Companies scramble to fix lack of encryption on mobile apps

Their mobile apps were transmitting payment card information without encryption

Several companies have moved quickly to add encryption to their mobile apps after it was discovered they failied to encrypt payment card information in transit, putting users at risk.

The apps were not using SSL/TLS (Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security), an encryption protocol that scrambles data as it's sent across the Internet, according to Wandera, a cloud and mobile security vendor.

"With so many breaches and costly data loss incidents in the news, it's hard to believe that any business would fail to take such a basic precaution as to encrypt sensitive traffic as it's transmitted to or from a website," said Michael J. Covington, senior product manager, in a video posted Wednesday.

Data breaches can be costly for companies, and how to better protect payment card information has been a big question after major breaches at retailers including Target, Home Depot and many others.

Five of the 16 companies named by Wandera in a blog post have now fixed their problems, including easyJet, Chiltern Railways, San Diego Zoo, CN Tower and Aer Lingus, a Wandera spokeswoman said Wednesday. All of the companies were notified of the issue by Wandera, which estimates they collectively serve 500,000 customers a day.

The company detected the problems while analyzing traffic flows of customers that use its mobile security app and gateway technology.

Using SSL/TLS when transmitting information such as login credentials, personal information and payment card data is considered standard practice to guard against breaches. Encrypted connections are typically signified in the browser URL bar by a padlock icon and "https."

If the data is not encrypted, someone on the same network -- such as a public Wi-Fi hotspot -- could collect the traffic and see the information in plain text.

Covington said in some cases the primary websites did use encryption, but the same services were not protected when using mobile browsers or apps.

Mobile apps often have multiple connections to backend services, and all need to be treated with the same protection, Covington said.

In January, Wandera found that the National Football League's mobile app leaked usernames and passwords due to an unencrypted API (application programming interface) call, according to an advisory. The problem was later fixed.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?