Starbucks

Starbucks has confirmed it stores users' information for its mobile app in plain text, leaving it vulnerable to hackers. (Starbucks / January 16, 2014)

  • Also
  • Apple settles FTC complaint over in-app sales for $32.5 million Apple settles FTC complaint over in-app sales for $32.5 million
  • Nearly a fifth of 2013 New York City thefts involved Apple devices Nearly a fifth of 2013 New York City thefts involved Apple devices
  • Apple, Samsung agree to try mediation in patent disputes Apple, Samsung agree to try mediation in patent disputes
  • Maps
  • Seattle, WA, United States

Starbucks has come under fire in the tech world this week for the security measures -- or lack thereof -- that it uses to protect user information stored within its mobile payment app.

Security researcher Daniel Wood published a report Monday that says Starbucks stores user passwords, email addresses, user names and GPS location files in plain text in its mobile payment app -- a claim that has been confirmed by the coffee company.

Potentially, this put users at risk should anyone steal their smartphone. By connecting the device to a computer, they could download all of the information above within 30 minutes, whether the smartphone is protected with a security code or not.

PHOTOS: Top 10 tech gadgets we want to see in 2014

"We were aware," Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman told Computerworld. "That was not something that was news to us."

Starbucks has chosen to keep users' information stored on their device in plain text because it makes using the app more convenient. Users simply log in once and can then use the app to pay for coffee without ever loggin in again.

Encrypting passwords and storing them in Starbucks' own, secure servers would ultimately result in users having to log in every time they want to use the app, much like users of mobile banking apps.

The potential for users to have their information exposed is limited -- they must first have their device stolen. But in an era when users are having their privacy compromised left and right (see: Snapchat, Target) it raises the question of whether Starbucks should do more to protect its users.

What do you think? Weigh in through the comments.

ALSO:

After months of struggles, Venice video start-up Viddy sold

Yahoo COO who clashed with Marissa Mayer is on his way out

NSA-proof smartphone? New Blackphone Android promises privacy