulnerability in the stock Chrome browser on Android was discovered by Pakistani security researcher Rafay Baloch. The expert collaborated with Rapid7 on developing a reliable PoC and reporting the issue to Google.

“Due to a problem in handling 204 ‘No Content’ responses combined with a event, an attacker can cause the stock Chrome browser on Android to render HTML pages in a misleading context,” explained Rapid7 Engineering Manager Tod Beardsley. “This effect was confirmed on an Android device running Lollipop (5.0). An attacker could use this vulnerability to convince a victim of a phishing e-mail, text, or link to enter private credentials to an untrusted page controlled by the attacker.”

The PoC created by Baloch shows that a malicious actor can host a Google phishing webpage on his own domain and make it look like it’s hosted on

The vulnerability was first reported to the Android security team on February 9 by Baloch. The issue was again brought to the attention of the Android security team and CERT/CC by Rapid7 on April 3. Google reported releasing patches for Android Lollipop (5.0.x) on April 7, and for Android KitKat (4.4.x) on April 30.

Users are advised to apply the updates that fix this vulnerability, if they are available from their carrier.

“In the event that patches are unavailable for a particular handset or carrier, users are advised to avoid using the Chrome browser to perform authentication, especially when following links from untrusted or unverifiable sources until patches are available,” Beardsley said.

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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