British banking giant Barclays is planning to adopt a new system to improve credit card security, based on encryption technology used by the Nazis during World War II.
According to the British daily The Telegraph, inventors David Taylor and George French based their design on Engima, a coding machine invented at the end of World War I and used by the Nazis from the 1930s onward to encrypt messages by producing different combinations of numbers at various intervals, leading to constantly changing codes. Taylor and French, along with Barclays, have secured a patent for the invention.
A spokesman for Barclays told The Telegraph that the bank is “constantly looking at ways of tackling fraud and protecting customers” and therefore has backed “an innovation that would see a CVV code that changes dynamically put onto a physical card, in order to tackle online purchasing fraud.”
The spokesman added that there is currently no timetable for the technology’s release to Barclays customers.
Currently, the three-digit card security code number — commonly known as a CVV — located on the back of credit cards serves as the primary form of credit card security.
But CVV has numerous vulnerabilities, including being prone to what are known as guessing attacks, in which hackers try to figure out the code by trying different possibilities on thousands of websites simultaneously.
The new technology will feature a keypad on the credit card, in which cardholders will enter a PIN number that will generate a number of different codes. These ciphers will be produced at changing times by an internal timer in the credit card and will be seen next to the signature strip, The Telegraph reported.
In addition to removing the CVV number, the new credit cards will not need PIN card readers. Other new features to be included are a contactless payment chip, as well as wi-fi or Bluetooth, according to The Telegraph.
The Enigma machine was widely used the Nazis to send encrypted messages during World War II. With trillions of possible combinations, its codes were considered impregnable.
However, following on earlier breakthroughs by Polish intelligence services, in 1939 a British team led by Alan Turing at Bletchley Hall finally managed to break the Enigma machine codes, giving the allies an inestimable advantage over the Nazis.
It is widely believed that cracking the Enigma shortened the war by several years and saved millions of lives.
AP contributed to this report.