Magensa has designed a new security system for home banking that uses the magnetic stripe on your credit cards in a new way. Instead of just reading the magnetically encoded numbers, the Magensa system takes a “fingerprint” (or, rather, a MagnePrint) of the individual magnetic domains on your credit card’s swipe stripe. This information is then encrypted and sent to your bank, where it’s decrypted and compared with a template that’s on file. If the two match, then your card is assumed to be legitimate.
The basis of the Magensa system is the twin observations that no two credit cards are exactly the same and that practically everybody in the United States over the age of 18 has at least some kind of plastic with some kind of magnetic strip in his or her pocket.
The Magensa technology could be used to combat phishing, to improve the security of home banking, or even as a way of proving your identity to specialty websites. The only problem with the technology is that you need to have one of Magensa’s special USB swipe readers on your home PC. In the past, e-commerce and security systems that have required special hardware have worked well in business but have failed at home: people don’t buy the equipment. Even when it’s provided for free, it doesn’t get installed because of either laziness or software incompatibility.
Still, it will be interesting to see if the Magensa system actually works. We certainly need some way of authenticating home users that’s better than user names and passwords.
Geoffrey Hinton tells us why he’s now scared of the tech he helped build
“I have suddenly switched my views on whether these things are going to be more intelligent than us.”
ChatGPT is going to change education, not destroy it
The narrative around cheating students doesn’t tell the whole story. Meet the teachers who think generative AI could actually make learning better.
Meet the people who use Notion to plan their whole lives
The workplace tool’s appeal extends far beyond organizing work projects. Many users find it’s just as useful for managing their free time.
Learning to code isn’t enough
Historically, learn-to-code efforts have provided opportunities for the few, but new efforts are aiming to be inclusive.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.