Google Wallet Halts Prepaid Card Function to Fix Flaw

Google has temporarily halted prepaid card functionality on its Google Wallet mobile app to find a “permanent fix” to a security flaw.
The Google Wallet mobile app stores your credit cards and offers on your phone. When you check out at a brick-and-mortar store that accepts Google Wallet, you can pay and redeem offers by tapping your phone at the point of sale.
You can also set up a Google Wallet Prepaid Card account through the app. But if you lose your phone with prepaid card data – and you didn’t lock your screen – a hacker can access your account by re-establishing a PIN for the app.
Google takes “concrete actions to help protect our users,” said Osama Bedier, Vice President, Google Wallet and Payments, in a blog post yesterday. “For example, to address an issue that could have allowed unauthorized use of an existing prepaid card balance if someone recovered a lost phone without a screen lock, tonight we temporarily disabled provisioning of prepaid cards.
“We took this step as a precaution until we issue a permanent fix soon.”
The Smartphone Champ revealed the security flaw in Google Wallet that is simple to use and requires no addition software. It also does not require a rooted device.
If the smart phone user loses his device and does not have the lock-screen option set, then the security flaw is exposed.
Because the credit card data is tied to the smart phone – and not a person’s Google account – anyone holding a Google Wallet-enabled phone can change the Google Wallet PIN within the application settings menu.
Doing so clears the data for the Google Wallet app. Once this is done, the Google Wallet app will prompt the user/hacker for a new PIN.
But when a hacker adds the Google prepaid card to the Google Wallet app after resetting the data, the old card data will come up – enabling access to the card’s funds.
Paying via credit or prepaid card accounts on mobile devices is rapidly on the rise. So is the practice of small business owners accepting credit or debit cards on these devices that cost less in merchant fees than traditional methods.
But consumers also have to be diligent in taking all possible precautions to protect credit, debit or prepaid card account data on their devices.
Mobile payment developers, however, contend that these apps provide greater safeguards than plastic carried around in wallets or typical card use at the checkout counters of big retailers.
“Mobile payments are going to become more common in the coming years, and we will learn much more as we continue to develop Google Wallet,” Bedier said. “In the meantime, you can be confident that the digital wallet you carry provides defenses that plastic and leather simply don’t.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *