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The Evolution of Credit Cards and the Future of Card Security

Posted by David Coley on Feb 13, 2019 3:14:49 PM

Giving Credit Where Credit’s Due
Credit cards have permeated our lives as far back as 1946 when Brooklyn, NY banker John Biggins created Charg-It, the first bank card in the U.S. but limited to local Brooklyn merchants only. Four years later, expanding on the initial Charg-it concept, the Diner’s Club Card was introduced. Diner’s Club began with 200 memberships and 27 participating restaurants; allowing members to sign for their meals and pay the bill later. The idea was a good one as membership grew to 20,000 users in the first year. By 2022 it is estimated that over 17 billion cards will be in circulation accounting for over $700 billion in spending.

The Billion Dollar Question

So here’s the billion dollar question. 17 billion cards means the potential for 17 billion cases of identity theft, stolen assets, etc. Not surprisingly, the cybersecurity business is on fire as IoT, antivirus/malware products, network protection services, encryption and biometric companies, all exploiting the opportunities before them, are cashing in. So where is the credit card’s last line of defense?

Let us examine the card security evolution as it stands today. We have signature requirements to thwart forgery, magnetic stripes (1960s tech and easily duplicated), pin codes (potentially compromised) and the current technology found in most cards today, the EMV or “chip” card. The EMV card has reduced credit card fraud dramatically since inception since it is much harder/expensive for the common criminal to crack.  However, never underestimate the tenacity of a real hacker with deep pockets to compromise the encryption on these chips. All encryption eventually gets cracked.

Next-Gen Protection

So, where do we go from here? Is there another layer of card security forthcoming? That answer is yes and it should not be a surprise what that entails: On-card biometrics. The reliability of biometric technology has finally blossomed to a level of reliability. Technology and the micro sizing of components has reached the point that we can now put fingerprint readers into credit cards without increasing the card’s current size. Global banking institutions are currently evaluating new technologies being proposed. What will the new protocols involve: Swipe your finger on the card to make the card temporarily active and use the card within the set time allocated? - An instant way to turn the card’s activation on and off. What is in store for us in the distant future:  On-card retinal readers or DNA scanners perhaps? .With the fast evolution of tech, I personally would not be surprised.

Protecting the Protectors

Corporations have spent large amounts of money, time and resources to safeguard credit card data. As technology providers, our role is to serve as security evangelists by ensuring customers’ sensitive data never gets compromised. But, effective client protection first requires effective individual protection. As solutions experts, it’s our duty to be intimately aware of good cybersecurity practices internally to identify and thwart potential attacks from phishing and malware. Do not click on suspect looking emails or use storage devices from unknown sources. Refer to your company’s internal policies and contact your IT Security experts for assistance.  Secondly, educate yourself at every opportunity and stay current on product offerings.  Tech Data Security Experts Consultative Services and Extensive Vendor Portfolio is a great resource, Tech Data Security.

About the Author

David Coley is a member of the Vendor Technology Enablement team at Tech Data’s Corporate HQ in Clearwater, FL. He is currently an ASE supporting Fujitsu Enterprise products and previously worked 18 years in Integration Services. His computer expertise dates back to the 1980’s during his enlistment in the US Air Force as a Fire Fighter working part-time supporting Packard Bell and Commodore Business Machines computers at the Base Exchange. Eventually, retrained into Air Force Communications with a role as a Small Computer Systems Security Officer. David received an Air Force Achievement Medal for creating the USAF’s first electronic phonebook using compiled hypertext markup language before HTML had gained general acceptance for usage on webpages.


Tags: Identity Theft, Credit Card Security, Credit Fraud