Feeds

Microsoft begins 'Cardspace' publicity push

Card issuers and retailers getting on board

Website security in corporate America

A major card issuer is preparing to announce its support for Microsoft's new identity security system, Cardspace, in the new year, along with "a major consumer retail site", Microsoft said this week.

The company is also at the early stages of working out how the technology could be used to secure the UK's Government Gateway for tax and VAT filings.

Cardspace, the brainchild of Microsoft's Kim Cameron and others, is the latest proposal from Redmond for how to solve the problem of securing identity online. (It is bundled in Vista, and XP users can get hold of it through the automatic updates.)

Microsoft says the system will do for online credit card fraud what chip and PIN has done for cardholder present fraud. In a country where an estimated five per cent of all online transactions are fraudulent, that could have a significant impact.

Broadly speaking, the idea is to withold any of the details of your personal data - such as your credit card number - from the website you are doing business with, so that you conduct your transaction directly with the ID provider. In addition, the whole transaction takes place on a new desktop.

Microsoft's own motivation for developing the technology is absolutely, but indirectly commercial.

Jerry Fishenden, National Technology Officer for Microsoft UK, explains that around 30 per cent of the company's revenue comes from the business of people doing business online. If consumer confidence fails, he argues, that revenue is threatened. And poorly secured identity is what undermines consumer confidence.

Steve Plank, architectural engineer at Microsoft acknowledges that there is a limit to how much technology can do to solve the problem of secure identity.

"But think about a classic phishing attack: a phishing site wants your username and password. It captures this information, logs on to your bank and empties your account. With cardspace, that no longer happens," he argues.

"Imagine you end up on phisher's site, which asks for a cardspace login. Your user interface pops up, the card was issued by a genuine bank, and you authenticate with them, but the phisher's website gets nothing, because it is outside the whole transaction."

Microsoft sees a scenario in which cardspace-style authentication would reduce fraud rates by such a large degree that credit card issuers would be able to offer merchants a discount for using the technology. Part of this could be passed to the customer as a cash-back incentive.

There are Open Source versions of the technology in the works, and Microsoft says it will make its specifications open, if not the code itself. There are no plans as yet to develop a Mac version, but the team speaking to the media in London said it was something they would flag to the Mac development team. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.