Starbucks vows to beef up security on its iPhone app

Starbucks vows to beef up security on its iPhone app

Barista dismisses concerns about plain-text passwords for payment process

Starbucks today promised to update its iOS app to calm a storm of interest in a report this week that claimed criminals could easily nab the app's credentials from a stolen iPhone.

At the same time, Starbuck's CIO dismissed concerns raised by the report, but declined to go into specifics about the steps it has, and would, take.

Starbucks' iPhone app stores payment credentials in plain text, making it easy for someone with physical access to the device to make purchases. (Image: Apple.)

"We have added several safeguards to protect the information you share with us," wrote Curt Garner in an open letter published on Starbuck's website Thursday. "To protect the integrity of these added measures, we are unable to share technical details, but can assure you that they sufficiently address the concerns raised in the research report."

The research Garner referenced surfaced yesterday after Computerworld columnist Evan Schuman reported that Daniel Wood, a Minneapolis, Minn. security researcher, had found that Starbuck's iOS app stored the customer's username and password in plain text. Sans encryption -- and with the app's practice of not asking for a password after it has been entered initially to activate the payment process -- a lost or stolen iPhone would give up the credentials.

Security experts Schuman spoke to criticized Starbucks for storing the passwords in the clear.

Garner also said that Starbucks would beef up the security of its iPhone app in a future update, but again did not go into details.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we are also working to accelerate the deployment of an update for the app that will add extra layers of protection," Garner wrote in the letter. "We expect this update to be ready soon and will share our progress here."

Starbucks' iOS app was last updated May 1, 2013, according to Apple's App Store.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is

See more by Gregg Keizer on

Read more about malware and vulnerabilities in Computerworld's Malware and Vulnerabilities Topic Center.

Follow Us

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Appleiosoperating systemssoftwarestarbucksmobile appsMalware and Vulnerabilities


EDGE 2023

EDGE is the leading technology conference for business leaders in Australia and New Zealand, built on the foundations of collaboration, education and advancement.


ARN has celebrated gender diversity and recognised female excellence across the Australian tech channel since first launching WIICTA in 2012, acknowledging the achievements of a talented group of female front runners who have become influential figures across the local industry.

ARN Innovation Awards 2023

Innovation Awards is the market-leading awards program for celebrating ecosystem innovation and excellence across the technology sector in Australia.

Show Comments