A feature in the upcoming iOS 12 release intended to make two-factor authentication easier for users could end up opening some to banking fraud. The potential vulnerability illustrates the risks that come in removing friction from online transactions.
Andreas Gutmann, a researcher at OneSpan’s Cambridge Innovation Centre and a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Fellow of the European Commission, notes that the Security Code Autofill Feature, which will automatically input the security code sent to an iPhone by a two-factor authentication (2FA) scheme, removes the human validation aspect of the transaction signing/authentication process. A human verifying critical information (such as a login attempt) is a critical piece of the 2FA security process; automating the process removes this and could open the user to man-in-the-middle, phishing, or other social engineering attacks.
Apple has stated that the purpose of security code autofill is to speed up the login process and reduce errors. Reducing friction could also increase adoption of 2FA among iPhone users. Gutmann questions whether the benefits are worth the risk and notes that many online banking 2FA schemes provide transaction authentication rather than just user authentication - something that automating the process could endanger.
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