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Someone stole your phone? Now they'll have your STARBUCKS password – the horror!

Plaintext logins spark, wait for it, a storm in a C cup

Website security in corporate America

Starbucks has been called out after its smartphone app was caught storing unencrypted passwords on the mobe's file system.

The lazy programming was revealed yesterday by security researcher Daniel Wood after he poked around the expensive warm-milk vendor's iOS application.

The stored plaintext password is used to log into the user's online Starbucks account, whereas the software should have used a cryptographic token or similar, ideally. Anyone who can get their hands on the unencrypted passphrase and user email address could hit the jackpot if the victim uses those details to log into other websites.

Getting one's hands on those credentials isn't a piece of overpriced muffin cake, however. To gather the data, one could connect the victim's iPhone to a desktop computer to access the device's file system, and then retrieve a log file generated by the Starbucks app that sloppily includes unencrypted user account information.

It bears noting that in the event a phone is stolen by an attacker who is able to access and extract data from log files, the sanctity of a Starbucks online loyalty account is well down on a long list of things one should be worried about.

Still, that the US cafe giant would fail to provide basic protections and store customer information in plaintext suggests a lax approach to security.

Shortly after the disclosure of the vulnerability, Starbucks issued a statement confirming the flaw and reporting that the company was moving to address the issue in its mobile app.

"We'd like to be clear: there is no indication that any customer has been impacted by this or that any information has been compromised," the company said in a statement.

"Regardless, we take these types of concerns seriously and have added several safeguards to protect the information you share with us."

The company is also asking users to directly report any believed or suspected account theft or fraud attempts.

The use of encryption to protect customer data is essential as retailers and restaurants develop and deploy mobile payment and rewards services, which store and transfer sensitive information. Companies that fail to take security seriously are simply putting themselves on a road to costly failure. ®

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