Starbucks Mobile Payment App Stores Unencrypted Passwords
- By Ginger Hill
- Jan 16, 2014
Standing in line at Starbucks, I frequently see people whipping out their smartphones and scanning them to pay for their specialty coffee beverages and treats via the Starbucks mobile payment app. This, along with friends telling me I should, has almost convinced me to download the app, which would enable me to pay for my addiction directly from my smartphone, too. But, when I found out that this app linked to my bank account, this made me think twice. And, I’m sure glad that I did.
Apparently there is a report circulating in which Starbucks executives admit that the mobile app stores passwords in clear text, with no encryption whatsoever! Simply connect any smartphone with Starbucks’ mobile payment app downloaded onto it to a computer, and anyone can easily retrieve the password from a crash log.
As if that’s not bad enough, as of yesterday, it appeared that Starbucks had no intention of fixing the problem. Starbucks executives told the media that the company has “taken steps to safeguard customers’ information;” however these “steps” haven’t been identified publically. Besides, in order for a criminal to cause any damage, they would need to have physical possession of a user’s smartphone. Now, I don’t know about you, but trying to pry my smartphone from me is like trying to chisel concrete with a metal toothpick! I guess it could happen, but it’s not very likely.
While the Starbucks’ app only risks usernames, passwords and email addresses, moving over to “eating fresh,” Subway’s Ordering for California app stores complete street addresses, credit card info, email address and geolocation of app users in plain text.
Wonder what other fast food apps aren’t encrypted.
ARTICLE UPDATE: Starbucks CIO Curt Gartner issued a press statement saying that although “there is no indication that any customer has been impacted by this or that any information has been compromised” Starbucks will update its mobile payment app.
(Photo Credit: Sean Wandzilak / Shutterstock.com)
Ginger Hill is Group Social Media Manager.