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Google Warns DoubleClick Customers of XSS Flaws

Google has warned DoubleClick customers that some of the files provided by third-party vendors through its advertising platform can introduce cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities.

Google has warned DoubleClick customers that some of the files provided by third-party vendors through its advertising platform can introduce cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities.

The tech giant has shared a list of more than a dozen advertising firms whose files are vulnerable to XSS attacks. The company has advised website owners and administrators to check if the files are present on their server – they are typically hosted in the root domain – and remove them.

“We have disabled these vendors where possible for all DoubleClick for Publishers and DoubleClick Ad Exchange customers. However, any of the mentioned files hosted on your site may still pose a risk and should be taken down. We will notify you as we learn more,” Google said.

Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) and DoubleClick Ad Exchange advertising services allow customers to display ads outside an iframe, the inline frame used for embedding content within an HTML page. In order to expand ads outside the iframe, Google and third-party ad firms provide what is called an “iframe buster kit,” which includes several HTML and JavaScript files that need to be hosted on the customer’s domain.

Some of these files contain XSS vulnerabilities that allow attackers to execute arbitrary JavaScript code in the context of a user’s browser by getting the victim to click on a specially crafted link.

The issue was brought to light earlier this week by a researcher who uses the online monikers “Zmx” and “Tr4L.” He is an employee of IDM, a company that specializes in solutions for managing, delivering and monetizing content. The firm uses the problematic iframe buster kit, which led to the discovery of the vulnerabilities.

A proof-of-concept (PoC) provided by Zmx shows how these XSS bugs can be triggered:

Zmx told SecurityWeek that he disclosed his findings via the Full Disclosure mailing list on Tuesday without notifying Google “because he is lazy.” It’s unclear if Google’s alert to customers comes in response to the researcher’s post or if it learned about the flaws from other sources. We have reached out to Google for clarifications and will update this article if the company responds.

Zmx also pointed out that there are several other problematic iframe buster kits for expandable ads that may not be provided by Google. The vulnerable kits identified by the researcher and not included in Google’s list come from Undertone, Interpolls and IgnitionOne (

UPDATE. Google has provided the following statement to SecurityWeek:

“We have disabled these vendors, removed these files, and added instructions in our help center to help publishers manage any additional steps to help ensure their users are secure.”

Related: Google Releases New XSS Prevention Tools

Related: Researcher Gets $5,000 for XSS Flaw in Google Apps Admin Console

Related: jQuery Mobile Can Expose Websites to XSS Attacks

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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