Chick-fil-A Restaurant chain investigates hack into credit card payment data

child hacker on line at screen image www.intelagencies.com

Chick-fil-A is investigating a possible breach of credit card data that occurred in mid-December.

Chicken sandwich chain Chick-fil-A is investigating a possible data breach at some of its restaurants, the company announced Friday, saying it was working with cybersecurity firms and federal law enforcement to determine whether its payment system was hacked.

In a terse statement, the fast food company said “payment industry contacts”, likely meaning credit card companies and banks, had reported suspicious activity on 19 December. After those initial reports, Chick-fil-A contacted authorities and cybersecurity companies to help investigate the activity, which it described only as “involving payment cards at a few restaurants”.

A spokesperson for the company declined to comment; the company’s statement declares it “premature for us to comment further given the pending investigation”.

Cybersecurity journalist and expert Brian Krebs first reported a possible breach in mid-December, saying that several financial institutions had traced the common point-of-purchase on cards with suspicious activity to Chick-fil-A locations. An anonymous source told Krebs that most of the restaurant locations affected were in a handful of states, including Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia and Texas.

Krebs believes a breach of Chick-fil-A’s locations would likely have affected only a fraction of the company’s nearly 2,000 restaurants. He compared the breach to those of other medium-sized chains, such as Dairy Queen, that use third-party companies to manage their purchase systems. In those cases, hackers installed malware in the third party’s point-of-sale (POS) software — the technology in a credit card terminal — allowing the thieves to steal data encoded on the back of cards.

If confirmed, the December breach would add to a year of similar attacks on major US corporations. In November, hackers installed malware on Home Depot’s self-checkout systems, netting them 53m emails and compromising 56m credit and debit card numbers. In December 2013, Krebs revealed a data breach of Target’s system; the company discovered that criminals had compromised personal information of about 110 million customers, and also likely used POS infiltration.
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In the digital arms race between authorities and hackers, corporations and security firms are struggling to keep pace. In September, the Ponemon Institute, a data protection research group, found that 43% of US firms had experienced a data breach in the past year. In October, a majority of experts told Pew Research they expected major cyber attacks to cause widespread harm in the next 10 years. And nearly two years ago, Symantec, the world’s largest antivirus software company, admitted that its technology could no longer defend against the most sophisticated cyber attacks.

With a wealth of credit card data and personal information, hackers can either create counterfeit cards or sell the information to others. Chick-fil-A said that if investigation confirms a data breach, customers will not be held liable for relevant charges, adding that it would arrange identity protection services for affected customers.

Krebs knocked down that offer “as a means of placating nervous customers”, and both he and Chick-fil-A encouraged customers keep a close eye on bank and card statements to look out for suspicious activity and possible identity theft.

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Henry Sapiecha

Stolen credit card details available for £1 each online

Guardian finds batch of 100 stolen cards on sale for £98 on ‘dark web’ amid heightened fears about identity theft in wake of TalkTalk hack

cyber attacker on dark keyboard image www.intelagencies.com

To bulk buy stolen data at lower prices, fraudsters head to the dark web via the Tor browser. Photograph: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Image

UK credit card details are on sale for as little £1 each online, the Guardian has learned, as fears rise over the security of personal data in the wake of the TalkTalk cyber-attack.

More than 600,000 individuals had their personal details stolen from UK companies in 2014, according to the Financial Times, underlining the scale of online crime in this country. It is likely that some of that data will have ended up on a website used by criminals wanting to buy high-end UK credit card data.

Visa and Mastercard details stolen on Tuesday were offered to the Guardian the following day – provided payment was made in the cypto-currency bitcoin – on a website which is registered in Russia but run in English.

The site did not reveal where the details were harvested from, but the ownership of the cards was clear. One credit card was registered to a person in Craigavon in north County Armagh; another belonged to a resident of Chelmsford, Essex, who lost their platinum Visa card earlier this week. Platinum cards are particularly attractive to fraudsters because of their high credit limit. Scores more card details, registered to addresses up and down the country, from Aberdeenshire to Devon, were openly for sale on the site.

