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The Universal Card

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the no,-we-mean-universal dept.

Hardware 358

retro128 writes "Wired News is carrying a story about a new product from Chameleon Network that's supposed to replace all of your credit/debit/customer cards. It can read the information off of the magnetic strips of credit/debit cards, scan the barcode off of customer loyalty cards, and even memorize the RFID signals of devices like the Mobil SpeedPass. All of this information is stored in a device called the Pocket Vault, and is unlocked with the user's fingerprint. If you wish to use a magnetic strip card, you select the card from the touch screen and put a Chameleon card, which looks like and can be run in standard readers like a credit card, in the Pocket Vault. The Chameleon card will then assume the identity of the card you selected, but only for 10 minutes. In this way, if the card is lost or stolen, nobody can use it. In the case of RFID, you just hold the Pocket Vault up to the RFID scanner for a reading. For barcode-based cards, the barcode will appear on the screen and can be scanned by a standard barcode reader. Chameleon Network says this technology will be available in early 2005 and is expected to cost under $200."

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358 comments

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karma (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8482968)

need... karma... quick...

Sad news ... Stephen King dead at 56 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8482971)


I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Horror/Sci Fi writer Stephen King was found dead in his Maine home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

Is this true? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483031)

I haven't seen anything on the news yet, but if so that'd be pretty sad. He's one of the few authors that could still put out a good novel after decades of writing.

Re:Sad news ... Stephen King dead at 56 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483040)

Afraid that it is. I heard it on the radio and saw it on Drudge, but haven't seen in on MSNBC yet.

Off topic and probably wrong. (1, Funny)

biendamon (723952) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483077)

I've checked the Drudge Report, CNN, the AP, Reuters, ABC, MSNBC, and Google news. Can't find a mention of it anywhere. Now here's the real question... Dead or alive, would Stephen King use these universal devices? Do the undead worry about the security of their credit and debit cards? What are the implications of RFID in relation to space aliens? If you're demonically possessed, can the demon use this device in your stead? Inquiring minds don't really want to know...

Yes but what about bluetooth? (3, Funny)

eddie can read (631836) | more than 10 years ago | (#8482973)

Seriously, seems cumbersome and delicate. Can I sit on one of these? You don't want me sitting on your lap (for various reasons) but my credit cards can handle it.

Re:Yes but what about bluetooth? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8482979)

all your cards are belong to us?

And the difference is... (3, Insightful)

algf2004 (748651) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483172)

So I should stop using my wallet because it is too big and instead use a handheld computer that is as big as my wallet?

Right...

You want me to pay for that? (5, Insightful)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#8482978)

200 bucks for you to know everything about me?

How about YOU pay ME.

Re:You want me to pay for that? (2, Interesting)

Turgon33 (179510) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483010)

yeah, just what i need. one single device that can decide to call 'home' with all of my purchasing habits on it.

Re:You want me to pay for that? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483143)

RTFA - It stores all of the information locally. The only one that knows everything about you is you.

Re:You want me to pay for that? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483165)

It stores all of the information locally. The only one that knows everything about you is you.

Right. You and any card reader you need to use.

My vote: the current system (4, Insightful)

DaHat (247651) | more than 10 years ago | (#8482982)

This just seems too complicated. I enjoy the simplicity of looking in my wallet, and having only a glance of the card I want, pull it out and use it, no need to select any menus or buttons on it, just pull it out, insert, replace.

Re:My vote: the current system (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483020)

Absolutely. And I'd imagine it would get pretty boring reading news story after news story about theives lopping off the fingers of their victims.

Uhh.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8482983)

It's called a smart card, and in Europe we've had it for more than a decade. Mind you, they don't have all of that fancy RFID stuff built in, but then again, over here, we don't need to keep track of terrorists!

Re:Uhh.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483127)

They don't need RFID tags to keep track of terrorists in the US either. It's just to keep track of normal people in the police state they're building. The claims about terrorists are just red herrings.

Re:Uhh.. (1)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483203)

Uhm, I have a European bank account and a smart card that goes with it. Suffice it to say, those little chips to nothing more than Visa Electron. It's for digital cash. Nothing more. Nice try, though.

who needs variety (0)

mastergoon (648848) | more than 10 years ago | (#8482989)

Excellent, this will make it so much easier for people to track down my details!

Warning: Vaporware Company Detected (4, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8482995)

Any company that has a hyperlink marked "Investor Information" above-the-fold (shown without a need to scroll down on a typical 800x600 setup) is automatically a bit suspect.

