Chip Credit Cards May Not Be Secure

August 5th 2016

Taylor Bell

Last year, millions of people were issued chip credit cards with the promise that it would make counterfeit transactions a thing of the past. But this new technology may not be as airtight as you think.

According to CNN, researchers at the tech company NCR claim that there is still a way for cyber thieves to gain access to your credit card information despite the presence of the chip.

It's all because of the magnetic strip on the back of your credit card.

When your card is inserted into a payment terminal, the magnetic strip tells the machine to use the chip. However, researchers say that "thieves can rewrite the magnetic stripe code to make it appear like a chipless card again," CNN reported. Once the machine is tricked in to running a strip transaction, the purchaser's data becomes just as vulnerable as it was in the pre-chip days.

This loophole exists partly due to retailers' failure to encrypt their transactions, "leaving the information in plain sight for a hacker in the retailer’s system," Fortune reported.

But this is not the only problem with chip credit cards.

Since banks began issuing chip credit cards, people have complained at the amount of time it takes machines to process the chip. While using the magnetic strip may take a second or two to process, a chip card can take an average of 7-10 seconds, according to a study cited by CNN. According to the New York Times, 75 percent of cards are chip-enabled.

Despite this inconvenience, the shift to use chip credit cards was all in the name of scoring the ultimate security. Unlike the magnetic strip, the chip creates a new transaction code for each purchase so that thieves cannot replicate it. In speaking with the "Today Show," Matt Schultz, analyst for said it's similar to "stealing an expired password."

But given this newly reported vulnerability, chip-users are now dealing with the worst of both worlds right now: the inconvenience of the chip, and the insecurity of the strip.