Threat Intelligence

11/22/2017
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Samsung Pay Leaks Mobile Device Information

Researcher at Black Hat Europe will show how Samsung Pay's security falls short and ways attackers could potentially bypass it.

Mobile users installing Samsung Pay on their devices could have sensitive information stolen by attackers due to a newly discovered weakness in the app that leaks the digital tokens that secure transactions and other technical information such as network traffic logs.

An attacker could capture this information without having to authenticate to the device, according to a Tencent researcher who goes by the name of HC, who at Black Hat Europe 2017 next month will present his findings on the Samsung Pay security weaknesses.

"This information can let the attacker learn much more about the internal mechanisms of Samsung Pay and allow them to use it to their advantage to go even deeper into Samsung Pay," HC says.

The attacker, for example, could take the information and use it to view communication between users and their banks in plain text. With enough information, HC notes, an attacker could create another token to withdraw money from users' bank accounts.

Samsung Pay's tokens are unique alphanumeric identifiers generated via algorithms and designed to eliminate the need to use a credit card or debit card number.

"This is not a vulnerability in Samsung Pay, but a mistake in Samsung Pay's app. The mistake is you don't need privileges to get access to the phone log system," says HC, who has notified Samsung about the issue.

HC conducted his research using a Samsung Galaxy S6 but says all Samsung Galaxy smartphones that feature Samsung Pay may be at risk.

The purpose of HC's presentation is to discuss Samsung Pay's security and how to generate a token without the device being physically present, which is different than a 2016 Black Hat Samsung Pay demonstration by another security researcher, HC notes.

Although HC in his research had aimed to generate a token without a Samsung Galaxy device, he acknowledged he was not able to achieve that goal because of the strength of the encrypted traffic and difficulty in accessing the secure chip to crack the encrypted key.

"It is possible to compromise Samsung Pay with the right tools and skills," HC says, noting in his particular case the desired tools were not immediately available.

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Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio

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