I fear that Slashdot's logo is now going to get added to their brag-about-press-coverage page [chameleonnetwork.com] . For the record, the "Boston's WB in the Morning" program they brag about was canceled in 2002.

I'm not suggesting that this company's technology doesn't exist, but their product is pure vaporware [chameleonnetwork.com] and they have lists of good reasons why a merchant, bank, or large company should partner with them, but they can't name any merchant, bank, or large companies who have agreed to partner with them. At least they have a patent appilcation pending [chameleonnetwork.com] .

Re:Warning: Vaporware Company Detected (2, Funny)

joshmoh (708871) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483076)

I agree. Even if it isn't vaporware, this sounds like a "Hey, let's get-rich-quick with our hot cool idea" company. Their order form raises a big red flag:
For a total of 50% discount, will you pay in advance?
I will not buy into your scam.
I will not buy it, Sam I am.

HEY! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483001)

Gary Gygax is da man!
Yo, @ops, how 'bout some of dat +5 powah?

Yow! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483003)

I'm hungry for some smooth, warm dog dick [pureyiff.wuli.nu] .

Great idea....for thieves! (5, Insightful)

Damiano (113039) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483005)

So I can grab any card I get my hands on for even a second (as a waiter or working at a gas station for example), run it through this toy and it saves the mag strip info to its internal memory. After getting several hundred (or when I max out the devices memory) I and my friends can then go on a HUGE shopping spree using stolen credit cards. Conveniently, as soon as I think the credit card companies might realize the first number is being used by an unauthorized person, I just switch to the next one. Sign me up! *sigh*

Re:Great idea....for thieves! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483023)

Quick, someone should mod this guy up!

Re:Great idea....for thieves! (0, Interesting)

mauthbaux (652274) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483036)

Well, since it supposedly only works for 10 minutes at a shot.... I don't think that using it for illegal means would be that easy. However, the problem is that from the sounds of it, the needed input signal (fingerprint that is then translated into a digital activation signal) is already stored on the card itself. I'm sure that it wouldn't take too long even without the owners fingerprint to crack whatever signal they're using, and make stealing cards a very very proffitable business. Makes Identity theft all the easier....

Did you read the parent post? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483065)

He wasn't saying it would be easy for thieves to steal the universal cards themselves; it would be easy to actually store stolen cards (be it credit cards, debit cards... whatever) into memory very easily and efficiently! He makes an excellent point and I think it's rather scary. A thief would only need the card for a second, and they would have card in their little database.

Re:Did you read the parent post? (4, Insightful)

Tensor (102132) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483128)

Not only that ... the stolen card database would be encrypted and protected by his own fingerprint should he ever be caught.

Making him decode the cards would be akin to making him testify against himself, hence making it unadmissible in court.

Plus he could always claim (farfetched, yes, but possible) that it was all some kind of equipment glitch or Chamaleon card mixup in a bar or something along these lines

HUH ? (1)

Tensor (102132) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483099)

You TOTALLY missed the point.

The parent was saying to use the RECORDER to steal the card numbers using it to record the customer's card (as you would your own cards) and then sending it to the Chamaleon card to use it in shops.

Just imagine what you could do with the RFID cards. Just walking in a mall recording off other people's cards, or cars !!!

And the irony is that you can even steal the info off these Chamaleon cards.

OMG you are a genious. (4, Insightful)

Tensor (102132) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483074)

This is without a doubt the best thieves's tool!

The only thing that could be done to prevent this is to make it hold only a small number of each type of card. Like only 10 Credit Cards. Still, its pretty much simplyfies the "printing" of stolen cards.

OTOH, i wonder if this will ever work. CC companies must back this up to work, i mean try taking the mag strip off your AmEx (or visa, or ... ) card, and pasting it on a cardboard card, and write your name and number up on the front. And then TRY to use it in any shop. I am sure they'll just ask for some other card.

Re:OMG you are a genious. (2, Interesting)

John Courtland (585609) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483131)

You can remagnetize a carelessly discarded card. ALWAYS cut your discarded credit cards. Use it at a shop that is lax on security (why do you think some clerks ask for photo ID and are supposed to type in the last 4 digits of the CC #?). However, this wouldn't even need that. It comes with a "chameleon" card that can change its number. Use that and you're set.

Re:OMG you are a genious. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483210)

Having to post anonymously, due to a previous life of crime that my present life must not acknowledge.

