ATM keypads get a security boost

Wednesday, 21 July 2004, 11:24 AM EST

Behold the modern automated teller machine, a tiny mechanical fortress in a world of soft targets. But even with all those video cameras, audit trails, and steel reinforced cash vaults, wily thieves armed with social engineering techniques and street technology are still making bank. Now the financial industry is working to close one more chink in the ATM's armor: the humble PIN pad.

Last year Visa International formally launched a 50-point security certification process for "PIN entry devices" (PEDs) on ATMs that accept Visa. The review is exhaustive: an independent laboratory opens up the PED and probes it's innards; it examines the manufacturing process that produced the device; it attacks the PED as an adversary might, monitoring it, for example, to ensure that no one can identify which buttons are being pressed by sound or electromagnetic emission. "If we are testing a product that is essentially compliant, we typically figure it's about a four week process," says Ken Kolstad, director of operations at California-based InfoGard, one of three certification labs approved by Visa International worldwide.

By Kevin Poulsen at SecurityFocus.

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