Mobile security flaw places millions of app users at risk

Researchers in Germany have now identified a common weakness in programming practices.

A research team in Germany has now stated that they have found a common poor programming practice that has left a flaw that could lead to a mobile security exposure that risks data breaches for millions of app users.

The method of authenticating users could potentially place the personal data of those individuals at risk.

The flaw in the programming could potentially expose the personal data of the users of the apps in which the developers used those mobile security practices. The reason is because of the method by which the app developers authenticate users during the data storage and retrieval processes with cloud databases, such as the Amazon Web Services and Parse at Facebook. The reasearchers are from the Darmstadt University of Technology and the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology.

The researchers identified the mobile security flaw by looking into 750,000 Google Play and Apple Store apps.

Mobile Security threat to many usersWhat the researchers found was that many of them use mobile authentication strategies by way of basic API-tokens, despite the fact that there are other methods readily available that are considered to be notably more secure.

This app development strategy is in direct opposition to the advice for best practices that has been issues by cloud storage providers. According to a statement made by Amazon Web Services, they have been advised of a “small number” of mobile app developers who have apps that hold AWS credentials. It said that it is their belief that those developers have “inadvertently embedded their own AWS credentials within their mobile applications, which could lead to unauthorized use of the developer’s AWS services and data.”

The statement also pointed out that AWS took the step to communicate directly with each of those developers in order to offer them guidance for the removal of their credentials from the apps. They also took the step to “encourage them to carefully examine their AWS resources for unauthorised activity and provide assistance as needed.”

The German team’s leader, Professor Eric Bodden said that this was a significant mobile security issue, as they were able to identify 56 million unprotected data sets.

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