The criminal element factor was my first reaction to this. Back in the day, I worked as a bartender in a restaurant. I also knew a few people who were 'connected', as it were. These nefarious people had access to a magnetic card writer. I had access to a great many credit cards. I'm sure you can make the connection.

I was paid a non-trivial sum for every credit card number I delivered to them, and more for American Express Platinum cards. I was also paid another amount for pilfering credit cards from the office safe -- you'd be surprised how many people leave their cards behind at a bar and never reclaim them. We would always get at least 5-10 a night, and there was a stack of 100's that people had never claimed.

These people would then re-encode the pilfered cards with the stolen numbers and go on a spending spree. In the event of a store with a last four numbers check, or if security was a concern, they just used another corrupt employee like me to type in the correct four digits. I even recieved a few of these cards as bonus payments myself.

Luckily for me, I got out of the business before it attracted too much attention on my part. However, to this day, I will not use a debit card in place of a credit card. At least with a credit card, you have protection. A debt card just comes right out of your bank account. I certainly tried to not give the criminals debt card numbers, but I'm sure a few slipped through the cracks, and I know that there were co-workers less scrupulous than me.

However, I also wonder if you'd be able to use this device in any store. With all the security in place today, I wonder who would accept this as a valid credit card. I can't even buy things without having the back signed half the time. Then again, it's not like the self-checkout lines at Wal-Mart ever physically inspect my card.

Re:Great idea....for thieves! (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483119)

Um, that would be great and everything, except that the thing likely won't accept any info without the right name (which is part of the data taken from each card) attached. In other words, the thing would either key to the first name scanned or would come pre-registered with a name already attached.

That's not to say that it wouldn't be hackable (I haven't looked into their encryption methods - anything can be hacked), but it would be a more difficult than you propose.

Besides, the situation you describe already exists. You can either take an impression of the card or write the information down - not everything (hello, Internet) requires reading the magnetic strip...low tech but insanely easy.

Not so (1)

Tensor (102132) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483158)

I thought about that too, but my name is different on some of my cards so this would not be practical.

Its Last name, First name in some. First Last in others. First Initial Last in yet others, etc. I have one card where my last name is misspelled (its ok phonetically).

Also now that i think about it, this needs some kind of text entry too, cos it would need to store the CVV to be displayed on screen at purchase time.

*CVV is the 4 digit number middle right in AmEx cards, or 3 digit at the end of the CC number on the back in some Visas and MCs. Its used to verify that the card is physically present at purchase time, as this number is not in the mag strip (i can't figure out exactly how, as it could have been hand copyied by the thief too, but its used for this)

and even memorize RFID signals of SpeedPass (3, Insightful)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483185)

and even memorize the RFID signals of devices like the Mobil SpeedPass.

Hey, slick, it can memorize a SpeedPass code. Gee, what could posiably go wrong with this?

Now we gotta wrap our speed pass in tin foil too!

potentially inconvenient (3, Insightful)

sjalex (757770) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483006)

This sounded cool to me for a few seconds until I thought, what happens when the cashier at the quick-n-go tries to verify your credit card against your license? Stephen

Re:potentially inconvenient (2, Funny)

osmodion (716658) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483225)

You just show them the icon for your driver's license and go on your merry way.

Re:potentially inconvenient (1)

ikewillis (586793) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483237)

This sounds like a problem with these cards in general. What stores would accept them? Wouldn't they be suspicious of credit card fraud?

Just fabulous (1)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483008)

Just what I need, only ONE card to lose, sounds like a royal pain IMO.

Re:Just fabulous (1)

Red Alastor (742410) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483075)

*Theorically*, nobody can use your card once you lost it. But you still have lost 200$.

Re:Just fabulous (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483102)

I don't know that you'd have to destroy your credit/eft card once you transferred the information to it. You could keep the 'originals' at home or somewhere else safe.

If you did lose/have stolen your wallet, at least you'd know that they'd have to actually hack into the card rather than simply use the visa which would otherwise be in there. Of course, once a backdoor is found it would presumably be easy to automate.

While having the card hacked into is a risk, there are lots of other ways to get at the same information which it holds.

I think it's a cool idea, vaporware or not, but I think i'll wait for a few years after release before I get one :)

Pros and Cons (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483009)

While it would be great to have everything on one card... there is a lot more inconvenience to be expected if it is lost. However, the security features may trump that.

