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Tumblr's iOS fix for clear-text password login howler was WEEKS LATE

Fanbois, stop snapping pics of your dinner and update

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Tumblr has urged users of its iOS app to put down that latte and start updating their software and changing their passwords. But it appears the selfies-rich pic app only copped to the problem and issued the fix a full two weeks after a Reg reader had first contacted it about the issue.

Our source had told The Reg that he'd run tests revealing the kitten-friendly blogging platform exposed users' login credentials every time the iPhone and iPad users used an open Wi-Fi network.

The error made it easy for hackers to sniff passwords over the open Wi-Fi networks so ubiquitous in coffee shops, using readily available tools such as Wireshark.

The security howler was discovered by our reader during the course of an audit of which iOS apps were permissible for use on corporate smartphones.

The source, who wishes to remain anonymous, told us he had notified Tumblr about the problem TWO WEEKS ago. He said he only went to the press after his warnings were ignored. Our own experiences this week confirm that Tumblr's security response team is hard to reach.

It was only after escalating the matter through Yahoo!'s PR team that the message finally got through. Experts at ThreatTrack Security were able to confirm our reader's concerns within minutes of our request for comment on the matter.

Android or web-based versions of Tumblr's app were never vulnerable and always ran logins through a secure connection.

The Yahoo!-owned micro-blogging site acknowledged the problem and pushed out an update to its iOS app early on Wednesday morning. Version 3.4.1 of Tumblr's iOS app, released through the Apple Store, only states that it includes a "security fix" without giving any details.

However Tumblr vice-president of product Derek Gottfrid confirmed that a vulnerability with the app meant login usernames and passwords were sent in the clear. iPhone or iPad users should update their password on Tumblr as well as anywhere else they use the same password, Gottfrid advised in a post on an official but internal blog.

In a statement, issued in response to El Reg's repeated inquiries on the issue this week, Tumblr apologised for the whole security flap.

Earlier today, Tumblr was notified of a security vulnerability introduced in our iOS app. We immediately released an update that repairs the issue and are notifying affected users. We obviously take these incidents very seriously and deeply regret this error.

Independent security consultant Graham Cluley criticised Tumblr for sloppy security. He pointed out that parent firm Yahoo! has "priors" when it comes to SSL snafus.

"It’s good news that Tumblr has now released a version of its app which fixes this flaw," Cluley writes. "But the gaping security hole shouldn’t have been present in the first place. And an updated app doesn’t rescue any users’ passwords which may have been stolen or exposed up until now.

"Yahoo!, which recently acquired Tumblr, has been in trouble with HTTPS/SSL in the past. Up until January it was one of the few major webmail providers which didn’t provide an option for users to login via HTTPS/SSL," he added. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

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