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Visa adding new data encryption service for credit cards
October 3, 2012 - 4:31pm
Visa recently announced its intentions to launch a new data encryption service next year that would lead to safer and more secure credit card use, according to Business Insider. The payment processing credit card giant wants to implement a point-to-point security solution that would scramble customer data at the point of sale terminal. Once this data has been jumbled about, the chances of credit card fraud and identity theft occurring would significantly decrease.
The increase in security comes at a time when cybercriminals and hackers are getting more skilled at extracting sensitive customer data. Part of this has been attributed by researchers at Cambridge University to weaknesses in the EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) protocols. According to ITWorld, the EMV standard requires the use of payment cards with integrated circuits that eventually result in chip-and-PIN cards. These cards typically generate unpredictable numbers (UNs) at transitions. However, the aforementioned researchers discovered that due to bad design, the payment device could occasionally end up generating predictable numbers that make the user vulnerable to credit card fraud. The protocol flaws within the EMV have been tested in laboratory settings with few real-world applications.
"We take anything of this nature extremely serious, but what we would say is that there is absolutely no evidence that this type of fraud is happening in the real world," Mark Bowerman, a spokesman for the UK Cards Association, told the news source. "Part of the reason for that is that this is a very complicated and technically difficult attack to achieve."
Whatever the case, the need to increase already-stringent security standards is very real, prompting Visa to launch its new data encryption service. According to Business Insider, under this new network, merchants who accept credit cards from Visa would get a payment token instead of actual cardholder information. Similarly, phone lines or internet connections that have been compromised by hackers would receive only scrambled and random data instead of real customer data under Visa's new network.
This system is known as a point-to-point encryption (P2PE) network and could streamline the implementation of the next-generation Visa credit and debit cards that are embedded with EMV chips. According to the news source, the company expects minimal impact to participating merchants during the rollout of the P2PE network.
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