You and I have come to think of our Smartphones as indispensable tools. Flaws recently discovered in mobile apps for Facebook, Linkedin and Dropbox could turn our tools into weapons by exposing us to data theft at many levels, including personal identity theft and corporate data loss.
Taking extra precautions now will protect not only your Smartphone but other devices, too, as the flaw may well be present in other mobile applications including many iOS games.
Apparently, Facebook’s iOS and Android apps don’t encrypt their users’ login credentials. These flaws expose users to identity theft by saving user authentication keys (usernames and passwords) in easily accessible, plain text files. These unencrypted files may be stolen, transferred to another device in a matter of minutes, and used to access the victim’s accounts without ever having to enter any user login credentials.
Security researcher Gareth Wright reported discovering the flaw in the mobile Facebook application for iOS late last week. Wright sent his Facebook .plist to an associate — Scoopz blogger Neil Cooper — who copied the file onto his own device, opened up the Facebook app, and had immediate, full access to Wright’s Facebook account.”
Facebook is working on closing the gap in security according to Wright but the app developers must start encrypting the 60-day access token that Facebook supplies. Otherwise, there’s a world of private information just waiting to be tapped. Think of the chaos in trying to recover from identity theft of that magnitude.
In the meantime, here are some actions you can take to protect yourself:
- Don’t plug your Smartphone into a shared PC, public dock or charging station.
- If you do use a PC for charging, lock your device for the charge, and don’t unlock it until you remove it from the PC.
- Use strong passwords including letters, numbers, symbols, upper and lower case. Don’t rely on a four-digit password.
- Turn on the ‘Find My iPhone’ function.
The potential for criminals to exploit this flaw is enormous. You’ll be well served to take every precaution before you feel the nauseating pit of your stomach once you’ve been hacked. Further Resources on Mobile App Hacking.
John Sileo is an award-winning author and international speaker on the dark art of deception (identity theft, data privacy, social media manipulation) and its polar opposite, the powerful use of trust, to achieve success. He is CEO of The Sileo Group, which advises teams on how to multiply performance by building a culture of deep trust. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, the FDIC, and Homeland Security. Sample his Keynote Presentation or watch him on Anderson Cooper, 60 Minutes or Fox Business. 1.800.258.8076.