The example of the Russian-registered site is striking because it is on the “surface” web, and easily available to conventional internet users. It has a high-end design and layout, offers customer support and promises an 80% success rate for the buyers of stolen cards. It sits at the luxury end of the identity theft market, and charges accordingly – it wanted $72 (£47) for each card sold to us.

To bulk buy stolen data at lower prices, however, fraudsters head to the dark web. This can be accessed via the Tor browser, rather than conventional browsers used by the vast majority of users. It bounces a connection through multiple encrypted relays before it hits its destination. This obscures where the site’s server is located, allowing would-be identity thieves to connect to hidden services, and sites not accessible to non-Tor users.

Searching through Tor, it is possible to access a site which will sell 100 credit cards (with the CVV2 digits – the three numbers on the reverse of the card) for just $150 (£98), around £1 per card. The site also sells PayPal accounts at $100 for 100, while other hidden services will offer €1,250 of counterfeited notes for €500. Free shipping is included.

Buying the stolen information is just the first step in a process that criminals use to convert digital data bought online into hard cash. The credit cards are used to load money onto easily obtained pre-paid debit cards. These are payment cards that function similar to credit cards, and can be used to shop online, but can be opened without the sort of checks wanted by banks when opening a current account.

These pre-paid debit cards are used to buy online gift cards. In turn, these gift cards are used to buy high-value electronics, such as iPhones or games consoles, which are sold at a discount – an iPhone 6S for $430 or an Xbox One for $240. That cash goes in the pocket.

But how do these dark websites get the data? A significant source of stolen information, particularly in the US, is old-fashioned card-skimming: a compromised terminal or company employee on the take, who steals the details of a card in the process of completing a transaction.

Just as common is the 21st-century equivalent: malware. This is the catch-all term for malevolent software that infects an individual’s computer to monitor communications for confidential information such as banking passwords, credit card details and social media logins. The data is uploaded to a central server where it is sold on or used to further spread the malware.

The Gameover Zeus malware, disrupted by a joint UK-US operation in June 2014, was one such attack. This acted as a form of “ransomware”, encrypting the infected computer and demanding payment in bitcoin to release the data.

The third major source of data for sale is large-scale hacks, of the type that was flagged by telecoms operator TalkTalk on 23 October. Sometimes the stolen information can be used directly, especially where the company has irresponsibly stored credit card data or passwords on their servers in plaintext; or it may be used as the first step in stealing someone’s identity, where information from two or more hacks is linked to build a profile that can be used to apply for bank accounts or credit cards.

TalkTalk boss: we’re unsure how many customers were affected by cyber-attack – video

Security experts call the organised criminal hacks “advanced persistent threats”. But the attack on TalkTalk has left researchers bemused. A 15-year-old boy from Northern Ireland is on police bail in connection with the cyber-attack, while on Friday a 16-year-old boy was arrested in London.

TalkTalk appears to have been the victim of a relatively amateur and opportunistic hack, according to experts. The company’s chief executive, Dido Harding, said the perpetrator exploited a “sequential injection” attack. Security researchers, realising she meant to say “SQL injection” – a common form of attack in which a hacker tricks the website into releasing information from a database – had a field day.

“It’s not the lowest-hanging fruit of all,” said David Enn, a researcher at information security firm Kaspersky. “But certainly in terms of attacking core infrastructure of the business, we’re not looking at a concerted, targeted attack. What you’re talking about here is like managing to sneak through the security barrier just by slipstreaming an employee.”

TalkTalk declined to discuss its defences in detail, given the ongoing police investigation, but said it continually invested in improving its systems, and constantly monitored and scanned its network to detect any weaknesses.

“We defend against all manner of attacks on a day by day basis,” a statement said. “Each day we have to block over 170m scamming emails to our customers, and we block over 1m nuisance calls to our customers each day.

“It is a constantly evolving fight against cybercrime and individual companies on their own can’t tackle this problem.”

