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Technical Report

Cross-Browser Payment Initiation Attack

Abstract: This document describes a possible attack on payment flows utilizing a browser-based redirect flow to authenticate the user and gather her consent to initiate the payment. It is based on a security threat analysis of several PSD2 API standards conducted by OpenID Foundation’s Financial-grade API (FAPI) Working Group.

In the cross-browser payment initiation attack, Bob wants to make Alice pay for the goods he ordered at the web site of some merchant.

The causes for this vulnerability are

  • the lack of binding between the browser which initiated payment transaction (Bob’s browser) and the browser where the transaction was authorized (Alice’s browser) and
  • the fact the transaction is automatically initiated when the user authorized it before such a lack of binding could be detected.

This allows the attacker to prepare a transaction and remotely trick the victim into executing it. Since the attacker has all the details, it can benefit from the successful execution. That’s why this kind of attack is typically referred to as “session fixation”.

For more details, see the technical report on the Cross-Browser Payment Initiation Attack by the OpenID Foundation.