At college, I have a meal card and a key card, and as long as I only lose one at a time, I can always either eat or get into my room. If one card served both functions, I would lose food and shelter when I lost it. On the other hand, maybe it would be simpler to only have to keep track of one card and I therefore would not lose it. Who knows.

Re:Pros and Cons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483056)

Gary Gygax knows! The answer is in the DMG, pg.235. Now roll for initiative, monkey boy!

Gimmie your wallet! (5, Funny)

mikeophile (647318) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483012)

and your thumb!

Re:Gimmie your wallet! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483188)

You joke but it seems to me that just by handling this thing you've foiled the security on it because you've left the "password" (your thumb-print) all over it. If you drop it, everything a thief needs is right there. I seem to remember a Japanese professor creating gum-drop fingerprints by lifting prints off handled items.

A card is more than just a magnetic strip... (5, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483016)

It's not quite clear if Visa or Mastercard will allow its member stores to accept Chameleon Cards in place of real plastic cards. Afterall, that card won't be able to mimic the Visa or MS holigram, the color-printed signature strip with code number on it, or the physical impression of the card numbers.

Accepting non-original cards opens up the risk of accepting any card with a magnetic stripe as being a stand-in for the real credit card. It would effectively turn all in-person credit card transaction to being as insecure as a web transaction. There's a reason why web merchants have to pay more for their credit card services, and it's that insecurity.

So, it's near certian that Visa and Mastercard accepting stores will be ordered by the card networks not to accept Chameleon Cards from customers. Game over for this technology... it works in the lab but won't work in the real world.

Re:A card is more than just a magnetic strip... (1)

mijacs (731687) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483054)

That is pretty much my basic concern. I looked on their page but did not find how you actually input a credit card. If I can not find my credit card then I know to call up the company and cancel it. So now if I missplace it and everything seems okay what should I do.

Re:A card is more than just a magnetic strip... (1)

Hermanetta (55229) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483062)

How would they know it was a chameleon. How would they stop it?

If I made a card that would read the same to 99% of the millions of dumb card readers, what could Visa or Master Card do to know the difference.

If you say the cachiers would check every card, especially with all of the self swipe readers out now, then you are a nut.

I think somehting like this would eventually happen.

Re:A card is more than just a magnetic strip... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483112)

They are at least going to look for the big MasterCard or Visa or Novus or Amex logo that is in a standard position on every card in existance. If it doesn't have one of those four, the clerk is sure to bounce it because they won't know what button to hit on the reader.

Sure, a card reader should be able to know that all Visa cards start with a 4, and all Mastercards start with 5, but they still ask the clerk to declare what card it is as an idiot check...

Re:A card is more than just a magnetic strip... (1)

Hermanetta (55229) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483147)

The two main grocery stores where I shop, the video rental store, gas station, Best Buy, even Babies-R-Us, you name it, only care if its debit or credit. And most of the ones I see now ask you which one it is.
The number on the card already says which credit card company isuesd the card and its been that way for a long time.

Re:A card is more than just a magnetic strip... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483174)

Even if you swipe your card for yourself, the video screen will then show you a prompt to hand the card to the cashier, and the cashier will see a screen prompt take the card and verify the signature. If this thing ever comes out, cashiers will be told to look at the face of the card too, and accepting a magnetic card that doesn't have the proper markings for its network will be a firing offense.

This might be able to fool the ATM machine... but trust me, banks are going to warn consumers against doing it.

Re:A card is more than just a magnetic strip... (1)

Hermanetta (55229) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483212)

Are we talking about now or are we argueing counter measures for the future. I am talking about now. None of the places I shop have any kind of prompt to hand over a card, plus the card hand over defeats the the effeciency of the self help card reader.

If anything the trend for stores is the opposite of what you are saying. And it would take forever to switch back. For instance, latly in the past few months, I get confused all the time by handing a card to the cachier only to have it immediatly handed back and notice they have a new self help reader installed. This must have happened five times in different places the last month.

I can think of three places in the last year that now have self check out lanes. Ther is usually only one person for two or four lanes that is just there to keep people honenst, help if someone gets confused, or give cash back.

So the original argument I posed is how would they stop it. Not in the sense of countermeasures, but it the since of their own infrastrucuture working against them, at least for a long time for most places.

