Feeds

Security shocker: 75% of US bank websites have flaws

Insecure by design

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The vast majority of US bank websites jeopardize the security of their online customers by including design flaws that expose passwords and are susceptible to tampering by attackers, researchers say.

In a paper titled "Analyzing Web sites for user-visible security design flaws," researchers from the University of Michigan found 75 percent of bank sites surveyed had at least one such design flaw. The report was presented Friday at the Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security meeting at Carnegie Mellon University.

"To our surprise, design flaws that could compromise security were widespread and included some of the largest banks in the country," said Atul Prakash, a professor in the university's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, who initiated the study. Doctoral students Laura Falk and Kevin Borders also participated.

The flaws aren't bugs, but rather features built into the design of the sites. They include:

  • Placing secure login boxes on insecure pages, i.e. pages that aren't protected by secure sockets layer. That allows passwords to be intercepted through man-in-the-middle attacks.
  • Putting contact information and security notices on insecure pages. This makes it easy for scammers to change addresses and phone numbers listed on the page.
  • Not making it clear when the website is redirecting customers to a page outside the bank's domain. As a result, customers don't know whether to trust the site.
  • Allowing inadequate user IDs and passwords. Sites frequently allowed email addresses as user IDs and didn't require strong passwords.
  • Emailing sensitive information. This included passwords and statements.

The report was based on the examination of websites for 214 financial institutions. The study was conducted in 2006, so it's possible the designs have been cleaned up. But we doubt it. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
SMASH the Bash bug! Red Hat, Apple scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
Desperate VXers enslave FREEZERS in DDoS bot
Updated Spike malware targets Asia
Heatmiser digital thermostat users: For pity's sake, DON'T SWITCH ON the WI-FI
A stranger turns up YOUR heat with default password 1234
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.