Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws

Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em

The whopping 70 per cent of retail and 69 perc ent of financial services apps are vulnerable to data breaches.

That's according to an analysis of 705 million lines of code as used by 1,316 enterprise applications carried out by software analysis and measurement firm CAST. The firm reckons a growing number of data breaches and security incidents can be directly linked to poor code quality, which can be attributed to tightening project deadlines and other factors.

“So long as IT organisations sacrifice software quality and security for the sake of meeting unrealistic schedules, we can expect to see more high-profile attacks leading to the exposure and exploitation of sensitive customer data," said CAST EVP Lev Lesokhin, the exec who led the security analysis.

He added: "Businesses handling customer financial information have a responsibility to improve software quality and reduce the operational risk of their applications – not only to protect their businesses, but ultimately their customers."

CAST has, of course, a vested interest in talking up the damage from code quality problems; its technology and services are designed to identify such issues. That said, the problems caused by coding errors (crashes, or worse, security bugs) are all too real.

Input validation errors gave rise to the infamous Heartbleed bug and are among the most common class of coding error more generally. CAST found that – contrary to public perception – government IT had the highest percentage of applications without any input validation violations (61 per cent), while independent software vendors scored worst (12 per cent without violations).

The research also revealed that the financial services industry has the highest number of input validation violations per application (224), even though their applications, on average, are only half as complex as the largest application scanned.

Coding errors don't just exist in enterprise apps, of course. For example, a recent study of the 1,000 most downloaded free applications in the Google Play store by FireEye revealed that 674 (67 per cent) had SSL vulnerabilities. Any of the three SSL vulns that FireEye's security researchers looked for made the apps susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks. ®

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