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Henry Sapiecha

How Hackers Found a Way to Thwart Chip and PIN Credit Cards

Make no mistake, the tech is not invulnerable.

credit card closeup blue image www.creditcardseasy.net

After years of preparation, chip and PIN credit cards are finally arriving in the United States. But while a chip and PIN might be much more secure than a signature, hackers have shown that it’s not invulnerable, and now we know how they pulled it off.

As Ars Technica reports, a number of chip and PIN cards were stolen in France back in 2011, and somehow, the fraudsters who took them were able to start using them in Belgium, despite the security enhancements that credit card companies are wont to hold up as unimpeachable. Security researchers expressed their doubts about the tech as early as 2010, but the incident in Belgium was the first (and so far only) instance of an actual exploit.

Now, the researchers behind the investigation have published a paper that explains how the hack worked. At least as well as they can tell; the actual cards are still untouchable due to being evidence in a criminal proceeding. As Ars Technica explains:

The fraudsters were able to perform a man-in-the-middle attack by programming a second hobbyist chip called a FUN card to accept any PIN entry, and soldering that chip onto the card’s original chip. This increased the thickness of the chip from 0.4mm to 0.7mm, “making insertion into a PoS somewhat uneasy but perfectly feasible,” the researchers write.

Essentially, that small extra chip would sit between the card’s actual chip and the point of sale, and assure both sides that everything about the transaction was on the up-and-up, even though it wasn’t.

The problem is solvable, the regulators behind the chip and PIN system say it’s already been solved. But that a vulnerability was present at all is still troubling. The all-around weakness of signature based authentication meant that credit card companies had little choice but to eat the cost of plausible and frequent fraud. But if those same companies hold up chip and PIN as infallible, it could make claiming fraud much harder or virtually impossible.

Yes, chip and PIN will hopefully make credit card fraud much rarer, but if credit card companies continue to treat it as fool-proof when it very well may not be, the next vulnerability could prove very expensive for the victims.

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Henry Sapiecha

CREDIT CARD NEW TECHNOLOGY BRINGS WITH IT A SET OF PROBLEMS

new credit and debit cards image www.creditcardseasy.net

Millions of Americans are getting new credit and debit cards with more secure chip technology, and that’s already leading to headaches for companies that rely on working cards to charge their customers every month.

Video and music streaming companies, dating websites, gyms and other subscription-based companies can take a hit when customers don’t update their accounts after receiving a new card. It’s always been a hassle, but with millions of cards carrying the new being mailed out all at once it’s creating bigger problems.

Netflix this week said large numbers of cards that weren’t updated were partly to blame for slower subscriber growth in their most recent quarter.

The video steaming site said Wednesday that an unusual number of accounts were cancelled during the three months that ended in September. Netflix Inc., which has 69 million members around the world, expects the issue to continue into the next quarter as more new chip cards roll out.

With subscription services gaining in popularity, where customers have funds automatically withdrawn from checking accounts every month for a service, it has become increasingly noticeable when people don’t update the cards that they use for those services, or are unaware that they need to.

Often, the number on the card is still the same, but the expiration date has changed, said Matt Schulz, a senior analyst at credit card comparison site CreditCards.com. Typically, payments won’t go through if the expiration date is different.

Recurly, a San Francisco company that manages bill payments for more than 1,900 subscription businesses, said it has seen a slight increase in card declines. Recurly uses a service for its clients that automatically updates when new card numbers are issued, so the customer doesn’t have to do it themselves, said CEO Dan Burkhart, though not every bank participates in the service. Burkhart said subscription companies will face some “turbulence” as customers get new cards, but those issues typically resolve within a few months.

The problem has hurt Netflix before.

A year ago, the Los Gatos, California, company said a number of customer’s accounts were put on hold due to The Home Depot data breach, which forced many customers who shopped at the home improvements store to get new credit cards.

