[LINK] Consumer computer security

rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Wed Jan 24 18:39:08 AEDT 2007

Glen wrote:

>That's a real problem for the bank's applications programmer, since
>they now have no way to correct the deficiencies of the operating
>system.  For example, both Windows and Linux will allow secrets to
>be entered through the keyboard whereas the applications programmer
>might prefer them to be entered using a randomised on-screen keyboard
>so that keyloggers cannot replay the keys.
Well ... we could go "back to the future", and give up the convenience 
of the browser, instead having consumers use a purpose-built application 
from the bank. The first Advance Bank application I used was delivered 
as an EXE on a floppy disk; then so you could install it, you had to 
phone a number which recited the program's hash, which you typed in so 
as to complete the install.

OK: this would not be 100% secure against (say) eavesdropping on the 
network, but it would break the back of phishing, because you could not 
invoke the application from the e-mail or the Web browser. Would this be 
so much more expensive than, for example, shipping tokens to customers?

Of course, an installed logger could capture key data and, I suppose, 
mouse clicks, but you would still need an authenticated copy of the 
application to use captured data. This may be avoidable or beatable?

I fully expect bigger brains to shoot down the idea (for eg, "what about 
Linux"? Answer: have the application compiled cross-platform). But the 
bank would also get better traceability of application usage. The loss 
of convenience is that the app is not so easily transportable ... but 
only a fool banks from Internet cafes.


>Without changes to PC hardware there are no simple answers here.  The
>PC even lacks a genuine Secure Attention Key so that you can be
>sure your Linux Live CD for Banking is loading on real hardware rather
>than some nefarious emulator.
>There's also the problem of secure delivery of the Live CD.
>But we're starting from a low base here, so I suppose any
>improvement is worthwhile.

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