A recent report highlights app developers’ misconfiguration and poor implementation of third party cloud services, which may have exposed sensitive data of over 100 million users.
An investigation of 23 Android applications by researchers at Check Point Research led to the discovery of numerous misconfigurations of cloud services including real-time databases, push notification managers, and cloud storage that could potentially facilitate malicious actors in their misconduct. This not only places sensitive user data—passwords, private chats, device locations, payment details, and more—in jeopardy, but also compromises protection of developers’ internal resources.
Much to the researchers’ dismay, developers of 13 of the applications failed to equip their real-time databases with authentication features. The researchers effortlessly tapped into the real-time database of a taxi booking app with over 50,000 users—with one request, the team was able to access chat messages between drivers and passengers, their locations, phone numbers, and full names.
The researchers also found that the keys used for accessing cloud storage were embedded into the app itself for 10 of the applications. The research team was able to decipher keys used by a screen recorder application to gain access to recordings and fax documents by analyzing the application files. Another app used keys embedded in the application file to send push notifications, which enabled attackers to send fraudulent notifications to users to request personal or payment information.
As third-party cloud services are nearly omnipresent in mobile applications, CPR stressed the need for mobile app developers to use best practices in configuring and implementing cloud services.