Feeds

Google Wallet falls open after casual hack

Crack the PIN? No, just hit reset

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Turns out it's not necessary to decrypt the PIN, or even hack into Google's Wallet, just ask the phone nicely and it will let anyone root though its innards.

The flaw was spotted by The Smartphone Champ, and unlike yesterday's efforts which required root access and a modicum of brute force, this hack barely qualifies for the term, as it just involves asking the phone to reset the application data. That wipes the stored PIN, but not the card details, so a new PIN is entered and transactions immediately become possible:

Google has apparently responded with a statement, providing a phone number (855-492-5538) which you can call if planning to pass on the handset on to a friend, or in the event that your phone is stolen. Google will then disable the prepaid card to prevent the phone being used to pay for stuff with a tap on the till.

It's easy to imagine how this situation has come about, though harder to understand why Google didn't spot it earlier. The Android application manager allows one to clear app caches, wipe all data belonging to a specific application, as well as uninstalling the app, and we know that the Google Wallet app stores the user's PIN in a file so wiping the data wipes the PIN.

But the card details themselves aren't stored in the phone's filesystem, they're stored safely in the Secure Element, so they don't get wiped when the "application data" is removed.

Run the Google Wallet after removing its data and it assumes it is being run for the first time, and dutifully asks the user to create a PIN. Then ask it to add a prepaid card and it happily finds one already installed in the Secure Element and readies it for use.

None of this makes Google Wallet any less secure than a real wallet, in fact it remains slightly more secure, and it's typical of the teething problems one hits when implementing such a complicated architecture (involving banks, payment processors and various trusted third parties), but it is extremely embarrassing and risks the future of a technology which is already proving surprisingly hard to sell. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen
I scream, you scream, we all scream 'DATA BREACH'!
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
JLaw, Kate Upton exposed in celeb nude pics hack
100 women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids
Records used to plunder game items, sold off to low lifes
Oz fed police in PDF redaction SNAFU
Give us your metadata, we'll publish your data
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.