26th ACM Joint European Software Engineering Conference and Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (ESEC/FSE 2018), November 4–9, 2018, Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA

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Industry Papers
Are Mobile Banking Apps Secure? What Can Be Improved?
Sen Chen, Ting Su, Lingling Fan, Guozhu Meng, Minhui Xue, Yang Liu, and Lihua Xu
(East China Normal University, China; Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; Chinese Academy of Sciences, China; Macquarie University, Australia; New York University Shanghai, China)
Publisher's Version
Abstract: Mobile banking apps, as one of the most contemporary FinTechs, have been widely adopted by banking entities to provide instant financial services. However, our recent work discovered thousands of vulnerabilities in 693 banking apps, which indicates these apps are not as secure as we expected. This motivates us to conduct this study for understanding the current security status of them. First, we take 6 months to track the reporting and patching procedure of these vulnerabilities. Second, we audit 4 state-of the-art vulnerability detection tools on those patched vulnerabilities. Third, we discuss with 7 banking entities via in-person or online meetings and conduct an online survey to gain more feedback from financial app developers. Through this study, we reveal that (1) people may have inconsistent understandings of the vulnerabilities and different criteria for rating severity; (2) state-of-the-art tools are not effective in detecting vulnerabilities that the banking entities most concern; and (3) more efforts should be endeavored in different aspects to secure banking apps. We believe our study can help bridge the existing gaps, and further motivate different parties, including banking entities, researchers and policy makers, to better tackle security issues altogether.


Time stamp: 2019-05-26T07:20:42+02:00