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11/11/2008
05:37 PM
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Visa Tests Credit Card With Random Number Generator

Built-in second factor of authentication could slow online card fraud

Visa is testing a new credit card that can generate a random-number passcode to help ensure it won't be used by unauthorized individuals.

In trials starting this week at four banks -- Bank of America UK, Corner Bank in Switzerland, Cal in Israel, and IW Bank in Italy -- Visa and EMUE Technologies are testing a Visa PIN card, an alternative to the "CCV" code currently printed on the back of most cards to help ensure that the individual is actually in possession of the card. The technology was first introduced in June.

An alphanumeric display and keypad is built directly into the card. When making a transaction online, customers type their PIN into the card, which creates a one-time security code. That code can be entered into a Website or given to a phone operator to help reduce "card-not-present" (CNP) fraud, the companies said. The card features a battery that lasts three years.

A number of banks have expressed interest in the card since its introduction this past summer, according to Visa. "The interest in this solution in the industry has been overwhelming," said Sandra Alzetta, head of innovation and new products at Visa Europe. "We look forward to working with the banks involved in the pilots to gain greater insights into how effective this solution can be in the longer term."

Visa has experimented with other CCV replacement schemes, including Verified by Visa, an ill-fated process that was found to be flawed -- hackers were sometimes able to reset the password by stealing the card's details and the user's birth date.

Security experts pointed out that the new card is still vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks, in which the attacker sets up a false site and fools the user into giving away a valid PIN. But officials at EMUE say that the cards could be loaded with digital signature technology, which would make attacks much more difficult.

The trials will go for six to 12 months, raising the possibility that the technology might be more widely available late next year.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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