Re:A card is more than just a magnetic strip... (3, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483249)

If the machine doesn't prompt for the attendant to veryify the physical presense of the orignal card, then the card transaction slips from a card-present transaction to a card-not-present transaction, and a higher fee is due to the credit card issuers or the store has to eat the higher risk of fraud.

A debit card transaction can get by with just the pin and no physical verification... but that also means an even higher merchant fee. This is why Wal-Mart is no longer accepting MasterCard debit cards as debit cards when the card is capable of supporting a credit card transaction, because that's what's cheaper for the store to do.

Re:A card is more than just a magnetic strip... (1)

breakinbearx (672220) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483067)

The article is somewhat unclear about this, but it says that the card will have "the selected credit card account number, expiration date and logo imprinted on its flexible display, and its transducer reconfigured to work in the store's or bank's magnetic card reader." It seems as if the Pocket Vault will store ALL the information about the card, including the physical data. Also, perhaps the original cards will be verified by fingerprint through the card maker... this seems like a rather good way for the big credit card companies to make sure these cards are legit.

Re:A card is more than just a magnetic strip... (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483085)

Then the credit card companies must trust the hardware.

Can you imagine a couple reasons they might not want to do that?

Re:A card is more than just a magnetic strip... (2, Insightful)

dj245 (732906) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483171)

Its been my experience that merchants give a crap what your card looks like as long as it scans the first or second time and doesn't create problems for them. My personal card has a hole drilled in it (to facilitate key-chaining), the hologram is worn off. The 3-digit security number on the back is also unreadable (memorized). A good chunk of the Mag stripe is worn to the bare plastic and its actually plastic-white. Merchants couldn't care less. They need it to scan, and little less.

If nothing else, credit cards are remarkably resiliant to damage.

completely compatible? (2, Insightful)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483019)

what if you want to imprint the card?

or verify a signature?
not too good..

Re:completely compatible? (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483191)

Imprinting the card and verifying that the signature you captured is the signature on the back of the card are ways that a store can prove that it made a card-present transaction. Having just the numbers and expiration date is only good enough to make a card-not-present transaction.

Card-not-present transactions cost more in merchant fees because there is of course a higher risk of fraud when the physical properties of the card aren't being checked. Therefore, stores won't go for this.

Re:completely compatible? (1)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483196)

Also many cards are coming out with chips on'em, and I seriously doubt this thing will be able to mimic those.

Big Ouch at the ATM (3, Interesting)

breakinbearx (672220) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483021)

One has to wonder... what happens if the ATM eats your card? Then again, if the ATM is likely to eat your card, you probably don't have the cash for this gadget anyways.

Re:Big Ouch at the ATM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483114)

Are you trying to say that ATMs mock poor people by destroying their cards?

Re:Big Ouch at the ATM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483125)

Don't worry. You'll find more magic cards down in the lower levels of the dungeon. Some of them even have spells, like "Summon Pokemon", or enchantments that bind the target to a purple dinosaur and buffer overflow his ass into the kernel plane. Shazam, just like that!

Ouch (1)

Hermanetta (55229) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483022)

Sounds dangerous.... one peice card skimmer.

Seems like it would make it easy to steal peoples credit cards, you no longer even have have the original card.

Fun uses: skimming, pick pocketing, "borrowing" your friends / enimies credit card, etc....

I wonder if you can read from one cameleon to another. Complete havok.

Re:Ouch (1, Funny)

Hermanetta (55229) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483090)

I guess I need a more sensationalistic subject like: "This just in, new tool for ID Theft just released!" to get modded up on slashdot. :-)

Sorry, I forgot where I was for a second.

Re:Ouch (1)

Hermanetta (55229) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483228)

Hey it was supposed to be funny. I guess funny is a double edged sword, love or hate, nothing in between.

(please dont mod me down for this one too.)

give up one digit or four? (4, Insightful)

Daniel Quinlan (153105) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483028)

and is unlocked with the user's fingerprint

I don't know about you, but I'd much rather have it use a password. I think most people would happily give a sufficiently threatening criminal their 4 digit PIN number (or any style of password) without too much of a fuss, but I'd rather avoid giving anyone any incentive whatsoever to leave me short one digit. It would be a very small consolation to cancel my credit cards after such an incident.

Been done (errr, thought of) (3, Insightful)

irokitt (663593) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483029)

That's right, this is the card that Ford Prefect swipes from his new Editor so he can hack into the basement computers with the help of his pet robot and....

