Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

11/18/2013
06:28 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

iOS Mobile Point-of-Sale Fail

Trendy 'i' mobile payment systems often rolled out with major security flaws, researcher says

Turns out some of those hip iPod and iPad point-of-sale systems popping up at retailers and restaurants are not so hip at protecting payment card information.

Within 10 minutes of a penetration-testing engagement, Mike Park, managing consultant at Trustwave, says he and his team were able to pull credit card numbers off of one of the iPod-based devices at a major retailer client after jailbreaking the device. The retailer was handling card data encryption in the software, Park says, which was "a terribly bad idea."

That pen test nearly two years ago was an eye-opener for Park, who has since conducted several other mobile PoS engagements with other major retail clients with similar results. "A lot of retailers are moving to 'i' devices because they want to look trendy, hip, and be a cool retail location. They don't want those bulky mobile PoS devices -- they want the cool Apple devices," he says. "The problem really is that it increases the attack surface," and they don't realize it, he says.

And that problem is underscored by how big a target retailers have become for hackers: Trustwave in its recent global threats report said that 47 percent of the breaches it investigated were in retail, and 24 percent in food and beverage.

Park will present the results of his research in iOS mobile PoS systems on Thursday at AppSec USA in New York City.

The retailer Park pen tested with the iPods eventually switched over to hardware encryption once it became available, Park says, because when the company first wrote its app, that was not available.

In a recent retail customer engagement, Park discovered that the company wasn't encrypting card data at all. "I was just shocked that they had gotten it so completely wrong. Their card reader was able to encrypt, but they were not doing it. And they accepted [card data] through the UI [user interface], which provides a lot of opportunities for the bad guy," he says.

The retailer relied on the assumption that since only its employees had access to the iOS devices, then they were safe from abuse. "They were overlooking the insider attack," Park says, not to mention any man-in-the-middle attacks from the outside that could sniff information.

More retailers are looking at iOS-based PoS systems as a modern way to minimize the wait for their customers in long lines around the holidays or special sale days, as well as to portray a more hip image for the stores. It also allows the salesperson to check on inventory via the device. "So the guy who just sold you shoes and several shirts can now [handle the transaction] and pull the receipt off his belt like the rental car guys do today" with their earlier-generation mobile PoS devices, Park says. The customer never has to go wait in a long line and consider scrapping the purchase, for example, he says.

But like many software development projects, security is an afterthought, if at all, in mobile PoS apps.

[The new PCI 3.0 changes focus on compliance as a business-as-usual process, rather than a snapshot. See New Version Of PCI Compliance Guidelines Released .]

"Retailers are making some poor choices at the beginning ... that are going to allow these kinds of systems to be compromised unless they think from a security perspective," he says. "The big thing [they are doing wrong] is encryption in software. Regular PoS systems don't do that -- it's all done in the hardware."

It would be more difficult for an outside hack of these mobile PoS systems than for an insider, but "not that difficult," Park says, akin to a TJX-style wireless breach, for instance.

He says he hasn't seen any breaches exploiting these mobile PoS systems to date. But with large retailers leaving these systems open to internal abuse, it's only a matter of time. "I want to be the guy waving the red flag," he says.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/9/2020
Omdia Research Launches Page on Dark Reading
Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading 7/9/2020
4 Security Tips as the July 15 Tax-Day Extension Draws Near
Shane Buckley, President & Chief Operating Officer, Gigamon,  7/10/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15105
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
Django Two-Factor Authentication before 1.12, stores the user's password in clear text in the user session (base64-encoded). The password is stored in the session when the user submits their username and password, and is removed once they complete authentication by entering a two-factor authenticati...
CVE-2020-11061
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
In Bareos Director less than or equal to 16.2.10, 17.2.9, 18.2.8, and 19.2.7, a heap overflow allows a malicious client to corrupt the director's memory via oversized digest strings sent during initialization of a verify job. Disabling verify jobs mitigates the problem. This issue is also patched in...
CVE-2020-4042
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
Bareos before version 19.2.8 and earlier allows a malicious client to communicate with the director without knowledge of the shared secret if the director allows client initiated connection and connects to the client itself. The malicious client can replay the Bareos director's cram-md5 challenge to...
CVE-2020-11081
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
osquery before version 4.4.0 enables a priviledge escalation vulnerability. If a Window system is configured with a PATH that contains a user-writable directory then a local user may write a zlib1.dll DLL, which osquery will attempt to load. Since osquery runs with elevated privileges this enables l...
CVE-2020-6114
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
An exploitable SQL injection vulnerability exists in the Admin Reports functionality of Glacies IceHRM v26.6.0.OS (Commit bb274de1751ffb9d09482fd2538f9950a94c510a) . A specially crafted HTTP request can cause SQL injection. An attacker can make an authenticated HTTP request to trigger this vulnerabi...