Feeds

Barclays' chip and PIN readers will work for other banks

PINsentry will read all APACS-standard cards

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Barclays Bank is introducing a handheld chip and PIN card reader for the home in an escalation of its online banking security. Other chip and PIN cards will work with the Barclays device, not just cards issued by Barclays.

Barclays has designed its system in accordance with standards issued by payment association APACS. Barclays says it will be the first deployment of its kind in the UK for personal banking customers. By conforming to the APACS standard the reader can be used as part of any system also using those standards. Not all chip and PIN cards conform to the standard at present.

In July the bank will begin sending half a million card readers to its home users. It is not charging customers for the devices, which it is calling PINsentry. They will be compulsory for those who wish to transfer money to third party bank accounts.

"The remaining customers will not need PINsentry at this stage – it will only be needed by those who use online banking to set up payments out of their account to a new third party for the first time," said a Barclays statement. "Customers who simply wish to use online banking to view their accounts and pay bills or established payees will be able to continue to use online banking as normal without the need for PINsentry."

A Barclays spokeseman told OUT-LAW that the card readers, manufactured by Dutch security specialist Gemalto, will be sent to other customers who request one, even if they do not transfer money to third party bank accounts.

First transactions to third party accounts are being targeted for extra security because that is the outlet for any stolen money should a thief break into someone's online bank account.

When a customer inserts a card into the PINsentry reader and enters the correct PIN, the device will generate an eight digit number. That number must be typed in to the bank's website. For security, the card reader will not connect to a computer. For visually-impaired users, a larger card reader will be available that includes a loud speaker and a headphone jack.

PINsentry users will be asked to enter the eight digit number at login, even just to view account details. This means that to access their account details at work, customers must carry the readers with them. Upon instructing a transfer to a third party account for the first time, the user will be asked to generate another number and enter that number too.

Barclays' approach addresses the threat of a "man-in-the-middle" attack. In such attacks an email purporting to come from Barclays is sent to a customer, encouraging that person to visit the fraudster's website, which will be a copy of Barclays' genuine site. The customer might enter a number generated by PINsentry upon request and the fraudster – i.e. the man in the middle – immediately keys that number into the genuine site. This lets the attacker view the victim's account balance. But money transfers are impossible unless, in the same visitor session, the attacker obtains another PINsentry-generated number. Asking for a second PINsentry number is more likely to raise the account holder's suspicions.

The Barclays spokesman confirmed that the device would be compatible with other systems, including other banking systems. "It is future proof. It is ready for use in other systems," he said. "It is also ready for other kinds of security, so it has other buttons on it that are not used just now but can be used for things like challenge and response security."

Four customers of Dutch bank ANB AMRO lost money in man-in-the-middle attacks, it emerged earlier this week. The bank uses a two-factor authentication system but its number-generating fobs were required at the point of login only. The bank compensated its consumers for undisclosed losses.

APACS also confirmed that the Barclays device will be usable by security systems other than Barclays'. "The reasoning behind that is because research into the card market shows that we have on average four cards each, and in a few years' time we don't want a situation where we have four different card readers and we have to work out which one to use," APACS spokesman Mark Bowman said.

"Any reader can read any card," said Bowman of readers that follow the APACS standards. "It is mix and match."

The system is expected to be adopted by some retailers as well as by other banks as online payment firms look to make systems ever more secure.

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.