Feeds

Send dosh (insecurely) via email, Jack Dorsey's Square tells punters

TLS can secure financial transactions ... right?

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Not content with revolutionising shopping as we know it, uber-cool money-transfer outfit Square has launched a peer-to-peer payment system – secured only by an SMTP password.

Square – the payment firm developed by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey – has debuted a new service, Square Cash, which authorises transactions with an email. You just email the recipient, CCing cash@square.com, and specify the quantity of cash to be moved in the subject line.

The money is deducted from one's debit or credit card (which must be registered with the service – either in advance or Square sends you instructions to do so) and credited to the recipient, who'll be asked to provide one if not already registered. The key to securing Square transactions, however, is that their security depends entirely on the impossibility of forging an email message.

Looks genuine to me

Square apparently wanted to simplify the process of sending and receiving money, and, having decided that secure credentials are a bit of a faff, thought email should be sufficiently secure to authorise payments totalling up to $2,500 a week. As an SMS is sent to the payee every time money is deducted, they've plenty of time to dispute a payment during the 1-2 business days it takes to process.

Forging emails isn't as trivial as it used to be some years ago, when one could telnet into an SMTP server and spit out a mail from anyone. These days SMTP servers commonly require a username and password, and use Transport Layer Security, but you might not wish to bet your bank account on it.

Square has a history of playing fast and loose with security, touting an iPhone-based magnetic-stripe card reader without any obvious security features, but if the company can get away with it in most cases, then the security is probably good enough.

Square Cash transactions will be free, but the showstopper may be those two business days it takes for transactions to be credited to the recipient's account, while services such as PingIt can do the same thing in less than 24 hours. ®

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.