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THE BUSINESS TRAVEL MAGAZINE I 39 The Review THE TECHNOLOGY ➔ Card companies earning some credit


TRAVEL agents, travellers, global distribution systems and airlines are poised to enter a new era of credit card security aimed at cutting fraud associated with air travel, writes Mike Swindell. Visa Europe and IATA (the International Air Transport Association) are working together to implement measures that will do much to plug the security holes through which fraudsters can fish within the well-stocked pond of airline transactions. Having been involved in the


chip and PIN revolution that has seen losses from counterfeit card fraud drop by 63 per cent since 2004, Visa has been taking a close look at card security within the travel industry. While refraining to comment on


what could be fairly described as the Wild West of card security within the airline industry, Visa Europe head of payment system security Shane Balfe says there is much that can be done to tighten up processes. But he concedes that airlines are working in a difficult environment. "We are always interested to


learn about complex (card) acceptance environments and perhaps one of the most complex of all is the aviation industry," says Balfe. "Airlines have to manage many different relationships, such as ticketing, global distribution


systems, kiosks at airports and loyalty programmes, while also trying to make sure that the data involved is handled consistently from a security perspective," Balfe explains. One of the glaring security failures is the common practice by airlines of using a passenger's credit card number as a means of identifying the ticket holder.


"This is very convenient for the airlines as it is a globally unique number associated with an individual," Balfe says. "Unfortunately that brings difficulties when it comes to security because that card information can propagate


“A glaring security failure is the practice of using a pass- enger's credit card number as a means of identifying the ticket holder”


beyond its intended


usage. Whereas the card is very much intended to make a payment, when it is used as an index into other systems, the information spreads much farther than it


actually needs to," he says. Nearly two years of work with


IATA has resulted in agreement that airlines should stop using passengers' open card numbers for identification and settle on some other form – perhaps the encrypted card number or some other 'token' detail. Whatever element ends up being chosen should certainly prove more secure than the current system, keeping important banking details out of the hands that would abuse it. Work is also underway to


assess the compliance of other major industry players – such as the global distribution systems – that are used to process airline transactions made by travel agents. PCI compliance is expected to become mandatory for GDSs by January 2014. Further change is likely at the airport kiosk with a trial currently in progress aimed at adopting chip and PIN technology rather than processing purchases as an e-commerce transaction. "From these kiosks we are looking to implement encryption that captures payment details as soon as they are entered in order to protect that information as it is transmitted across the airport network," says Balfe. "This will mean that anyone


who observes the information as it flows from the kiosk to a service provider will not see any payment card data at all, which limits any opportunities for fraudsters to extract value from the system," he explains. Travel agents, too, will be included in the security campaign as it moves forwards, as Visa works with IATA to set up a trade portal designed to help them better understand security as applied to their own business circumstances.


52 I THE BUSINESS TRAVEL MAGAZINE


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