Researchers at Wandera, a mobile security company, have alerted Apple to a potential security vulnerability in iOS that could be used by attackers to fool users into giving up their credit card data and personal information. The vulnerability, based on the default behavior of iOS devices with Wi-Fi turned on, could be used to inject a fake "captive portal" page that imitates the Apple Pay interface.
The attack leverages a well-known issue Ars has reported on in the past: iOS devices with Wi-Fi turned on will attempt by default to connect to any access point with a known SSID. Those SSIDs are broadcast by "probe" messages from the device whenever it's not connected to a network.
The Wandera attack uses this behavior to get a mobile device to connect and then presents a pop-up portal page—the type usually used when connecting to a public WiFi service to present a Web-based login screen—that is designed to resemble an Apple Pay screen for entering credit card data. The attack could be launched by someone nearby a customer who has just completed or is conducting an Apple Pay transaction so that the user is fooled into believing Apple Pay itself is requesting that credit card data is reentered. An attacker could loiter near a point-of-sale system with an Apple Pay terminal and continuously launch the attack.