Tumblr Fixes iOS App After Security Fail

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Yahoo’s blogging baby hasn’t been doing SSL right

Yahoo-owned Tumblr has pushed out a fix for its iOS app, after claims it was not using encryption to keep users’ passwords safe.

Tumblr issued an update yesterday, urging all users to change their passwords as a precaution. “We have just released a very important security update for our iPhone and iPad apps addressing an issue that allowed passwords to be compromised in certain circumstances,” the blogging company said in a blog post, revealing little else.

Fail 2 - ShutterStock: © kaarsten

It did hint that secure sockets layer (SSL) was not implemented properly, by saying passwords could be “sniffed in transit on certain versions of the app”.

Tumblr SSL flaw

A reader of The Register claimed the iOS apps was not logging users in over an SSL server, meaning plain text passwords were being sent between phones and servers. Hackers sitting on the same network could easily intercept such passwords and compromise a Tumblr account, and any other site using similar login credentials.

The threat becomes considerably more severe where the Tumblr user is on an unprotected Wi-Fi network.

It appears the app uses SSL after login, but not before – a serious security failure in many professionals’ eyes.

Many Internet services do SSL badly, as TechWeekEurope discovered last year in an investigation into security on university websites.

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