Secure magstripe?

Visa seems to be investigating a new way to use magnetic stripe cards. The article does not give much details, but the basic idea seems to be that the magnetic stripe is scanned with a high definition, which provides a “unique” pattern, which Visa compares to the DNA or fingerprint of the card. Of course, we don’t know yet how unique this pattern is, and how well it identifies the card. In particular, the pattern will be better if it depends on the physical properties of the magstripe (as it is somehow glued on the card), since this will be hard to forge.

This approach is interesting, because it makes it harder to use forged cards in face-to-face transactions. In this particular context, it reduces the differentiation of smart cards. Nevertheless, such approaches are interesting for security, at least to remind the smart card industry that their solutions are costly, and that there may be other ways to decrease the risk associated to payment (or any other application).

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