Similarly, IAC/InterActiveCorp, a New York company which owns dating websites such as Match.com and OkCupid, said last year that credit that were not updated after major security breaches at Target and Home Depot cost it about $5 million in earnings for the year before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

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Henry Sapiecha

Apple Pay bridging bricks-and-mortar and online credit card fraud

The Apple Watch will be able to make payments using Apple Pay.

The Apple Watch will be able to make payments using Apple Pay. Photo: Reuters

Lost amid the Apple media firestorm these past few weeks is a stark and rather unsettling reality.

Apple Pay – the company’s answer to a mobile (and wearable) wallet – makes it possible for cyber thieves to buy high-priced merchandise from bricks-and-mortar stores using stolen credit and debit card numbers that were until now only useful for online fraud.

To understand what’s going on here, a quick primer on card fraud first: If you’re a fraudster and you wish to walk into a big retailer and walk out with a big screen TV or Xbox console on someone else’s dime, you’re going to buy “dumps” which are data stolen straight off the magnetic stripe on the backs of cards.

Typically, dumps are stolen via malware planted on point-of-sale devices, as in the breaches at brick-and-mortar stores like TargetHome Depot and countless others over the past year. Dumps buyers encode the data onto new plastic cards, which they then use in-store at retailers and walk out with armloads full of high-priced goods that can be easily resold for cash. The average price of a single dump is between $US10-$30, but the payoff in stolen merchandise per card is often many times that amount.

SOME 8 WAYS TO SEE IF YOUR CREDIT CARD IS BEING SCAMMED BELOW-CLICK LINK

http://creditcardseasy.net/2015/01/21/credit-card-fraud-eight-ways-to-get-your-info-hijacked/

When fraudsters want to order something online using stolen credit cards, they go buy what the crooks call “CVVs” — card data stolen from hacked online stores. CVV stands for “card verification code,” and refers to the three-digit code on the back of cards that’s required for most online transactions. Fraudsters buying CVVs get the credit card number, the expiration date, the card verification code, as well as the cardholder’s name, address and phone number. Because they’re less versatile than dumps, CVVs cost quite a bit less — typically around $US1-$5 per stolen account.

So in summary, dumps are stolen from main-street merchants, and are sought after by crooks mainly for use at main street merchants. CVVs, on the other hand, are stolen from online stores, and are useful only for fraud against online stores.

Enter Apple Pay, which potentially erases that limitation of CVVs because it allows users to sign up online for an in-store payment method for their iPhone or Watch using little more than a hacked card account and CVVs. That’s because most banks that are enabling Apple Pay for their customers do little, if anything, to require that customers prove they have the physical card in their possession.

Avivah Litan, a fraud analyst with Gartner, explained in a blog post published earlier this month that Apple provides banks with a fair amount of data to aid in their efforts at “identity proofing” the customer, such as the customer’s device name, its current geographic location, and whether or not the customer has a long history of transactions with iTunes.

All useful data points, of course, unless the iTunes account that all of this information is based on is hijacked by fraudsters. And as we know from previous stories, there is a robust cybercrime underground trade for hijacked iTunes accounts, which retail for about $US8 each.

Litan’s column continues:

“Interestingly, neither Apple nor the banks get any useful identity information out of the mobile carriers – at least that I know or heard of. And mobile carrier data could be particularly helpful with identity proofing. For example the banks could compare the mobile service’s billing address with the card account holder’s billing address.

“For years, we have been briefed by vendors offering a plethora of innovative and strong user authentication solutions for mobile payments and commerce. And for years, we have been asking the vendors touting them how they know their mobile app is being provisioned to a legitimate user rather than a fraudster. That always appeared to me to be the weakest link in mobile commerce –making sure you provide the app to the right person instead of a crook.

“Identity proofing in a non-face-to-face environment is anything but easy but there are some decent solutions around that can be stitched together to significantly narrow down the population of fraudulent transactions and identities. The key is reducing reliance on static data – much of which is PII data that has been compromised by the crooks – and increasing reliance on dynamic data, like reputation, behavior and relationships between non-PII data elements.

