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Mastercard Plans To Say Goodbye To Magnetic Stripes In 2024

The technology that makes magnetic stripes possible dates back to the 1960s.

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mastercard plans to say goodbye to magnetic stripes in 2024
Mastercard

The pandemic has changed a lot of things, including the way we pay for goods and services. According to the Mastercard New Payments Index, 1 billion more contactless transactions were processed in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. What’s more, 45% of all in-person checkout transactions in the second quarter of 2021 were contactless.

Now, the global payments and a technology company has announced that it plans to start phasing out the use of magnetic stripes on its credit and debit cards in 2024.

As explained in the official announcement, the magnetic stripe will first start to disappear for Mastercard payment cards in regions where chip cards are already widely used, such as Europe. In regions where magnetic stripes are still used relatively often, the phasing out process will be delayed by 3 years. From 2029, no new Mastercard credit or debit cards will be issued with a magnetic stripe.

“It’s time to fully embrace these best-in-class capabilities, which ensure consumers can pay simply, swiftly, and with peace of mind,” says Ajay Bhalla, president of Mastercard’s Cyber & Intelligence business. “What’s best for consumers is what’s best for everyone in the ecosystem.”

Also Read: Abu Dhabi Has Dropped Business Setup Fees By Up To 94%

The technology that makes magnetic stripes possible dates back to the 1960s, and we now have much more convenient and, above everything else, safer alternatives. One such alternative is the global EMV chip standard, which was introduced in the 1990s, enabling cardholder details to be held more securely on small integrated circuit chips embedded into cards.

Cards with EMV chips are currently responsible for 86% of in-person card transactions. We also have contactless payments, which can be made either using a card or with a modern, NFC-enabled smartphone. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, many policymakers and retailers have been endorsing contactless payments as the best payment method available, and the trend will likely continue even in the future.

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New Variants Of Android Spyware Are Targeting Middle East Users

Sophos recommends Android users to never install apps from untrusted sources and avoid ignoring available OS and app updates.

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new variants of android spyware are targeting middle east users

British security software and hardware company Sophos has recently revealed that new variants of Android spyware used by the C-23 group are actively targeting users in the Middle East.

C-23, also known as GnatSpy, FrozenCell, or VAMP, is what cybersecurity professionals refer to as an advanced persistent threat (APT) adversary. Such adversaries are typically well-funded and well-organized, which allows them to quickly evolve their tactics to overcome even the most sophisticated cybersecurity defenses.

The C-23 adversary has been known for targeting individuals in the Middle East since at least 2017, with a particular focus on the Palestinian territories.

The latest variants of its Android spyware are most likely distributed via a download link sent to victims as text messages. The link leads to a malicious app that pretends to install legitimate updates on the victim’s mobile device. When the app is launched for the first time, it requests a number of permissions that let it spy on the victim. It then disguises itself to make removal more difficult.

c-23 gnatspy frozencell vamp android spyware middle east

“The new variants use more, and more varied, disguises than previous versions, hiding behind popular app icons such as Chrome, Google, Google Play, YouTube, or the BOTIM voice-over-IP service” explain Sophos. “If targets click a fraudulent icon, the spyware launches the legitimate version of the app, while maintaining surveillance in the background”.

Also Read: Dubai Establishes $272 Million Future District Fund To Attract Tech Companies

The information the new spyware can steal includes everything from text messages to the names of installed apps to contacts from all kinds of apps, including Facebook and WhatsApp. The spyware can even dismiss notifications and toggle “Do Not Disturb” settings.

Sophos recommends Android users to never install apps from untrusted sources and avoid ignoring available OS and app updates. The company’s own mobile antivirus app, called Sophos Intercept X for Mobile, can detect the new spyware as well as all kinds of other malicious software.

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