Chip and pin devices under attack

August 2012 Security Services & Risk Management

Retail chip and pin devices can be easily attacked, exposing banks, retailers, and customers to serious fraud around the world, a British Security company has revealed at the Black Hat Security Conference in Las Vegas last month.

Researchers from British IT security company, MWR InfoSecurity, have demonstrated at the conference that it is possible to attack chip and pin devices using a specially prepared chip based credit card.

Ian Shaw, managing director of the company said: “What our researchers have found reveals huge potential for fraud around the world and demonstrates that the software being used in these machines is not up to the job.

“In fact we have found the same sort of vulnerabilities in the major chip and pin machines used throughout Britain and around the world, that were found in computers 10 to 15 years ago. There is no excuse for this and lessons should have been learnt then. This lack of security is putting millions of businesses around the globe at potential risk.”

In scenario 1: researchers demonstrated how a specially prepared chip credit card is used by an attacker to pay for an item. The pin pad device produces a receipt and appears to authorise the payment without the payment ever actually being processed.

In scenario 2: researchers showed how a specially prepared card containing malware is inserted into the pin pad device installing code that will harvest all card numbers and PINs from subsequent users of the terminal. The attacker can then return at a later date and insert another malicious card that will collect the harvested numbers and PINs, cleaning up the malware and leaving the pin pad in its original state.

The first scenario exposes merchants to fraud and potential loss as they may find it very difficult to demonstrate the attack ever took place. It will effectively be their word against the payment process and will be very difficult to prove without CCTV or other means to verify the event took place at a certain time. The second scenario is even more worrying as it could be used to clone the magnetic stripe on the card and be used to withdraw cash in countries where chips on debit and credit cards have not yet been rolled out.

The scenarios above are just some examples of the issues discovered. MWR InfoSecurity also found examples of network and interface attacks – very similar to those reported by German researchers SR labs on other devices recently.

MWR’s research team discovered the issues as part of its ongoing research programme into secure payment technologies. Shaw added: “While criminal attacks are unlikely to be happening on a widespread basis currently, the vulnerabilities exist and previous patterns suggest that attacks like this are only a matter of time. We test a lot of technology used in sensitive banking and retail payment environments and were surprised at how vulnerable many pin pads are to these kinds of attacks.

“We have shown that this can be done and there is no doubt in our minds that criminals are constantly testing these systems. It is surprising that the manufacturers of these machines have done little to safeguard retailers and chip and pin card users,” says Shaw.

MWR has notified the vendors involved and have assisted with the relevant information needed to address the identified issues. They are obviously unable to provide any specific details on the issues found as the devices concerned are currently being used at thousands of retail outlets in the UK and around the world

The vendor has confirmed that they have created a software patch for the issues that were reported to them.

For more information contact MWR Info Security South Africa, +27 (0)10 100 3159, [email protected], www.mwrinfosecurity.com





Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page



Further reading:

Natural catastrophes and fire risks top concerns
Security Services & Risk Management Asset Management Residential Estate (Industry)
Natural disasters are the highest risk in the real estate industry, followed by fire and explosions, and then business interruption. Estates must prioritise risk management and take proactive measures to safeguard their assets, employees, and reputation.

Read more...
Building a solid foundation
Alwinco Security Services & Risk Management Asset Management Residential Estate (Industry)
Understanding the roles of a Risk Assessor and a Risk Manager is like building a solid and secure foundation in the security world. Andre Mundell makes it easy to understand.

Read more...
Using KPIs to measure smart city progress
Axis Communications SA Residential Estate (Industry) Integrated Solutions Security Services & Risk Management
United 4 Smart Sustainable Cities is a United Nations Initiative that encourages the use of information and communication technology (including security technology) to support a smooth transition to smart cities.

Read more...
Enhancing estate security, the five-layer approach
Fang Fences & Guards Residential Estate (Industry) Integrated Solutions Security Services & Risk Management
Residential estates are designed to provide a serene and secure living environment enclosed within gated communities, offering residents peace of mind and an elevated standard of living.

Read more...
Local manufacturing is still on the rise
Hissco Editor's Choice News & Events Security Services & Risk Management
HISSCO International, Africa's largest manufacturer of security X-ray products, has recently secured a multi-continental contract to supply over 55 baggage X-ray screening systems in 10 countries.

Read more...
Detecting humans within vehicles without opening the doors
Flow Systems News & Events Security Services & Risk Management
Flow Systems has introduced its new product, which detects humans trying to hide within a vehicle, truck, or container. Vehicles will be searched once they have stopped before one of Flow Systems' access control boom barriers.

Read more...
A standards-based, app approach to risk assessments
Security Services & Risk Management News & Events
[Sponsored] Risk-IO is web-based and designed to consolidate and guide risk managers through the whole risk process. In this article, SMART Security Solutions asks Zulu Consulting to tell us more about Risk-IO and how it came to be.

Read more...
Cybercriminals embracing AI
Information Security Security Services & Risk Management
Organisations of all sizes are exploring how artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI, in particular, can benefit their businesses. While they are still figuring out how best to use AI, cybercriminals have fully embraced it.

Read more...
Integrate digital solutions to reduce carbon footprint
Facilities & Building Management Security Services & Risk Management
As increasing emphasis is placed on the global drive towards net zero carbon emissions, virtually every industry is being challenged to lower its carbon footprint and adopt sustainable practices.

Read more...
Visualise and mitigate cyber risks
Security Services & Risk Management
SecurityHQ announced its risk and incident management capabilities for the SHQ response platform. The SHQ Response Platform acts as the emergency room, and the risk centre provides the wellness hub for all cyber security monitoring and actions.

Read more...