Every one of us that has a credit card has heard about the rollout of EMV chip and pin cards. However, we’re all left scratching our heads about why this is such an important issue for merchants and consumers. Let’s clarify why this technology is important for everyone and how it can improve the future of payments.
EMV in The Checkout Line
Most of us have had the experience of waiting in line at the grocery store for the payment terminal to beep at us angrily to remove our card. When you insert your card into the terminal, the chip connects to the reader in the terminal. Every card that is handed out by the banks has a unique identifier that is used to validate the purchase. Every time the card is used a new transaction key is generated from the identifier. This ensures the card cannot be duplicated. If an attacker were to try and replicate a new transaction, they will be denied. Only when the transaction is taking place is the key valid.
Why All Systems Need EMV
No one should ever feel 100% confident in the security of any one system, including EMV. Implementing EMV is a significant step for the US to build up a secure infrastructure for accepting payments. Implementing this technology brings all of us closer to more secure payments. The slow rollout of new technologies at the register is holding merchants and consumers back from emerging technologies that have yet to be implemented everywhere.
Sooner, Not Later
We know that consumers and merchants are tired of hearing about the rollout of EMV for years, but we all must do our part to help increase the security of payments today. Behind the scenes, the chip embedded on your card is making thousands of calculations to keep you secure. This still does not protect us from attackers infecting the machines that are accepting them.
Machines that are compromised with malware can still steal the data if the software handles the information poorly. If an attacker is able to reverse engineer the algorithm, they can get the actual card number and copy it to a magnetic card. This is why it is important for all merchants to enforce chip only transactions. An attacker with a magnetic card cannot spend the money easily.
The future of payments
There is still much work to be done with payment processing systems around the world before we can feel safer online and in the store. We can all help protect each other be implementing and using the new technology as it’s intended.