Feeds

The GIMP threatens PIN number security

Linux image manipulation black ops

Security for virtualized datacentres

This must be a first: Linux image manipulation programme the GIMP has been fingered as a possible tool in uncovering people's PIN numbers as sent through the post. It's not all open source gloom, though, Photoshop can also be used to, in certain circumstances, enhance illicitly-obtained printed PIN numbers.

That, at least, is the conclusion of University of Cambridge reserachers who looked at the tamper-proof stationery used to deliver said numbers to expectant punters. Team member Mike Bond first became suspicious when he was "sent a new pin and found that poor printing meant it was readable with the naked eye", the BBC reports.

This was despite techniques such as secure envelopes which make it obvious if someone has opened them, and peel-off labels designed to obscure printed numbers.

Mr Bond explained that, for example: "You are printing black toner on to a background pattern that is supposed to disguise it," but that: "If you add too little you cannot read it but too much will make it stand out."

The Cambridge staionery-busters were able, using a variety of techniques including the good-old "shining bright lights at an angle to the paper" and the simple scan-and-adjust ploy noted above, to defeat many of the banks' best-laid security plans.

Mr Bond admitted: "We were surprised that it could be done so easily. We're concerned as academics and outside parties that other people are going to be spotting this too and start working towards fraud."

The banks, though, are not overly concerned. A spokeswoman for Apacs told the BBC that little fraud had resulted from the reading of PIN numbers from secure stationery, noting: "A pin has no value without the card." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.