By Larry Greenemeier
March 10, 2007
The tensions and problems surrounding the security of electronic
customer data and online transactions got a proper airing last week,
when Visa held a security summit in Washington, D.C. It seems everyone
had some advice for others in the transaction chain.
Visa USA president and CEO John Philip Coghlan wasn't cutting retailers
any slack for data breaches. "The majority of compromises come from
storage of prohibited data and retailers using vulnerable systems to
process data," Coghlan said. Just one-third of the largest merchants --
those processing more than 6 million transactions a year -- comply with
payment card security standards. Visa this year will offer incentives
for compliance, such as giving its lowest fees to those that are
compliant before October, plus it will levy fines for noncompliance.
But retailers would like more help from Visa, too. Department store
Nordstrom in 2005 increased its security efforts as Visa began
emphasizing compliance. But Nordstrom executive VP Daniel Little would
like the card companies to offer better guidance on how companies should
rank data risks. "That would help us identify the highest-priority
issues," he said. Little and his team conduct weekly meetings related to
payment-card compliance, and he provides quarterly reports to the
company's board. "Information security and privacy are in the top five
of our risks," he said.
For eBay CEO Meg Whitman, scams are one of the biggest business risks
because of the potential loss of trust. She outlined some of eBay's new
security tools and strategies. "Security on the Net is actually an arms
race in its most classic form," she told the summit.
EBay and its PayPal group are the favored target for phishers. To ensure
that customers can identify legitimate eBay E-mails, the company
includes a digital signature on every one it sends. It's trying to
convince Internet service providers to route only E-mails that contain
this signature. Another measure is a PayPal security key that creates a
random code to authenticate each transaction. "It's a combination lock
for your PayPal account," Whitman said. It's been in beta for about a
Whitman also thinks banks and card companies could do better. She noted
bank card networks receive information about fraudulent transactions
days and sometimes weeks before merchants do, and that's a major
problem. EBay wants to know about fraudulent payment accounts before its
users ship goods to the perpetrators.
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