Preventing Identity fraud with Secure Digital Wallets by Prashant Dewan

Intel’s Secure Digital Wallet (SDW) research enables the users to manage their credentials for various banks, e-commerce websites, e-mail servers on Intel laptops, desktops and MIDs so that their susceptibility to identity fraud is minimized. Identity fraud is one of the ways by which the criminals on the Internet steal innocent user’s credentials and use it for illegitimate purposes. Criminals can steal credit card numbers to buy things on the Internet and tarnish our credit history. It can take a few days to a few months with lots of pain for the owner of the card to recover from such misuse. In the extreme cases the damage done could be irreparable.

SDW is based on security visor developed using Intel® VT technology to restrict illegitimate accesses to user credentials in transit and at rest. The access control is enforced under the operating system without modifying the OS kernel. More specifically the confidential information is encrypted while on disk and maintained in an enclave while in memory in a fashion that only an authenticated and validated code can access this information. Even the graphics rendered on the screen is under strict access control enforced by the security visor.

For the end users, SDW will increase their confidence in online transactions since it will block traditional malware like key loggers, screen scrapers, hardware keyboard sniffers. It will significantly reduce phishing attacks without forcing the user to look at difficult to read digital certificates. Today one of the peeve points of end-users is the multitude of websites and remembering their login and passwords. SDW will alleviate that pain and will remember the user’s login/passwords thereby making online transactions a more pleasant and safer experience.

The fraud costs are borne by the merchants or the credit card companies in many countries. The solutions out there today need either the merchants and/or the card companies to modify their infrastructure thereby adding to their cost. Moreover, since the adoption rates are generally slow, companies find it hard to justify the cost. SDW will not need any changes on the bank’s/merchant’s infrastructure and will work on a large number of Intel platforms already in the market. As a result merchants will see a significant reduction in risk and money spent on chargebacks.

Today, SDW is a research project. As we mature the technology, hopefully we will see it available one day.

Prashant Dewan is a security researcher in CTG. His research interests are network and platform security, virtualization and decentralized networks. He has a PhD in computer science and has been working at Intel since 2004.

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