“This problem is only going to get worse as Samsung’s LoopPay and the MCX/CurrentC (supported by Walmart, BestBuy and many other major US retailers) release their mobile payment systems, without the customer data advantages Apple has in their relatively closed environment.”

Sure, the banks could pressure Apple Pay to make their users take a picture of their credit cards with the iPhone and upload that data before signing up. That might work for a short while to deter fraud, at least until the people at underground document forgery sites like Scanlab see a new market for their services.

But in the end, most banks coming online with Apple Pay are still using customer call centers to validate new users, leveraging data that can be purchased very cheaply from underground identity theft sites. If any of you doubt how easy it is to buy personal data on just about anyone, check out the story I wrote in December 2014, wherein I was able to find the name, address, Social Security number, previous address and phone number on all current members of the US Senate Commerce Committee.

The irony here is that while Apple Pay has been touted as a more secure alternative to paying with a credit card, the way Apple and the banks have implemented it actually makes card fraud cheaper and easier for fraudsters.

Even more deliciously ironic, as noted in Cherian Abraham’s insightful column at Droplabsis how much of the fraud stemming from crooks signing up stolen credit cards with Apple Pay was tied to purchases of high-dollar Apple products at Apple’s own brick-and-mortar stores. That banks end up eating the fraud costs from this activity is just the cherry on top.

Abraham said the banks are in this mess because they didn’t demand more transparency and traceability from Apple before rushing to sign customers up (or “provision” them, in banker-speak) for Apple Pay.

“One of the biggest gripes I have heard from issuers is the lack of transparency from Apple (what did they expect?) and the makeshift reporting provided to issuers that is proving to be woefully inadequate,” Abraham wrote. “As long as issuers fall back on measures easily circumvented by freely available PII – this problem will continue to leech trust and large sums of cash. And alongside of the latter, there is much blame to go around as well.”

Both Abraham and Gartner’s Litan say banks need to take a step back and take the time to develop more robust, thoughtful and scalable solutions to identity proofing customers, particularly as other mobile providers begin rolling out their mobile payment systems without the customer data advantages that Apple has in their relatively closed environment.

“The vendors in the mobile user authentication space have consistently answered that they are leaving account provisioning policies to the banks or other consumer service providers provisioning the apps,” Litan wrote. “Well maybe it’s time for them to reconsider and start helping their client banks and service providers by supporting identity proofing solutions built into their apps. Whoever does this well is surely going to win lots of customer support… and revenue.”

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Henry Sapiecha

CREDIT CARD FRAUD & EIGHT WAYS TO GET YOUR INFO HIJACKED

Data: Credit card fraud isn't always apparent to card holders, and banks don't always share information about an incident.

Data: Credit card fraud isn’t always apparent to card holders, and banks don’t always share information about an incident. Photo: Karl Hilzinger
Unaware of credit card fraud until the statement arrives or the bank rings? Here are eight ways tech-savvy criminals can get your details from shops, ATMs and other systems.

Card issuers like Visa and MasterCard often know if merchants have suffered a breach before even the banks or the merchant itself, but they rarely reveal their names to the banks. Rather, in response to a breach, card issuers will send each affected bank a list of compromised card numbers often triggering their cancellation.

Banks may be able to work backwards from that list to the breached merchant, however, in cases where hacked merchants are known rarely is that information shared with their customers.

Here’s a look at some of the most common forms of credit card fraud:

1. Hacked bricks-and-mortar merchant, restaurant:

Here criminals capture credit card details most often by remotely installing malicious software on point-of-sale systems – the software that controls a shop’s payments and inventory.

Distinguishing characteristic: Most common and costly source of card fraud. Losses are high because crooks can take information from multiple cards and produce counterfeit cards that can be used in big box stores to buy gift cards and/or expensive goods that can be easily resold for cash.

Chances of consumer learning source of fraud: Low, depending on customer card usage.

2. Processor breach:

This is a network compromise at a company that processes transactions between credit card issuing banks and merchant banks. One such breach occurred in 2012 and involved some 10 million card numbers.

