HTTPS works just fine. The problem is - people are broken. At the very least, verisign should say "ok so '..go1d..' is a valid server address, but doesn't it look suspiously similar to this '..gold..' site over here?" for https://pseudo-gold-site/ - but really, if users are going to fill in random webforms sent by email, they aren't going to be safe under any circumstances; the thing could send by unsecured http to any site on the planet, then redirect to the real gold site for a generic "transaction completed" or even "failed" screen A world where a random paypal hack like this one doesn't work is the same as the world where there is no point sending out a Nigerian as you will never make a penny on it - and yet, Nigerian is still profitable for the con artists.
in a world where there are repeated human mistakes/failures .... at some point it is recognized that people aren't perfect and the design is changed to accommodate peoples foibles. in some respects that is what helmets, seat belts, and air bags have been about.
in the past systems have designed long, complicated passwords that are hard to remember and must be changed every month. that almost worked when i person had to deal with a single shared-secret. when it became a fact of life that a person might have tens of such different interfaces it became impossible. It wasn't the fault of any specific institution, it was a failure of humans being able to deal with large numbers of extremely complex, frequently changing passwords. Because of known human foibles, it might be a good idea to start shifting from an infrastructure with large numbers of shared-secrets to a non-shared-secret paradigm.
at a recent cybersecurity conference, somebody made the statement that (of the current outsider, internet exploits, approximately 1/3rd are buffer overflows, 1/3rd are network traffic containing virus that infects a machine because of automatic scripting, and 1/3 are social engineering (convince somebody to divulge information). As far as I know, evesdropping on network traffic doesn't even show as a blip on the radar screen.
In the following thread on a financial authentication white paper:
http://www.garlic.com/~lynn/aepay11.htm#53 Authentication white paper
http://www.garlic.com/~lynn/aepay11.htm#54 FINREAD was. Authentication white paper
http://www.garlic.com/~lynn/aepay11.htm#55 FINREAD ... and as an aside
http://www.garlic.com/~lynn/aepay11.htm#56 FINREAD was. Authentication white paper
there is point made that X9.59 standard doesn't directly address the Privacy aspect of security (i.e. no encryption or hiding of data). However, the point is made that it changes the paradigm so that the financial account number no longer represents a shared-secret and that it can be supported with two-factor authentication i.e. "something you have" token and "something you know" PIN. The "something you know" PIN is used to enable the token, but is not a shared secret. Furthermore, strong authentication can be justification for eliminating the need for name or other identification information in the transaction.
However, if X9.59 strong authentication is used with two-factor authentication and no identification information is necessary .... then it would make people more suspicious if privacy information was requested. Also, since privacy information is no longer sufficient for performing a fraudulent transaction, it might mitigate that kind of social engineering attack.
The types of social engineering attacks then become convincing people to insert their hardware token and do really questionable things or mailing somebody their existing hardware token along with the valid pin (possibly as part of an exchange for replacement). The cost/benefit ratio does start to change since there is now much more work on the crooks part for the same or less gain. One could also claim that such activities are just part of child-proofing the environment (even for adults). On the other hand, it could be taken as analogous to designing systems to handle observed failure modes (even when the failures are human and not hardware or software). Misc. identify theft and credit card fraud reference:
http://www.garlic.com/~lynn/aadsm14.htm#22 Identity Theft Losses Expect to hit $2 trillion
Slightly related in recent thread that brought up buffer overflow exploits http://www.garlic.com/~lynn/2003j.html#4 A Dark Day
and the report that multics hasn't ever had a buffer overflow exploit
http://www.garlic.com/~lynn/2002l.html#42 Thirty Years Later: Lessons from the Multics Security Evaluation
http://www.garlic.com/~lynn/2002l.html#44 Thirty Years Later: Lessons from the Multics Security Evaluation
somebody (else) commented (in the thread) that anybody that currently (still) writes code resulting in buffer overflow exploit maybe should be thrown in jail.
Anne & Lynn Wheeler http://www.garlic.com/~lynn/
Internet trivia 20th anv http://www.garlic.com/~lynn/rfcietff.htm
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