Barclays deploys PINsentry to fight fraud
Chip-and-PIN marches into the home
Barclays has announced plans to send out handheld chip and PIN card readers to their online banking customers in a bid to combat online fraud.
The bank is to provide chip-and-PIN 'PINsentry' card readers to half a million customers in the UK, starting later this year.
Barclays online customers will be required to use the handheld device to generate a one-time passcode that will have to be entered at log-in and to run some online banking functions, such as setting up payments to new third party accounts. The device will only generate a passcode once the user's bank card has been swiped through it, and the PIN code entered. The approach will replace the need for passcodes and memorable words.
Barclays' approach is a refinement of two-factor authentication approaches already in use by some UK banks. Two years ago, for example, Lloyds TSB began trialling a token device which provided online banking customers with a one-time six digit passcode.
Security watchers praised Barclays' move as a step in the right direction, but warned that it would be a mistake to regard the extra security as foolprooof.
"Consumer confidence in online transactions and online banking has been waning and better safeguards, such as biometrics or smartcards needs to be considered by other banks," said Raimund Genes, CTO of internet security at anti-virus firm Trend Micro.
He added that banks in the Middle East are way ahead of their UK counterparts in implementing controls for online banking that go beyond simple password logins.
UK-based net security firm Sophos predicted that Barclays Chip-and-PIN devices would reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of fraud. PINsentry should reduce the risk posed by phishing emails and key-logging Trojans, but "man-in-the-middle" attacks still pose a credible risk to online bank customers, it warned.
Sophos senior technology consultant Graham Cluley said: "Including two-factor authentication in the online banking process is definitely better security - keyboard logging spyware and phishing emails won't be effective if user passcodes keep changing.
"However, these chip-and-pin devices do not prevent all identity theft - spyware can still steal screenshots of what bank customers are doing online and can capture account information to use for fraudulent purposes. More sophisticated hackers can even develop 'man-in-the-middle' attacks that sit in between users and their banks, automatically capturing information in real-time and sending unauthorised instructions to the bank [while] posing as the customer." ®
Re: ABN Amro using 2-factor authentication
Is the ABN Amro solution the same one that's currently listed on El Reg, because it's been circumvented via a MitM attack?
I keep my money in a shoebox underneath my mattress. There's no chance of a MitM attack happening without me being aware.
To clear up a couple of misunderstandings
The reader does not connect to the computer. It is used as an external means of getting one-time passwords based on the chip on your bank card. Therefore browser compatibility is not an issue. It also means that you have a real air-break between the device and the internet.
I'm not sure whether they are enabling the feature in this trial, but the readers also provide means to 'sign' a payment by keying in details and generating a hash. This is an effective defence against the man-in-the-middle attacks Sophos seem to be worried about.
It works well for online banking, since the bank can implement all the extra measures they want based on the standard. This at least prevents account take-overs. Whether it gets used by online retailers is a different matter. It's also a UK only standard, which means that it's unlikely that international online retailers would ever make use of it. Therefore it wouldn't prevent someone from using your card details to make purchases, except as an extension to something like the 'Verified by Visa' service.
Trend Micro wrong - Sophos better
"Consumer confidence in online transactions and online banking has been waning and better safeguards, such as biometrics or smartcards needs to be considered by other banks,"
Yeah! Thank you for pushing for the technology hype. What about using our brain for 5 secs?
Banking security doesn't need biometrics. Biometrics is for identification only, and in this case it is optional and not sufficient. It is easy to imagine scheme using biometrics (like most scheme today actually) that can't even counter phishing or man-in-the-middle attacks.
To counter 99.99% of current and future internet banking attacks, the only thing you need is a strong transaction authorisation scheme. Authorisation means "signature on the transaction *content*", i.e. integrity protection + non-repudiation.
How to do this? Easy! Example: 1 secure device, 1 secure display (for showing the content) and 1 secure input device (for signature). Like a small calculator with cryptographic keys. You enter the amount, you enter the target account, you enter your password, and you receive an authorisation code. The calculator is the token, the password is the authorisation step --> 2-way authentication.
Now, that is *really* secure! And actually very easy to deploy and use (you can take the calculator anywhere with you).
That banks just keep doing the wrong way is either a proof of their ignorance in the matter or their lack of will to really solve the issue.