App developers love using backend-as-a-service (BaaS) companies to store and host the data they collect from users, but researchers recently warned the way they do so could be putting sensitive data in front of the prying eyes of cybercriminals.

(In)Security of Backend-as-a-Service,” a paper presented at the recent Black Hat Europe conference, showed how hard-coded credentials in many iOS and Android apps could be easily removed to provide access to sensitive data. As part of their study, the researchers published a tool called HAVOC to help spot apps where BaaS connections might introduce security risks. Close to 19 million records and 56 million pieces of data were discovered in a review of 2 million apps.

To some extent, the very ease of using BaaS services is the same reason they pose security threats. As Computerworld noted, app developers can quickly sign up and download a software development kit (SDK) to start using third-party providers to store information in the cloud and manage things like push notifications. The research revealed that there is a systemic mistake being made: using primary BaaS credentials as access keys. This puts cybercriminals much closer to sensitive data than they would hope to get otherwise.

For example, SecurityWeek reported that researchers were quickly able to see personally identifiable information such as dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses and locations. Even worse, it’s possible for third parties to modify sensitive data they obtain through BaaS services depending on the kind of mobile app in use. This could open up even more security problems if attackers start to exploit these holes and tamper with financial transaction records, social media profile details and so on.

Of course, a lot of consumer mobile apps are made by independent developers. As more large companies and brands create apps for personal or even business use, they may approach BaaS offerings a little differently and use more security-focused default credentials that would protect sensitive data. In the meantime, The Register suggested that ongoing education for the developer community should become a priority for companies like Amazon and Facebook, as should vulnerability scanning before apps are submitted to app stores.

More from

Bridging the 3.4 Million Workforce Gap in Cybersecurity

As new cybersecurity threats continue to loom, the industry is running short of workers to face them. The 2022 (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study identified a 3.4 million worldwide cybersecurity worker gap; the total existing workforce is estimated at 4.7 million. Yet despite adding workers this past year, that gap continued to widen.Nearly 12,000 participants in that study felt that additional staff would have a hugely positive impact on their ability to perform their duties. More hires would boost proper risk…

The Evolution of Antivirus Software to Face Modern Threats

Over the years, endpoint security has evolved from primitive antivirus software to more sophisticated next-generation platforms employing advanced technology and better endpoint detection and response.  Because of the increased threat that modern cyberattacks pose, experts are exploring more elegant ways of keeping data safe from threats.Signature-Based Antivirus SoftwareSignature-based detection is the use of footprints to identify malware. All programs, applications, software and files have a digital footprint. Buried within their code, these digital footprints or signatures are unique to the respective…

How Do Threat Hunters Keep Organizations Safe?

Neil Wyler started his job amid an ongoing cyberattack. As a threat hunter, he helped his client discover that millions of records had been stolen over four months. Even though his client used sophisticated tools, its threat-hunting technology did not detect the attack because the transactions looked normal. But with Wyler’s expertise, he was able to realize that data was leaving the environment as well as entering the system. His efforts saved the company from suffering even more damage and…

The White House on Quantum Encryption and IoT Labels

A recent White House Fact Sheet outlined the current and future U.S. cybersecurity priorities. While most of the topics covered were in line with expectations, others drew more attention. The emphasis on critical infrastructure protection is clearly a top national priority. However, the plan is to create a labeling system for IoT devices, identifying the ones with the highest cybersecurity standards. Few expected that news. The topic of quantum-resistant encryption reveals that such concerns may become a reality sooner than…