Shape of things to come

A WARBOYS company s invention, claimed to be 100 times more secure than chip-and-PIN, could revolutionise customer not present card transactions, such as on-line purchases. The principle is simple and is based on a 25-digit square from which the custome

A WARBOYS company's invention, claimed to be 100 times more secure than chip-and-PIN, could revolutionise "customer not present" card transactions, such as on-line purchases.

The principle is simple and is based on a 25-digit square from which the customer chooses a pattern, such as a tick or L, and registers it with the card issuer.

When a transaction is carried out, the grid appears on the screen and the customer keys in the numbers that match the pattern.

Each time the card is used the software generates a different distribution of numbers, so it is unnecessary to remember a PIN. And, because every digit is repeated at least once whenever a grid is generated, fraud is much more difficult.


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"A fraudster cannot look at both the grid and the keypad at the same time," co-inventor Steve Howes, chief executive of GrIDsure, told The Hunts Post.

Steve, 44, who was born and brought up in Ramsey and who lives in Upwood, has installed the system in his old school, Abbey College, where pupils have secure logins to their computer accounts.

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It is also on trial with a district council in Cumbria, and there has already been interest from the US, Canada and Australia.

The invention was revealed to the trade three months ago after two years' development in the seven-strong Warboys company and was made public last week.

A survey carried out for the company showed people who had suffered card fraud wanted more than just their money back from the card issuer, Mr Howes said. They wanted better security.

Mr Howes and fellow inventor Jonathan Craymer, who have been assisted for some time by lead advisers PricewaterhouseCoopers, believe the random-number component in the security process may enable the transaction industry to do away completely with fixed PINs.

"People are continuously under threat of becoming victims of financial fraud, from shoulder surfers at the cashpoint to sophisticated online phishers," said Mr Craymer, the company's chairman.

"So far, most solutions that have been put forward to resolve this involve either more complicated or long-winded authentication techniques, or additional hardware such as code generators."

The icing on the cake is that GrIDsure also works with any device on which a display can be shown, so is ideal for mobile phone-based solutions, turning any mobile phone or PDA into a stand-alone code generator, which lowers the cost of implementation and improves security, they added.

"The low-hanging fruit for us is purchasing over the web. Fraud is continuing to grow. It's purely a software thing," Mr Howes said.

INFORMATION: GrIDsure is at Orchard House, Heath Road, Warboys, PE28 2UW. Telephone: 01487 825014. E-mail info@gridsure.com

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