Starbucks Admits It Stores Unencrypted User Passwords, Location Data in iPhone App

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starbucksappStarbucks has admitted that its mobile payment app for iPhone does not encrypt user passwords and location data, instead storing it in a clear text format, according to a report from Computerworld.

The credentials were stored in such a way that anyone with access to the phone can see the passwords and usernames by connecting the phone to a PC. No jailbreaking of the phone is necessary. And that clear text also displays an extensive list of geolocation tracking points (latitude, longitude), a treasure trove of security and privacy gems for anyone who steals the phone.

The vulnerability was first discovered by security researcher Daniel Wood, who published his findings online for the security community after repeatedly not having success when attempting to contact Starbucks.

The coffee company tells Computerworld that it has "security measures in place now related to that". However, Wood tells The Verge that anything Starbucks does on its end "would not matter" because the vulnerability lies within the app itself.

Potential criminals would still need to physically have the phone to attain any user information, and the only information available would be user names, passwords and location data, but users of the app who had the "auto replenish" feature on would enable criminals to continually add money to the app to make Starbucks purchases.

Update: Starbucks has issued a statement acknowledging the issue and promising an expedited updated for the company's iOS app.

We’d like to be clear: there is no indication that any customer has been impacted by this or that any information has been compromised. Regardless, we take these types of concerns seriously and have added several safeguards to protect the information you share with us. To protect the integrity of these added measures, we are unable to share technical details but can assure you that they sufficiently address the concerns raised in the research report.

Out of an abundance of caution, we are also working to accelerate the deployment of an update for the app that will add extra layers of protection. We expect this update to be ready soon and will share our progress here. While we are working on the update, we would like to emphasize that your information is protected and that you should continue to feel confident about the integrity of our iOS app.

Top Rated Comments

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89 months ago

Glad I don't have a Starbucks app in my country. Good luck cleaning that up, Starbucks.

Why because you hate convenience and free drinks and discounts?

With all the insecurity in computer systems these days (Target, Neimans) the Starbucks app is really only a distraction. Someone would have to have physical access to your phone or backup file to get the UID and PW. And even then you are talking about credit for coffees. What's the downside here - $20.

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Do hipsters still hang out at Starbucks? I thought it would be regular Joe Schmuck-people.

No, the Joe Schmuck people hang out on MR and spend their day generalizing and being snarky and condescending about people they don't even know.;)
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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89 months ago
The coffee is so bad, there is always a line of people waiting to buy it
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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89 months ago
Really? It's not that hard to use the keychain which is built into iOS. Every competent iOS developer knows this.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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89 months ago

Personally, I hate going anywhere where asking for "a cup of coffee" produces a blank look...

That's a lot of places though. I mean "cup of coffee" is quite ambiguous & generic. Unless you are at a sit down restaurant or cafe, most coffee shops have multiple sizes.



Average Joe Schmuck was a bad word from my side early in the morning, it's called Jane/John Doe. Or "Svenssons" as we say here in Sweden. The regular average person.

Which was my impression of Starbucks when I was over there. Extremely bad coffe to a slightly premium price for the average consumer that doesn't care.

Yes, "Jane/Jone Doe" has quite a different connotation than "Joe Schumuck." The former is accepted slang for the average person. The latter, of course, is, meant to be offensive; from the yiddish translation, a "d!ck."

Coffee, like people, comes in all different tastes and strengths. Yes, Starbucks has some awful blends, but they have some tasty ones too. I can say the same about the offerings of lots of restaurants. Can't you?

But, honestly the big draw to Starbucks coffee over other coffee shops is not that it's a gourmet delicacy. People buy the drip because its extra caffeinated. If you need your morning caffeine bump that's the place to go. Also Starbucks has a variety of espresso drinks that most shops don't have or are not convenient. Finally, it's a comfortable (usually) place to meet for a casual cup. People like to jab Starbucks the same way they jab Apple. Sometimes its deserved, but most times its just petty, baseless & spiteful.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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89 months ago
Terrible coffee, terrible app. What did you expect?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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89 months ago
does that mean this app will finally get iOS7 support?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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