Feeds

Verified by Visa bitchslapped by Cambridge researchers

More about pushing blame than preventing fraud

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

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. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
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
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
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.
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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
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.