Google Wallet Issues: Why Losing Your Smartphone Could Mean Losing All Your Money
Losing your phone these days is more than a hassle; it can be downright devastating. It's not just an address book tied to a phone company account; it's our social networks laid bare, our photo albums open to sharing, every text message, our ebooks and more, all exposed to someone else's eyes.
If you're a Google Wallet user, it could mean the loss of every penny in your checking account.
After web forum XDA revealed the flaw, another site, TheSmartPhoneChamp, released a video showing how easy it is for someone who either steals or finds a phone with a Google Wallet app on, to delve into that person's bank account. According to the site and video, it's as terribly simply as resetting the app.
Once Google Wallet is restarted, it will ask for a new PIN. The thief types in whatever PIN they want, and viola — instant financial disaster.
The reason this is possible, is Google Wallet attaches access to your funds to the device itself. This is to ensure you as the legitimate user can get to your funds easily. Using Near Field Communications technology, simply move your Google Wallet-enabled smartphone near a special reader, type in your PIN, and you're on your way. Unfortunately, this concept makes it easy to anyone else who has your phone, due to the ease creating a new PIN.
Think this issue is limited to someone stealing your little electronic brain? Nope... Because your Google Wallet account is tied directly to your smartphone, even people who have legitimately purchased your phone may be able to dig their way easily into your funds, unless you ensure the phone has had your information properly flushed.
The forum user that discovered this new flaw states they informed Google of their find, and that Google has a fix for those banks that choose to implement it. Are you secure? If you're a Google Wallet user, you might want to contact your bank and ask...