Distinguishing characteristic: High volume of card accounts can be stolen in a very short time.

Chances of consumer learning source of fraud: Virtually nil. Processor breaches are rare compared to retail break-ins, but it’s also difficult for banks to trace back fraud on a card to a processor. Card issuers/banks generally don’t tell consumers when they do know.

3. Hacked point-of-sale service company/vendor:

This is a compromise at the supplier of the point-of-sale system, not the merchant.

Distinguishing characteristic: Can be time-consuming for banks and card issuers to determine vendor responsible. Fraud is generally localised to a specific town or geographic region served by vendor.

Chances of consumer learning source of fraud: Low, given that compromised point-of-sale service company or vendor does not have a direct relationship with the card holder or issuing bank.

4. Hacked e-commerce merchant:

A database or website compromise at an online merchant.

Distinguishing characteristic: Results in online fraud. Consumer likely to learn about fraud from monthly statement, incorrectly attribute fraud to merchant where unauthorised transaction occurred. Bank customer service representatives are trained not to give out information about the breached online merchant, or address information associated with the fraudulent order.

Chances of consumer learning source of fraud: Nil to low.

5. ATM or other skimmer:

Thieves attach physical fraud devices to ATMs, gas pumps and other card readers to steal card numbers and PINs. For more on skimmers, see All About Skimmers series.

Distinguishing characteristic: Fraud can take many months to figure out. Often tied to gang activity.

Chances of consumer learning source of fraud: High. Banks often disclose to cardholder the source of the fraud.

6. Crook employee:

A case often associated with small car hire outlets, motels and restaurants, it involves an employee using a hidden or handheld device to copy card for later counterfeiting.

Distinguishing characteristic: Most frequently committed by restaurant workers. Often tied to a local crime rings, or seasonal and transient workers.

Chances of consumer learning source of fraud: Nil to low.

7. Lost or stolen card:

Distinguishing characteristic: The smallest source of fraud on cards. Consumer generally knows immediately or is alerted by bank to suspicious transactions, which often involve small fraudulent test transactions to see if the card is still active – such as at automated gas station pumps in the US.

Chances of consumer learning source of fraud: High.

8. Record theft:

Merchant, government agency or some other entity charged with storing and protecting card data improperly disposes of card account records.

Distinguishing characteristic: Usually not high-volume. A form of fraud less common than it used to be.

Chances of consumer learning source of fraud: Nil to low.

It’s clear from the above that most consumers are unlikely to discover the true source or reason for any card fraud. It’s far more important for cardholders to keep a close eye on their statements for unauthorised charges, and to report that activity as quickly as possible.

OOO

Henry Sapiecha

Fraud-proof credit cards now possible with quantum physics

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2014–Credit card fraud and identify theft are serious problems for consumers and industries. Though corporations and individuals work to improve safeguards, it has become increasingly difficult to protect financial data and personal information from criminal activity. Fortunately, new insights into quantum physics may soon offer a solution.

As reported in The Optical Society’s (OSA) new high-impact journal Optica, a team of researchers from the Netherlands has harnessed the power of quantum mechanics to create a fraud-proof method for authenticating a physical “key” that is virtually impossible to thwart.

This innovative security measure, known as Quantum-Secure Authentication, can confirm the identity of any person or object, including debit and credit cards, even if essential information (like the complete structure of the card) has been stolen. It uses the unique quantum properties of light to create a secure question-and-answer (Q&A) exchange that cannot be “spoofed” or copied.

optica symbol card defraud block system image www.creditcardseasy.net

A team of researchers from the Netherlands has harnessed the power of quantum mechanics to create a fraud-proof method for authenticating a physical ‘key’ that is virtually impossible to thwart. Credit: The Optical Society (OSA) and MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, Complex Photonic Systems Department of the University of Twente

creditkarmaelegantwoman image www.creditcardseasy.net

The “Question-and-Answer” Security Game

Traditional magnetic-stripe-only cards are relatively simple to use but also simple to copy. Recently, banks have begun issuing so-called “smart cards” that include a microprocessor chip to authenticate, identify and enhance security. But regardless of how complex the code or how many layers of security, the problem remains that an attacker who obtains the information stored inside the card can copy or emulate it.

