Feeds

Banking apps: insecure and badly written, say researchers

Buggy code, bad security

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

Security researchers IO Active are warning that many smartphone banking apps are leaky and need to be fixed.

Testing 40 iOS-based banking apps from 60 banks around the world, the research summary is pretty nerve-wracking:

  • 40 per cent are vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks, because they don't validate the authenticity of SSL certificates presented by the server;
  • 20 per cent lacked “Position Independent Executable (PIE) and Stack Smashing Protection enabled”, which IO Active says is used to help mitigate memory corruption attacks;
  • Half the apps are vulnerable to cross-site-scripting (XSS) attacks;
  • Over 40 per cent leave sensitive information in the system log; and
  • Over 30 per cent use hard-coded credentials of some kind.

Most worrying, however, are a couple of 90 per cent statistics: the number of apps that included non-SSL links, and the number that lack jailbreak detection. Even those with detection could still be installed: “All of the applications could be installed on a jailbroken iOS device. This helped speed up the static and black box analysis”, writes IO Active's Ariel Sanchez.

By including non-SSL links in the apps, Sanchez says, an attacker could “intercept the traffic and inject arbitrary JavaScript/HTML code in an attempt to create a fake login prompt or similar scam.”

“Moreover, it was found that 50% of the apps are vulnerable to JavaScript injections via insecure UIWebView implementations. In some cases, the native iOS functionality was exposed, allowing actions such as sending SMS or emails from the victim’s device,” he continues.

Buggy HTML in banking app

This UIWebView implementation allows a false HTML form to be injected. Source: IO Active

The IO Active post also details a number of other information leaks, including unencrypted data stored in sqlite databases, and information like IP addresses and application paths that could let a determined and skilled attacker draw inferences about the server-side infrastructure the app is talking to.

The research only looked at the client side, Sanchez states, and where possible, IO Active notified banks of the vulnerabilities he identified. ®

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
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.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.