Recently I briefed banking executives in Bangkok on how easy it is to steal userIDs and passwords from their on-line banking customers and why they must have two-factor authentication. To illustrate my key points, I showed the captive audience various pictures of hardware keyloggers, for example the small black keylogger circled in the figure below.
There are PS2 keyloggers (illustrated above) and USB keyloggers. There are even keyboards with the keyloggers built into normal looking keyboards, so you have no idea a keylogger is there. Don’t believe me? You can search the net and find so many!
Today I was reminded about my recent meeting in this Network World article, Two-factor authentication: Hot technology for 2008. This article mentions numerous token-based two-factor authentication (2FA) solutions. However, it misses a popular and inexpensive two-factor authentication used here in Thailand and APAC: SMS-based 2FA.
In a nutshell, SMS-based 2FA involves having your on-line banking system send an SMS message with a one-time password (OTP) to your cell phone. You then must enter the OTP to complete your transaction.
Is this a perfect solution?
But, it is much better than than just passwords!
A ten year old child can easily steal your userID and password, really.
So, the next time you are at an Internet cafe, trusting your SSL link to your bank, don’t forget to take a peek at the computer and look for a small keylogger.
Well, on the other hand, also don’t forget to bring your own keyboard (or laptop) 🙂