The new approach outlined in this paper avoids this risk entirely by using the peculiar quantum properties of photons that allow them to be in multiple locations at the same time to convey the authentication questions and answers. Though difficult to reconcile with our everyday experiences, this strange property of light can create a fraud-proof Q&A exchange, like those used to authorize credit card transactions.

“Single photons of light have very special properties that seem to defy normal behavior,” said Pepijn Pinkse, a researcher from the University of Twente and lead author on the paper. “When properly harnessed, they can encode information in such a way that prevents attackers from determining what the information is.”

The process works by transmitting a small, specific number of photons onto a specially prepared surface on a credit card and then observing the tell-tale pattern they make. Since — in the quantum world — a single photon can exist in multiple locations, it becomes possible to create a complex pattern with a few photons, or even just one.

Due to the quantum properties of light, any attempt by a hacker to observe the Q&A exchange would, as physicists say, collapse the quantum nature of the light and destroy the information being transmitted. This makes Quantum-Secure Authentication unbreakable regardless of any future developments in technology.

Making Cards Quantum Secure

To provide security in the real world, a credit card — for example — would be equipped with a paper-thin section of white paint containing millions of nanoparticles. Using a laser, individual photons of light are projected into the paint where they bounce around the nanoparticles like metal balls in a pinball machine until they escape back to the surface, creating the pattern used to authenticate the card.

If “normal” light is projected onto the area, an attacker could measure the entering pattern and return the correct response pattern. A bank would therefore not be able to see a difference between the real card and the counterfeit signal projected by the attacker.

However, if a bank sends a pattern of single “quantum” photons into the paint, the reflected pattern would appear to have more information – or points of light – than the number of photons projected. An attacker attempting to intercept the “question” would destroy the quantum properties of the light and capture only a fraction of the information needed to authenticate the transaction.

“It would be like dropping 10 bowling balls onto the ground and creating 200 separate impacts,” said Pinkse. “It’s impossible to know precisely what information was sent (what pattern was created on the floor) just by collecting the 10 bowling balls. If you tried to observe them falling, it would disrupt the entire system.”

massive vault for money image www.money-au.com

Quantum, But Not Difficult

According to Pinkse, this unique way of providing security is suitable for protecting government buildings, bank cards, credit cards, identification cards, and even cars. “The best thing about our method is that secrets aren’t necessary. So they can’t be filched either,” he said.

Quantum-Secure Authentication could be employed in numerous situations relatively easily, since it uses simple and cheap technology — such as lasers and projectors — that is already available.

ooo

Henry Sapiecha

CREDIT CARD CHARGES TO BE SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCED

eftpos machine in use image www.creditcardeasy.net

Retailers would reportedly be limited to charging consumers 12 cents or 0.5 per cent of the transaction value, whichever is less. Photo: Pat Scala

Exorbitant credit card surcharges could soon be a thing of the past.

The financial services inquiry led by David Murray is reportedly calling for a ban on all outrageous surcharges on credit and debit card transactions.

Instead, retailers would be limited to 12 cents or 0.5 per cent of the transaction value, whichever is less, News Corp reports on Friday.

Many now charge two or three per cent on top of the purchase price if customers pay with credit card.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said recommendations around the payments system are more likely to be matters for independent regulators APRA and the Reserve Bank to consider.

The government would focus on consumer protection and education.

The Murray inquiry will be released publicly on Sunday.

Mr Murray, a former chief of the Commonwealth Bank and head of the Future Fund, and his team have been working on the inquiry for almost a year.

They have received more than 6,500 submissions since their interim report, 5000 of which touched on the issue of credit card surcharges.

Consumer advocate Choice says businesses, particularly in hospitality and the entertainment industry, have long been gouging consumers.

