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Researchers Make Contactless Visa Payment Using iphone Flaw

Experts in a video showed how to make a contactless Visa payment of €1,000 from a locked iphone.

 

Cybersecurity experts in a video showed how to make a contactless Visa payment of €1,000 from a locked iphone. These unauthorised payments can be made while the iPhone is locked, it is done via exploiting an Apple Pay feature built to assist users transaction easily at ticket barriers payments with Visa. 

Apple responded by saying the problem is concerned with a Visa system. However, Visa says that its payments are safe and the such attacks lie outside of its lab and are impractical. Experts believe that the problem exists in the Visa cards setup in 'Express Transit' mode in iPhone wallet. 

It is a feature (express transit) which allows users to make fast contactless payments without unlocking their phone. However, the feature turned out to be a drawback with Visa system, as experts found a way to launch an attack. While scientists demonstrated the attack, the money debited was from their personal accounts. 

How does the attack look? 

  • A small radio is placed beside the iPhone, the device thinks of it as a legit ticket barrier. 
  • Meanwhile an android phone runs an application to relay signals (developed by experts) from the iPhone to a contactless transaction platform, it could be in a shop or a place that is controlled by the criminal. 
  • As the iPhone thinks the payment is being done to a ticket barrier, it doesn't unlock. 
However, the iPhone's contact with the transaction platform is altered to make it think that the iPhone has been unlocked and an authorized payment is done which allows high value payments, without the need of fingerprint, PIN, or Face Id verification. 

The experts while demonstrating in a video did a €1,000 Visa transaction without unlocking the iPhone, or authorizing the payment. According to experts, the payment terminals and android phones used here don't need to near the targeted iPhone. 

As of now, the demonstration has only been done by experts in the lab and no reports of the feature exploit in the wild have been reported. "The researchers also tested Samsung Pay, but found it could not be exploited in this way.They also tested Mastercard but found that the way its security works prevented the attack. 

Co-author Dr Ioana Boureanu, from the University of Surrey, said this showed systems could be "both usable and secure". The research is due to be presented at the 2022 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy," reports BBC.
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