Organizers of the Black Hat conference have updated the event’s iOS and Android applications after researchers at mobile security firm Lookout discovered several flaws that could have been exploited to impersonate users and spy on them.
The Black Hat USA 2016 apps, developed for UBM by DoubleDutch, allow users to obtain information on the agenda, speakers, attendees, exhibitors and sponsors. The application made for this year’s event also included a social component that enabled people to create a profile, contact other attendees, schedule events, and post messages to a Twitter-like activity feed.
This social component has been removed from the Black Hat apps after Lookout researchers discovered some serious vulnerabilities in the way they had been implemented. Experts found several methods that could have been leveraged to impersonate users or spy on them.
For instance, the apps allowed users to register an account with any email address as long as it hadn’t been previously utilized to sign up for an account. By not requiring users to confirm the email address they provided at registration, attackers could impersonate attendees and post to the activity feed or send messages to other people on their behalf. The profile users could create via the application accepted any information, making it even easier to impersonate someone.
Another problem found by Lookout was related to the password reset feature. Experts discovered that a logged-in user still had access to an account even after the password for that account was reset. This weakness existed because the authentication token was not set to expire after a password reset.
“An attacker with foresight could have registered (before the real user does) any name and email address for the attendee they wanted to track in the app. After doing this, an attacker could have gained permanent access to the account with that email address, even in cases where the real user resets the account’s password,” Lookout explained in a blog post. “The attacker would have had permanent access to the account and could have spied on the user and post comments impersonating the victim.”
These issues have been addressed by removing the social component from the Black Hat USA 2016 mobile applications. Users don’t need to take any action as the update has been automatically pushed out to devices.
This is not the first time researchers have identified vulnerabilities in mobile applications created specially for security conferences. Experts uncovered security holes in RSA Conference apps on at least a couple of occasions, including this year when they found a hardcoded password in the Android app used by vendors to scan visitors’ badges.