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Vulnerability in Amazon Photos Android App Exposed User Information

Cybersecurity firm Checkmarx has published details on a high-severity vulnerability in the Amazon Photos Android application that could have allowed malicious apps to steal an Amazon access token.

With more than 50 million downloads, Amazon Photos offers cloud storage, allowing users to store photos and videos at their original quality, as well as to print and share photos, and to display them on multiple Amazon devices.

In November 2021, Checkmarx researchers identified an issue in the application that could have leaked the Amazon access token to malicious applications on the user’s device, potentially exposing the user's personal information. The bug was addressed in December 2021.

The leaked Amazon access token is used for user authentication across Amazon APIs, including some that contain personal information such as names, addresses, and emails. Through the Amazon Drive API, for example, the attacker could access the user’s files, Checkmarx says.

The issue, the researchers explain, resided in a misconfigured component that was “exported in the app’s manifest file, thus allowing external applications to access it.”

The issue resulted in the access token being sent in the header of a HTTP request, but the most important aspect was the fact that an attacker could control the server receiving this request.

“The activity is declared with an intent-filter used by the application to decide the destination of the request containing the access token. Knowing this, a malicious application installed on the victim’s phone could send an intent that effectively launches the vulnerable activity and triggers the request to be sent to a server controlled by the attacker,” Checkmarx notes.

The leaked token could provide the attacker with access to all of the user information available through the Amazon API. Using the Amazon Drive API, the attacker could access users’ files and read, re-write, or delete their contents.

The researchers also explain that the access token could have allowed anyone to modify files and erase their history, to prevent recovery, or could have completely deleted files and folders from the user’s Amazon Drive account.

“With all these options available for an attacker, a ransomware scenario was easy to come up with as a likely attack vector. A malicious actor would simply need to read, encrypt, and re-write the customer’s files while erasing their history,” the researchers say.

The vulnerability might have had a wider impact, given that the potentially affected APIs that the researchers identified represent only a small subset of the entire Amazon ecosystem, Checkmarx also notes.

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