Security Issues in Nissan’s Mobile App, NissanConnect, Could Potentially Put Users’ Data at Risk

Submitted by Filip Chytry, security expert, seculu.cz

As technology continues to advance, cars are increasingly becoming integrated into our mobile devices. Automotive brands are now releasing mobile apps, allowing users to connect their music streaming services, social networks, and search engines into the car’s system. One app that I’d like to highlight is NissanConnect, a mobile application from Nissan.

I would like to make it clear that issues discussed in this article are not unique to Nissan's app. They can be found in other apps out there. However, since I own a Nissan car, I had the chance to familiarize myself with the brand’s mobile app. I purchased a Nissan several months ago after reading many user reviews and taking into consideration various technological features of the car. Nissan, the car, is great, but I can't say the same thing about NissanConnect, the app. The companies responsible for its Satnav and the mobile app didn't perform sufficient QA testing. In my opinion, the lack of QA resulted in some security holes in the mobile application.

nissan app review

After installing and configuring NissanConnect, I encountered some issues and read more on reviews from other reviews. I found that other app users were also running into some of the same issues that I had. This led me to disassemble the app to take a closer look at what went into the build and the implementation of its security features.

nissan code

nissan app

I became unpleasantly surprised by some of the data that are shared with Airbiquity over HTTP protocol. The app has the permission android.permission.GET_ACCOUNTS, which means it can access other logins you have on your device, such as Facebook, Pandora, etc., and all login information that can easily be obtained on rooted devices. I was left disappointed that Nissan/Airbiquity had cast aside the level of security in this app.

I contacted Nissan Customer Support, explained the security concerns I had discovered, and offered to come up with a plan to improve these issues. Unfortunately, for legal reasons, Nissan’s company policy prevents them from accepting technically-related improvements from users.

I feel that it’s imperative for a company to be concerned about user privacy issues, prioritize the level of security available to protect customer data, and consider user feedback. Unfortunately, in this case, I don’t feel that Nissan’s response has reflected this attitude.

My experience with NissanConnect has inspired me to investigate and review additional automotive mobile applications, paying close attention to their security features and permissions. In general, it’s important to keep in mind that many mobile apps we use on a daily basis could carry security risks that intrude into our privacy and personal data.

To get a FREE security audit of your mobile applications, drop us a line support@teskalabs.com. We'll hunt and find security holes in your apps for you.

Additional reading:

  1. Custom Made vs. Off-The-Shelf Mobile Apps – The Issue of Security
  2. You Can Build Apps for the Apple TV, But Do You Know How to Do It Securely?
  3. We Know Why 85% of Mobile Apps Suck in Security. Do You?
  4. 7 Reasons Why Testing the Security of Mobile Applications Is Crucial for Enterprises
  5. The Top 5 Mobile Application Security Issues You Need to Address When Developing Mobile Applications
  6. What Is a Mobile Application Containerization, or Wrapper, and Why Must It Die?
  7. Security Is Driving the Adoption of Connected Cars



You Might Be Interested in Reading These Articles

OpenSSL DROWN Vulnerability Affects Millions of HTTPS Websites and Software Supporting SSLv2 (CVE-2016-0800)

DROWN is caused by legacy OpenSSL SSLv2 protocol, known to have many deficiencies. Security experts have recommended to turn it off, but apparently many servers still support it because disabling SSLv2 requires non-default reconfiguration of the SSL cryptographic settings which is not easy for common IT people who have limited security knowledge and don’t know the location to disable this protocol and the way to disable it.

Continue reading ...

security bulletin blog

Published on April 12, 2016

Understanding the Importance and Value of Backend Security

We know that backend security is important, but what exactly constitutes the “backend?” To put it simply, the backend is the portion of a website, web application, or mobile application that exists behind the scenes. By contrast, the “frontend” of an application is everything that the user interacts with. This includes design features in the website or application, links, transactions, images, content, and others.

Continue reading ...

mobile security

Published on October 06, 2015

SeaCat and OpenSSL Heartbleed Bug

After almost two and a half year we hope that the Heartbleed remains in the past. It is not true, unfortunately. Now we have proof that a security vulnerability remains with us for a long time, maybe almost forever even when there exist patches and fixes. The Internet is a battlefield among the good, the bad, and the ugly. Who has better attacking or defending technology wins.

Continue reading ...

security

Published on December 20, 2016