Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Is your flashy school website safe?

Date:
July 5, 2010
Source:
Inderscience Publishers
Summary:
Most educational websites in the US are using Flash applications that fail to adequately secure these pages. This is a growing problem for the Internet as vulnerable sites can be hijacked for malicious and criminal activity, according to a new paper by an expert in digital forensics.

Most educational websites in the U.S. are using Flash applications that fail to adequately secure these pages. This is a growing problem for the Internet as vulnerable sites can be hijacked for malicious and criminal activity, according to a paper published in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics this month.

Related Articles


Joanne Kuzma, Colin Price and Richard Henson of the Business School, University of Worcester, England, have used a simple tool provided by Hewlett Packard (HP), known as SwfScan, to analyze academic websites across the U.S. for security holes in their Flash applications.

Adobe Flash is a proprietary multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to countless web pages. It is widely used by sites like Google Youtube and by gaming sites and in advertisements. It has also been positioned as a tool for "Rich Internet Applications." However, although provider Adobe releases regular security patches to address problems as they arise, many sites are not kept up to date and so remain vulnerable. Companies such as Apple, refuse to allow Flash to run on their consumer devices for this very reason.

Kuzma and colleagues point out that it is impossible to make any web application 100% secure, but that academic institutions must implement new policies better secure their sites and to protect their users. In 2008, HP used its SwfScan tool to audit 4,000 Flash applications across the web and found 250 Flash applications that had a login form in which usernames or passwords are hard-coded into the application. Older versions of Flash are rife and more than a third of Flash applications violated Adobe's security recommendations.

The team has now used SwfScan to scan 250 educational websites, with worrying results. "Education sites are increasing the number of their Flash-based pages and applications, especially due to the growth of online learning," the team says, "Yet almost all pages showed at least low-level security vulnerabilities and over 20% of them had medium-level security issues where personal information could be disclosed to attackers." Six of the sites scanned (2.4%) showed critical vulnerabilities. Just two sites had no reported Flash vulnerabilities.

Well-publicized data breaches at Florida and Ohio universities led to the names and social security numbers of hundreds of thousands of students being exposed, which not only affected security for those individuals but led to such negative publicity that Ohio, at least, saw a significant decline in monetary donations. But, there are a variety of technical, legal and procedural methods that institutions could effectively implement to provide a better level of user protection, the team adds.

A serious problem in university security is that professors, colleges, departments and even student organizations regularly create and maintain separate shadow systems. So even if the university does have secure core applications and specific security policies, these shadow systems could open up security vulnerabilities. Moreover, academic departments often operate their own servers that bypass the institution's IT department. "A staff member could create a separate Flash application to collect miscellaneous user information and this application could be developed with minimal thought to security, or could bypass corporate security policies and development procedures," the team explains. "Those staff may be unaware of legal regulations that apply to the industry."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Inderscience Publishers. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Joanne Kuzma, Colin Price and Richard Henson. Flash vulnerabilities analysis of US educational websites. Int. J. Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, 2010; 3: 95-107

Cite This Page:

Inderscience Publishers. "Is your flashy school website safe?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100702100142.htm>.
Inderscience Publishers. (2010, July 5). Is your flashy school website safe?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100702100142.htm
Inderscience Publishers. "Is your flashy school website safe?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100702100142.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Police Swoop on 80 Airports in Global Ticket Fraud Crackdown

Police Swoop on 80 Airports in Global Ticket Fraud Crackdown

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) Police have arrested 118 people in an unprecedented globally-coordinated swoop on plane ticket credit card fraud, a billion-dollar organised crime industry, officials said Friday. Duration: 01:03 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
EU Pushes Google For Worldwide Right To Be Forgotten

EU Pushes Google For Worldwide Right To Be Forgotten

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) Privacy regulators recommend Google expand its requested removals to apply to all its web domains. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) With no immediate prospect of sanctions relief for Iran, and no solid progress in negotiations with the West over the country's nuclear programme, Ciara Lee asks why talks have still not produced results and what a resolution would mean for both parties. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins