Enigma technology to make new ultra-secure bank card


Enigma machine
The new card uses the same thinking that built the Enigma machine

Second World War cipher technology is being built into tiny processors to develop the next generation of ultra-secure bank cards.

The concept behind the design of Nazi military coding machines such as Enigma will be used to replace the existing three-digit CVV security number, which is currently found on the back of credit and debit cards.

Instead, cards will include a device that generates a frequently changing number to wrong-foot fraudsters.

The innovation is being hailed as the biggest shake-up in the field since the introduction of chip and pin in 2004.

These systems put yet another obstacle in the way of criminalsProfessor Alan Woodward, University of Surrey

Inventors David Taylor and George French have secured a patent for the technology, which Barclays plans to adopt.

Second World War encrypted communications worked on the basis of ever-changing ciphers, some of which codebreakers like Alan Turing successfully cracked, gifting Allied commanders a wealth of intelligence.

In a similar vein, Barclays customers will tap their PIN into a keypad mounted on the card which will create a range of security ciphers.

The codes will be generated at a timed interval by a tiny clock and appear next to the signature strip.

As well as replacing the static CVV number, which was first used 20 years ago but is now seen as a security weakness, the new technology also signals the end of PIN-entry card readers.

Other features in the smart card include a contactless payment chip and either a wifi aerial or Bluetooth.

Avoid being the next victim of cybercrime

06:08

Professor Alan Woodward, a cyber-security expert at the University of Surrey, said: “Barclays are trying to have technology that could display several different codes for different situations.

“These systems put yet another obstacle in the way of criminals.”

Banking fraud affected 20,255 people and cost around £755 million last year, according to Financial Fraud Action UK.

Hackers commonly target the CVV code by launching so-called distributed guessing attacks, by spreading attempts to guess the code across more than 1,000 websites in just one or two seconds.

The current static three-digit system is also vulnerable if merchants store the numbers after taking payment.

How did the Enigma machine work?

02:25

A spokesman for Barclays said: “We are constantly looking at ways of tackling fraud and protecting customers.

“This patent was filed in support of an innovation that would see a CVV code that changes dynamically put onto a physical card, in order to tackle online purchasing fraud.”

He added, however, that it was not possible to predict when the technology would be ready for customers to use.

Contactless card payment technology has opened up a new avenue for fraudsters.

Last year researchers for the consumer group Which? Found that cheap and widely available card scanners were able to “steal” key card details from which were then used to pay for goods.

Contactless cards are supposed to mask personal data from such devices.

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