This just in, new tool for ID Theft just released! (4, Insightful)

Tmack (593755) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483030)

To me this just screams Identity theft. All a clerk has to do is have one of these in their pockets and swipe customer's cards to get a copy of it. No more need to cash it out on the spot (as with carrying around a second whole credit card scanner), they can use it anywhere they want, and have it report their name on the peice of plastic. And by capturing rfid tags? Doesnt that beat the "security" Speedpass and others like it are supposed to have built in? This thing doesnt seem to check whos card its scanning in, just asks for a finger print. This is essentially a credit-card coppier thats pocket sized. Sure its a little secure against itself being stolen and used by ID theifs, but what about ID thiefs using it against other consumers?

Tm

Just when it was getting hard . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483032)

To buy RFID programming devices shipped to Mailboxes Etc. for my fraudulent needs, someone comes out with a nice consumer product that I can re-program to be other people's cards over and over.

Nice.

Re:Just when it was getting hard . . . (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483159)

Hard? Better go buy the Feb issue of Circuit Cellar while you still can. (Or just read this guy's copy of it [uncc.edu] )

Use fake telephone numbers (0, Offtopic)

Thinkit4 (745166) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483033)

For customer cards--most will accept a "home phone number". Try XXX-collect in your area code. Remember, /. people are intelligent, and intelligent people conceal identity whenever possible.

Stacks of Credit Cards? (3, Interesting)

wideBlueSkies (618979) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483045)

I don't know about other folks, but I've got 3 credit cards, a NYC Metro Card(transit fares), an Employee IS and a drivers license in my wallet.

I wouldn't call that a stack and it's manageable. Never even though of this as being a problem before reading the article.

If someone were to use this gadget, they'd have the 'stack' of cards, AND the gadget to worry about. Right?

Sounds like a waste to me.... Nothing to see here, move along please.

wbs.

Re:Stacks of Credit Cards? (1)

Red Alastor (742410) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483107)

If someone do have a stack of credit cards, he/she is better pay off his/her debts before buying a 200$ gadget.

Re:Stacks of Credit Cards? (1)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483229)

similarly, the target market for these "stack of credit cards" is precicely the folks who _will_ buy a $200 device (and probably charge it on one of the stack cards).

ATM? (2, Funny)

cybermint (255744) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483046)

How am I going to stick that thing into an ATM?

The Ident-i-Eeze!! (5, Funny)

tylernt (581794) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483049)

It wasn't insanely exciting to look at. It was rather dull in fact. It was smaller and a little thicker than a credit card and semi-transparent. If you held it up to the light you could see a lot of holographically encoded information and images buried pseudo-inches deep beneath its surface.

It was an Ident-i-Eeze, and was a very naughty and silly thing for Harl to have lying around in his wallet, though it was perfectly understandable. There were so many different ways in which you were required to provide absolute proof of your identity these days that life could easily become extremely tiresome just from that factor alone, never mind the deeper existential problems of trying to function as a coherent consciousness in an epistemologically ambiguous physical universe. Just look at cash point machines, for instance. Queues of people standing around waiting to have their fingerprints read, their retinas scanned, bits of skin scraped from the nape of the neck and undergoing instant (or nearly instant-a good six or seven seconds in tedious reality) genetic analysis, then having to answer trick questions about members of their family they didn't even remember they had, and about their recorded preferences for tablecloth colours. And that was just to get a bit of spare cash for the weekend. If you were trying to raise a loan for a jetcar, sign a missile treaty or pay an entire restaurant bill things could get really trying.

Hence the Ident-i-Eeze. This encoded every single piece of information about you, your body and your life into one all-purpose machine-readable card that you could then carry around in your wallet, and therefore represented technology's greatest triumph to date over both itself and plain common sense.

Ford pocketed it.

Wow, how convenient. (2, Funny)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483053)

Instead of stealing one or two cards (since I don't carry all my credit cards with me at one time)
A thief can now just steal my vault and get access to not only my credit cards, but get discounts at my grocery store!

I gotta go with the last line... It sounds cool, but it's just more hassle to actually use come purchase time.
"Honey, this was a lovely dinner of sushi, are you sure this isn't too expensive"
"No problem, I'm just going to pay with my pocket vault... and...uh"
"What's wrong?"
"I've got soy sauce on the fingerprint scanner and now it won't authenticate me and give me my credit card!"
"Don't you have cash?"
"I don't use cash because I have the pocket vault! AUUGGGHH THE BATTERY WENT DEAD!"

