Google fixes Wallet flaw


Google said it has fixed a vulnerability in its Wallet service, after two flaws brought the security of the mobile payments offering into question.

Over the weekend, the tech giant had temporarily disabled provisioning of prepaid cards for Google Wallet as a precaution until a permanent fix was found.

We took this step as a precaution to ensure the security of our Wallet customers.

Google has now reopened the service, although it did not specify which vulnerability it had fixed.

"In addition, we issued a fix that prevents an existing prepaid card from being re-provisioned to another user," said Osama Bedier, vice president of Google Wallet and Payments, in an updated blog post.

"While we're not aware of any abuse of prepaid cards or the Wallet PIN resulting from these recent reports, we took this step as a precaution to ensure the security of our Wallet customers."

One flaw meant that if a user was able to clear the data for Google Wallet in the phone's application settings, they could reset the PIN and spend the remainder of funds on the account.

There was no information from Google on whether it had done anything to prevent a brute force attack exposing PIN numbers on rooted devices.

When zvelo researcher Joshua Rubin took apart the code of the Wallet service, he found a long integer "salt" and a SHA256 hex encoded string "hash." To get the PIN information all he had to do was run a simple brute force attack.

"zvelo feels that the fact that this attack requires root permissions does not in the least bit diminish the risk it imposes on users of Google Wallet," Rubin said in a blog post earlier this week.

"Our reasoning is simple: presently, the PIN is easily revealed, but with the proper fix in place, the PIN will be nearly impossible to crack. It is as simple as that."

Google advised customers not to root their phones.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.