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17 November 2007

Bollocks security

Continuing the theme of e-mail/Internet security.

Tonight I wanted to set up a new bill payment. The bank, in response to customer paranoia about Internet security and phishing attacks now require me to carry my bank cards and their calculator like number generator that I now have to take with me on business if I want to set up a bill payment. No thanks. No, I don't want to trail a variety of calculator like devices around with me one for each account or service I might want to use. I think the encryption offered by the bank site together with the random letters and digits from a security password is secure enough.

However, aside from that, let us now look at the two options the bank presents:

1. Log onto the website, have it over a secure encrypted channel, type in a customer number securely, random digits from two separate passwords securely and use the calculator device to randomly generate a number. Pretty secure huh?

2. Alternatively, use a phone, have the conversation in clear text, have the audible key presses recordable by anyone in earshot with a microphone, no need for the card reader calculator device either. Set up bill payment successfully.

Does the analogy of having 50 billion million trillion zillion locks on your front door and only 1 on your back door apply here?

Which way do you think a burglar would want to break in?

Why do banks and other sites continue to believe that the phone is a secure means of communication?
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