Re:Wow, how convenient. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483193)

No sushi for you! Come back one year!

Universal Card. (1)

wideBlueSkies (618979) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483059)

Here [accountonline.com] is the original universal card.

wbs.

Credit cards are free, why pay $200? (5, Insightful)

eddie can read (631836) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483073)

Let me list the reasons why

1) Cumbersome

2) Breakable

3) All eggs in one basket

4) A lost/stolen card is replaced by the credit card company. Who replaces that lost/stolen $200 computer?

5) What do you do when the batteries run out

6) What happens when the OS crashes and the information is wiped out?

So many reasons...

Re:Credit cards are free, why pay $200? (2, Insightful)

pboulang (16954) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483184)

1) Cumbersome

Picture shows that it fits in a wallet

2) Breakable

You can always use your real credit cards. What if a palm pilot breaks? You write things down on paper. . .

3) All eggs in one basket

Agree with this.. would rather not have everything linked in one breakable / trackable / hackable system.

4) A lost/stolen card is replaced by the credit card company. Who replaces that lost/stolen $200 computer?

You spill pasta sauce on your sweater, you buy a new one and are much more careful if it is expensive.

5) What do you do when the batteries run out

Considering the plethora or small handheld devices out there, why is this one so much harder to track charge for?

6) What happens when the OS crashes and the information is wiped out?

Well, you reload the data from either the credit cards again or the backup that was made

Re:Credit cards are free, why pay $200? (1)

eddie can read (631836) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483224)

Picture shows that it fits in a wallet

Cumbersome to use.

You can always use your real credit cards. What if a palm pilot breaks?

Credit card = money. When you need money, you need it much more urgently than you need your datebook. No money, no eat. No money, no gas. Also, if you have credit cards with you then that adds to the bulk.

You spill pasta sauce on your sweater, you buy a new one and are much more careful if it is expensive.

Prefer a free replacement, thanks. So I'll stick with cards.

Considering the plethora or small handheld devices out there, why is this one so much harder to track charge for?

As above, credit card = money, more critical. Ever lost your wallet? Remember the panic?

Well, you reload the data from either the credit cards again or the backup that was made

And in the meantime, you feel what we all feel when we've lost our wallet.

No need for recovery! (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483081)

If the Pocket Vault (should it ever make it to market) is ever lost, one should not use any backup to restore its values to another unit as the company suggests the consumer make. What they should to is to contact the issuer of every card stored on it and inform the issuer that the card has been compromised. The issuers will then instantly revoke the lost numbers making them worthless, and send out new cards right away.

That'd be the secure way to do things. Any computer backup of this device's contents is a really scary thing... it serves no useful function but is such a dangerous thing in the wrong hands.

If it goes by fingerprint... (2, Insightful)

eurleif (613257) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483086)

Then how do you let a friend borrow your card?

On no, not another learning experience! (2, Informative)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483092)

[..] and even memorize the RFID signals of devices like the Mobil SpeedPass.

That gives me lots of confidence in the security of Speedpass cards. I predict wonderful "learning experiences" as RFID reading/duplicating technology moves down to individuals. Of course, legal threats are already being used to try to keep that genie in the bottle. (Previous story on Slashdot about nasty letters to people who bought smartcard readers for legitimate reasons.) Sure, that'll work...

Awesome! (1)

GoMMiX (748510) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483096)

No a theif can cut any card they want - the initial investment will only be $200!

Well, it looks neat. But it also looks like a really good tool for theives.

Kewl as hell though, for $200 bucks I'd probably buy one... or two... or three... ahh hell gimme the lot of 'em!

Payment by cellphones will take off more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483117)

This seems like a step in the wrong direction commercially. I see the future as evolving to cellphones that do everything. Your car detects your cellphone bluetooth signal and unlocks. You have a java app on the cellphone to turn on the hvac system on your way out of work.

You rock up to the local supermarket - they rfid scan your goods and your cellphone pops up with a query "Confirm payment of $76.36 to SuperMarkEt?". Click yes and they're paid.

Cellphones already have fully featured web browsers, mp3 players, accept memory cards - etc etc. As much as we love to hate them - phones will probably end up being the all in one digital tool we can't imagine doing without.

SharedID [sharedid.com] - Single Sign On and Identity Server for web applications.

