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Killing That 'Man in the Browser'

TriCipher to unveil transaction security tool today

TriCipher today will roll out a new security add-on aimed at protecting financial institutions and their customers from attacks targeting online transactions, Dark Reading has learned. The new Armored Transactions software verifies transactions to prevent phishing as well as the more dangerous man-in-the-browser attacks that intercept and manipulate transactions to steal money, identities, and launch other attacks. (See Authentication Goes USB Route.)

The new Armored Transactions add-on runs with TriCipher's Armored Credential System (TACS) 4.0, a multi-factor authentication package aimed mainly at financial institutions and healthcare organizations. Armored Transaction runs on the same screen as the browser, but separate from the browser, in its own SSL session. When an online banking customer submits $200 in a transaction, for instance, and a bad guy in the middle intercepts it and steers $500 to his account, the software catches the discrepancy and alerts the user before he confirms his transaction. "It will show a lie if there is one," says Tim Renshaw, vice president of evangelism and field applications for TriCipher.

Renshaw says the software doesn't focus on the actual vulnerabilities that the infected browsers suffer from, but more the malware that has infested them. "It's less worried about the technique being used, so the good news is this is not specific to a vulnerability. It solves the entire vector of attack types, regardless of whether it's ActiveX, Java, cross-site scripting, or other related attacks."

Armored Transaction uses the browser's SSL session, as well as TriCipher's PKI-based digital identification scheme behind the scenes, which is based on three keys. It also lets a user digitally "sign" a transaction. The tool is basically an alternative to challenge/response systems, and TriCipher says its early customers are financial institution customers doing high-dollar transactions, such as brokerages. "I don't see this being for every $100 utility bill."

Man-in-the browser attacks thus far haven't been as widespread in the U.S. as in Europe, however, since smart cards are still emerging here, Renshaw notes. The bad guys are increasingly choosing this method because it's too tough to jump in between an SSL session, he says.

TriCipher is still hammering out pricing details and structure, but Renshaw says it will likely come to somewhere under one dollar per user for large, 100,000-user deployments.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

  • TriCipher Inc.