How Secure Is Your Google Wallet?

1:20 PM Credit cards aren't going anywhere if consumers even feel unsure about the security of their mobile wallet

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

December 13, 2011

2 Min Read
How Secure Is Your Google Wallet?

1:20 PM -- New forensic security analysis conducted by viaForensics uncovered some bad news for Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s new Wallet mobile payments service. The security firm found that Google stores a significant amount of data, unencrypted, on the device itself, providing fairly easy access to your personal information.

"The largest security risk from apps using NFC [does] not stem from the core NFC technology but instead the apps that use the technology," wrote Andrew Hoog, chief investigative officer for viaForensic. "In this case, the amount of unencrypted data store by Google Wallet surpasses what we believe most consumers find acceptable."

Android has others layers of security in place, including a required PIN, but the perception of insecurity could be almost as damaging as an actual shortcoming. Android's open ecosystem has already been subject to a number of malware attacks, and consumers will be much less forgiving if a future attack compromises their credit card information. If they have any reason to believe a new app isn't entirely safe, they'll likely never use it. (See LR Mobile's 2011 Wireless Turkeys.)

From that perspective, Verizon Wireless opting to exclude Google Wallet from the Nexus S makes a good deal more sense. If there's a security breach, the carrier would undoubtedly bare the brunt of the blame. (See Verizon Blocking Google Wallet? Poor Decision and Isis Taps Gemalto to Secure Tap-to-Pay .)

Especially with an open ecosystem, Google is wise not to dismiss any security concerns -- even if it doesn't agree they are an issue. It is up to the company to ensure apps that use its Wallet are entirely secure. And, it's up to both Google and any wireless operator that lets an NFC app use its secure element to convince consumers the apps are actually up to snuff.

Bottom line is, consumers must be confident that what's in their mobile wallet stays there and can't be found out over the air.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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