Study shows lax security leaves ride-sharing apps vulnerable to attack

Kaspersky Lab researchers have examined the security of 13 ride-sharing applications from household manufacturers across the globe – including those from Russia, the US, and Europe.

The company’s experts discovered that all of the applications contain a number of security issues that can potentially allow criminals to take control of shared vehicles, either by stealth or under the guise of another user.

Once access is gained through the app, a criminal can do almost anything – from stealing the vehicle or using it for malicious purposes.

Kaspersky Lab researchers tested 13 car-sharing applications developed by major manufacturers from different markets, which — according to Google Play statistics — have been downloaded over 1 million times.

The research discovered that each of the examined apps contained several security issues. Moreover, the researchers found that malicious users are already capitalizing on stolen accounts for car sharing applications.

The list of security vulnerabilities uncovered includes:

• No defense against man-in-the-middle attacks. This means that while a user believes he is connected to a legitimate website, the traffic is actually being re-directed through the attacker’s site, allowing him to gather any personal data entered by the victim (login, password, PIN, etc.)

• No defense against application reverse engineering. As a result, a criminal can understand how the app works and find a vulnerability that would allow him to obtain access to server-side infrastructure

• No rooting detection techniques. Root rights provide a malicious user with almost endless capabilities and leave the app defenseless

• Lack of protection against app overlaying techniques. This helps malicious apps to show phishing windows and steal users’ credentials

• Less than half of applications demand strong passwords from users, meaning criminals can attack the victim through a simple brute force scenario.

Upon successful exploitation, an attacker can discreetly gain control of the car and use it for malicious purposes – from riding for free and spying on users to stealing the vehicle and even more serious scenarios like stealing users’ personal data and selling it on the black market for financial gain. This could lead to criminals carrying out illegal and dangerous moves on the roads under the guise of other people’s identities.

“Our research concluded that, in their current state, applications for car sharing services are not ready to withstand malware attacks. And while we have not yet detected any cases of sophisticated attacks against car sharing services, cybercriminals understand the value that such apps hold, and existing offers on the black-market point to the fact that vendors do not have much time to remove the vulnerabilities,” said Victor Chebyshev, security expert at Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky Lab researchers advised users of car sharing apps to follow these measures in order to protect their cars and private data from possible cyberattacks:

• Don’t root your Android device, as this will open almost unlimited capabilities to malicious apps

• Keep the OS version of your device up to date, to reduce vulnerabilities in the software and lower the risk of attack

• Install a proven security solution, in order to protect your device from cyberattacks.

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