Identifying Cyber Thieves By Their Computers

Written by Evan Schuman
March 6th, 2008

In the ongoing E-Commerce battle to identify fraudsters as early as possible, one payment security firm is pushing a methodology for fingerprinting a cyber thief’s computer and to then be on the lookout for it.

The laptop label that the company, Cybersource, uses is not actually based on the computer’s unique identification, as such data can’t be easily learned by the clues they drop when surfing. Instead, it’s based on the intersection of several routine characteristics, which combined make it fairly likely it’s the same machine, said Cory Siddens, a Cybersource senior product manager.

Some of the individual details would include the browser version, the exact operating system ID and the time differential on the system’s clock ("clock drift"), Siddens said. Another detail might be browser language.

If a retailer noticed four different orders with different names and addresses, possibly even originating from different IP addresses, but saw they were all coming from a machine that shared some unusual characteristics, it would be a good reason to flag those purchases for additional inquiry, along with the recent orders placed from that machine, Siddens said.


One Comment | Read Identifying Cyber Thieves By Their Computers

  1. Glenn Charles Says:

    Combined with behavioral footprints this indeed would be a useful tool–and potentially merely a trap. Such tools always have false positives.


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.