Feeds

Verified by Visa bitchslapped by Cambridge researchers

More about pushing blame than preventing fraud

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

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. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
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
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
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.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.