1996-02-01 - Re: FV’s Borenstein discovers keystroke capture programs! (pictures at 11!)

Header Data

From: Nathaniel Borenstein <nsb@nsb.fv.com>
To: dmacfarlane@zip.sbi.com (David Macfarlane)
Message Hash: dae925795c6a1ac97a2f3875caae8033043c28f06ef932a550098cdae1cc7355
Message ID: <Ul3HuJ2Mc50e4WYAA4@nsb.fv.com>
Reply To: <9601292041.AA14422@zip_master2.sbi.com>
UTC Datetime: 1996-02-01 02:34:07 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 10:34:07 +0800

Raw message

From: Nathaniel Borenstein <nsb@nsb.fv.com>
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 10:34:07 +0800
To: dmacfarlane@zip.sbi.com (David Macfarlane)
Subject: Re: FV's Borenstein discovers keystroke capture programs! (pictures at 11!)
In-Reply-To: <9601292041.AA14422@zip_master2.sbi.com>
Message-ID: <Ul3HuJ2Mc50e4WYAA4@nsb.fv.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Well, the mis-conceptions are flying fast and furious.

1.  I didn't write the program.

2.  It has nothing to do with viruses.  No current virus protection
program will ever detect this thing, and if you write a program that
detects one instantiation of the attack, the program can be easily
changed to require a new "detector" program.  This means you can only
protect against the last attack, not the next one.

> I readily admit that there is a larger issue about viruses and
> being able to trust your software, but the presentation from FV
> of this announcement as a "fatal flaw" in internet commerce is
> remarkably disingenuous.  They are really saying, "We have the
> only safe approach" quietly between the lines.

You're twisting our words.  We believe it is a truly fatal flaw in those
internet commerce schemes that are based on software encryption of
credit card numbers.  There are several schemes for Internet commerce
that are unaffected:

	-- First Virtual (of course)
	-- Hardware encryption (e.g. consumer card-swipe machines)
	-- Smart cards
	-- Digital cash (unless the tokens are made too easy to recognize)

We say this VERY EXPLICITLY in our web pages. We are NOT saying we have
the only safe approach.  We have one of four safe approaches that we
know of.  But software encryption of credit card numbers is so easy to
circumvent that it is, in practice, useless.  (The only threat it really
protects against is network-based sniffers, which are harder to write
and more traceable than the attack we have just outlined.)

> And before pm. says it, this has very little to do with
> cryptography.

Agreed 100%.  I never claimed otherwise.  It does, however, emphasize
the *limits* to the security provided by cryptography, something that
cypherpunks are well aware of but that the general public is not aware
of.  -- Nathaniel