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PINs Stolen In Target Breach
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SubtleLogic
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SubtleLogic,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/31/2013 | 9:46:16 PM
re: PINs Stolen In Target Breach
Uh, the current standards in the financial industry dictate the use of triple DES for encrypting PINs so this not something Target chooses to use, nor would any security or PCI audit have any problems with this.

It's still not trivial to crack TDES encryption, and the end result would only be one PIN. The effort is not worth it, especially when the unprotected track data can be used so easily.

Too many "experts" offering opinions on the Target hack.
Mark Bower
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Mark Bower,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/3/2014 | 1:26:04 AM
re: PINs Stolen In Target Breach
Unless the attackers have the keys from every device, which is very unlikely, retrieving PIN numbers will be impossible for all intents and purposes, even to determined attackers. Correctly implemented Triple-DES is still resilient to brute force attacks with 168-bits of encryption strength. It should not be confused with Single-DES 56 bit encryption. To retrieve PIN's an attacker would need to physically retrieve each unique PIN encryption key from every PIN entry device - quite a challenge. The devices for PIN entry are also likely PCI-PTS (and card scheme) validated which ensures physical and logical tamper detection is effective to erase PIN keys and other sensitive data in the event of detected compromise such as device being drilled into, put into a spurious operating condition and so on.

Strong PIN encryption has been with us for some time, and encrypted PIN's are routinely transmitted over open networks. It is well defined in ANSI standards and proven. The point of encryption is to protect from inadvertent compromise.

The details of why this is true are nicely and accurately summarized by Matt Green from John Hopkins University including comments on the PCI aspect:

http://blog.cryptographyengine...

Disclaimer - I work for a vendor in the data protection industry providing end-to-end protection of payment cardholder data for major retailers and acquirers.

Regards,
Mark Bower
VP Product Management and Solution Architecture
Voltage Security, Inc.
Guest
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Guest,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/3/2014 | 8:44:47 PM
re: PINs Stolen In Target Breach
I may be ignorant on this, but can't you guess what the known plaintext would be... There are only 10,000 possibilities: 0000 to 9999
LucasZa
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LucasZa,
User Rank: Moderator
1/9/2014 | 9:49:18 PM
re: PINs Stolen In Target Breach
There isn't a mechanism to "guess the PIN" against the ciphertext and get back a yes/no answer. Known plain text attacks don't work against modern ciphers including TDES. That would be considered a tremendous weakness. The only way to decrypt is to have the key or guess it. Think of it this way: Let's say there's a piece of paper in a lockbox with a 4 digit number. Yelling 4 digit numbers at the lockbox isn't going to make it open up if you guess right. The criminals could clone cards and try guessing PINs at ATM machines, but a few failed attempts would cause the card to go on security hold and fraud monitoring departments would notice after a few cards are attempted.


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