MSNBC: Can hackers kill credit cards?

“The raging success of online thieves, some say, will force
the hand of banks, merchants, credit card companies and consumers
to change the way we spend money much sooner than we

“Several technologies hope to tip the scales against thieves by
implementing systems that require some real-world physical
component when shopping online. Smart cards, the generic term for
any plastic which includes an embedded microchip, are one promising

“Smart cards, which identify the user through encrypted
information embedded on the chip, must be inserted into a ‘card
reader’ attached to the computer. That means the card can’t be used
for e-commerce unless the purchaser is currently holding it.”

“A PIN number is also required, so a thief needs to physically
have the card and a security code in order to use it. That’s not an
insurmountable hurdle, but a far more difficult one than using ‘a
number and a date.’ “

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