Fun with Fingerprints: Chamelon Card (5, Informative)

Burstwave (520213) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483118)

The Chamelon Card system uses a fingerprint reader to secure the data vault. Fingerprint readers can be defeated using a simple hack involving common household items. I refer interested readers to the following article: http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0205.html. [schneier.com]

I'm a fan (1)

ca1v1n (135902) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483123)

I really like this idea, and I'd hope they could add a feature for remembering passwords too (though I know those exist already) but the use of a fingerprint worries me. Fingerprint scanners are easy enough to defeat as it is, and if it's only going to be one person using it again and again, it may get even easier. Hopefully they'll work out something to mitigate this before they bring it to market. In any event, this would certainly deter the casual wallet thief. Once I'm out of school and have a decently paying job, I imagine the convenience of ditching all my cards and having functionally limitless capacity for them might merit a $200 purchase.

To quote George Carlin... (2, Funny)

Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483124)

"...get a hold of some fucking cash, will ya?"

Saaaaaayyyy.... (1)

TyrranzzX (617713) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483153)

How much memory does one of these devices have?

64k? 128? 1 meg? 2 meg? 128 meg?

Hmmm....a better question would be, does it support relational databases that store gigs of information, and hook upto a PC?

How it will really be used.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483155)

1.) tuck universal card under super-wide "fashion" watch band or stylish non-metallic bracelet

2.) Shake hands with your rich boss who has a speedpass watch

3.) Smile as your card copies his speedpass

3 1/2.) ?????

4.) Profit

~~ the h0rse has spoken ~~

Quick note about card theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483169)

Here's something VERY IMPORTANT that all people should know about credit/debit/magnetic cards.

There area plenty of card scanners that rip everything off the card, and fit snuggly into the palm of your hand. Much smaller then this device. So the waited picks up the card, and while walking to swipe your card, also swipes it along his palm(hand not pda).

That's why I highly suggest cash, and only using ATM's at locations you trust.

There is a huge level of parinoia you should be into about how and where you use your credit cards. Personally I feel safer using my card online versus most stores where I can't seem my card for more then a minute. With online connections, it is very hard to sniff all packets, then decode the information, and hopefully very hard to break into a computer to grab the DB/cache w/ that information, (although everyone is weakest at then ends, generally...)

So basically what I'm saying is, this device is not a new concept, it just allows for quicker setup and return. If someone swipes your card (through a reader) and you get the card back w/o knowing it, you won't tell the bank to cancel it. That won't happen until you start recieving 2k charges for something.

What about replacements? (4, Interesting)

sydbarrett74 (74307) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483170)

What if my Chameleon Card is lost or stolen? With conventional plastic, I can call the issuer, report the card lost/stolen, and have a replacement sent within a couple of days for free (be wary of those companies that would charge you for this service). What is my recourse with Chameleon? Ponying up another $200? Also, what if I destroyed my original cards when transferring their data to the Chameleon device? Is there an online backup somewhere? Or am I shit out of luck?

Start simple -- digital cash (4, Insightful)

code_rage (130128) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483179)

I think it would be much easier to start with a simpler problem: digital cash. I would love to have a card that can hold up to about $100 that is anonymous and which I could use for bus fare, parking meters, road tolls, or small purchases like meals. This would be a natural for on-line purchases of paid content (iTunes, archived news stories).

By being anonymous, my privacy would be protected (at least in theory). It would also be completely unconnected to my credit cards and bank accounts, so it could never be used to steal more than $100 from me.

This is not a trivial problem -- it has some of the same problems as voting (anonymity & non-repudiation).

I think this is already being done in Europe. If only the US would catch up.

Re:Start simple -- digital cash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483241)

If you have anonymous cash cards, how would you be able to tell how much money was left on the card? If there was no tracking measures on the card, one could "load it up again"

So you would have to track card number and amount... Now it is no longer anonymous, and you could be tracked by it...

A Lord Of The Rings Moment (5, Funny)

Valen0 (325388) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483195)

One Card to rule them all, one Card to find them
One Card to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Cameleon Network where the Shadows lie.

Keep it wrapped in tinfoil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483215)

Chameleon Network says this technology will be available in early 2005 and is expected to cost under $200.
And will track your every move.

Invasion of Privacy! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8483221)

Oh my god, this card totally invades my privacy. Soon, it will be required to do ANYthing at all in our society. The mark of the beast is here! Where's my tinfoil hat?

Terminator 2 (1)

Guitarzan (57028) | more than 10 years ago | (#8483235)

Hey, didn't John Connor already have one of these? His would even crack PINs and stuff too!
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