Feeds

Verified by Visa bitchslapped by Cambridge researchers

More about pushing blame than preventing fraud

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Secondary credit card security systems for online transactions such as Verified by Visa are all about shifting blame rather then curtailing fraud, Cambridge University security researchers argue.

The 3D Secure system - branded as either Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode - has become a ubiquitous extra line of security for many online transactions, with over 200 million cardholders registered. The number of merchants who insist that users submit an additional password and re-submit a CVV code in order to authorise a transaction makes it hard to shop online without using the technology.

Cambridge researchers Professor Ross Anderson and Steven Murdoch ran a rule over 3D Secure and found it badly engineered in comparison with alternative schemes such as OpenID and InfoCard. Worse still, the scheme has become a target for phishing, partly because inconsistent authentication methods can leave customers confused.

An additional problem is that Verified by Visa passwords can be reset simply by knowing a cardholder's card details and date of birth, and DOBs are readily available on the public record (in the UK at least).

3D Secure's success in the marketplace is explained by the "strong incentives for adoption" set up by the scheme.

"Merchants who use it push liability for fraud back to banks, who in turn push it on to cardholders," Anderson and Murdoch argue.

"Properly designed single sign-on systems, like OpenID and InfoCard, can’t offer anything like this. So this is yet another case where security economics trumps security engineering, but in a predatory way that leaves cardholders less secure."

The Cambridge researchers are calling on bank regulators to step in and improve the scheme, suggesting a number of approaches to improve security and reduce fraud in a paper submitted to the Financial Cryptography conference in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
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
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
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
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
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
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?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.