SafeCentral Locks Down Online Transactions

Thursday, March 27, 2008 by Mistlee

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David A. Utter

SafeCentral Locks Down Online Transactions

Authentium's Virtual ATM concept reemerged as a secure desktop-to-web application called SafeCentral, which looks like an ideal choice to prevent identity theft.

It's been well over a year since we chatted with Authentium about secure banking and finance online. I suggested people needed some kind of dedicated Bloomberg-style terminal to shutdown keyloggers, man in the middle threats, and other attacks against people.

Authentium happened to have that idea in mind in 2006, as their marketing VP Corey O'Donnell told me in a phone interview. The Virtual ARM idea has been "fully baked" since March 2007, he said.

Fully baked? So where are the cookies?

Turns out Authentium has been trying to sell their solution to banks that operate under the idea that two-factor authentication will be sufficient customer protection. Add in the hurdles of bandwidth, six months of vetting the technology, and the potential for people to need multiple Virtual ATMs to access each financial institution they use, and one can see why the idea hasn't gained traction.

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On the consumer side, people see credit monitoring services as something they aren't willing to pay for, since they know the credit card company won't hold them responsible for bogus charges. If identity theft was not a concern, that could be a valid point.

It isn't. Identity theft presents a massive problem. Criminals don't need to charge an existing credit card when they have access to an existing identity's name, date of birth, and Social Security number.

Enter the opportunity for SafeCentral, which should formally launch in mid-April. It represents a rethinking of the sell-to-bank business model mentioned early, as O'Donnell noted.

One installs a SafeCentral application on the desktop, which takes a few minutes, and then navigates to the SafeCentral website from the application launcher. A couple of things happen here: SafeCentral creates a locked-down, secure browsing session, which in turn uses a dedicated DNS service to avoid man-in-the-middle attacks.

The secure session launches in a section of available memory that SafeCentral first scans for viruses or malware. When open, the session prevents kernel calls that keyloggers and other malware would useto capture information.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a business and technology writer for SecurityProNews and WebProNews.
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