By Tech Editor Ian Bush
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The massive ATM fraud earlier this month — in which thieves across the world stole tens of millions of dollars in hours — can, in part, be blamed on the magnetic strips on the back of our bank cards.
A more secure version is out there, but why aren’t we using it?
The magstripe contains the information you need to make a purchase but also for a criminal to gain access to your account.
“It’s been very effective, it’s very cheap, it’s interoperable, but it is sort of the weak link,” says Brian Krebs, editor of KrebsOnSecurity.com.
He says most of Europe uses cards embedded with a chip that’s encoded with an encrypted PIN.
“[This] makes it a lot more expensive and troublesome for these guys to fabricate these cards,” Krebs explains.
There are a few problems, like the cost to convert the entire U.S. system.
Plus, many chip-and-PIN cards still have magnetic strips as a backup for retailers or ATMs that don’t have chip readers.
And if we switched, you can bet thieves would work even harder toward an easily-deployable crack of the chip as they have the strip.