“Consider that on a flight you’re not just paying by transaction, $7 or $8, you’re paying per passenger,” spokesman Tom Godfrey told ABC radio.

“Airlines for a very long time have been profiteering on the back of credit card surcharges.”

More to come 

AAP

Henry Sapiecha

‘Sorry, Mr President …’ Barack Obama’s credit card declined

obama concerned look image www.creditcardseasy.net

The buck stops here: It even happens to the President of the United States. Photo: AP

Washington: Even the president of the United States can have trouble with his credit card.

Barack Obama said on Friday his card was declined at a New York restaurant he patronised while visiting the United Nations.

“I was there during the General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,” Mr Obama said at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he unveiled new measures to stem credit card fraud and identity theft.

“I guess I don’t use it enough.

“So they thought there was some fraud going on,” he said to laughter, adding, “fortunately, Michelle had hers.”

Mr Obama signed an executive order that adds “chip-and-pin” protection for US government cards and payment terminals as the financial sector implements similar moves.

“I was trying to explain to the waitress, ‘no, I really think I’ve been paying my bills’,” Mr Obama said.

“Even I’m affected by this.”

Henry Sapiecha

EASY WAY TO PREVENT CREDIT CARD RIPOFF FRAUD

Consumers are being warned about fraud possibilities with pay-and-go credit cards.

CREDIT CARD COVER IMAGE www.creditdcardseasy.net

Good quality tin foil could be the difference between losing money to credit card fraud or keeping your cash secure.

Contactless card technology might make going through the checkout slightly faster but it also exposes people as it can be used by fraudsters to covertly steal money from a card while it is in a pocket or handbag.

Edith Cowan’s digital forensics lecturer Peter Hannay said that while Mastercard was not aware of any cases happening he would not be surprised if it was happening but there were ways to protect yourself.

Contactless cards have several different names but they are bank cards that are placed next to a machine in order to carry out a quick transaction – rather than swiping or inserting the card.

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Mr Hannay said ECU research showed it was possible for people to use technology to interact with the radio frequency identification microchip that makes the contactless cards work.

He believed current technology would allow interaction within close proximity of those carrying the tap-and-go cards, which would allow card details to be obtained.

The technology required would be obvious but could be hidden within a large briefcase.

“Brushing up against someone on a train, it’s not difficult to achieve on a train in peak hour, it’s not that obvious,” Mr Hannay said.

He said employing the technology from a distance of several metres would require much larger and obvious antennas.

Mr Hannay said the only thing that could block signals between contactless bank cards and other devices was magnetic metal.

He suggested good quality foil, not the cheap stuff found in local supermarkets, was best to use.

Several products were already on the market, such as shields or sleeves, and they had tested well.

Mr Hannay said that while he did not expect technology to make it any easier for criminals to access people’s bank cards, he did expect such fraud cases to become more common as the technology was embedded in new cards.

“A couple of my colleagues who have got new cards have asked about it and they’ve been told that if they want a bank card, they have no choice,” Mr Hannay said.

Mastercard Australasia’s head of global fraud management Joseph Vukasovic said the company had not been made aware of any incidents of electronic pick-pocketing anywhere in the world.

He said that data drawn from a card in someone’s pocket was “effectively rendered useless” because additional information was required to use those details to make an online purchase, including the CVV code.

While major retailers and most other online outlets require the buyer to enter the CVV code to make a purchase, not all do.

Mr Vukasovic questioned why thieves would go to such lengths to obtain details from a card electronically.

“Every time you shop, that data is on there anyway, why would someone invest so much to get these details that are available to anyone who sees that card,” he said.

Mr Vukasovic said technology called CVC3 was built into the chip to increase a card’s security.

Mastercard’s security factsheet on their PayPass technology describes how the CVC3 technology makes it nearly impossible to “replay transactions because a code that accompanies an authorisation request changes every time an authorisation request is made”.

“There is a discrete authentication code that changes after each transaction,” the factsheet states.

“Without the proper code the transaction will not be authorised.”

Henry Sapiecha