A time to breath

I am just now taking a few minutes (roughly 32.4) break from my UNI assignment. I have way to go and I should be OK to get it all done in time. These are also the moments when a person, no matter how driven to get the assignment done, will start worrying about the proper tense of it all. I procrastinate, he procrastinates, she procrastinates, we all look at Facebook, the Guardian, YouTube and whatever other non-University virtual place we can think of.

I do it every two hours to keep my mind slightly more alert than usual. Assignments can be dull dreary and often nerve wrecking and if we do not take a little look out of the window, we go bonkers (for Americans: that means ‘loony tunes’).

The topic of news are the beheading of a US reporter by ISIS, air strikes batter Hamas and something about Sainsbury and credit card fraud. If you do not know that ISIS is a massive threat, then feel free to hide back under your rock, if you think that there can be peace between Hamas and Israel, then please say hi to Professor Minerva McGonagall from me when you get back to Hogwarts and enjoy the ‘reality’ of magic, muggles and feast over the death of he-who-should-not-be-named.

The Sainsbury issue is however a massively different slice of pie, and I will take a bite out of that one. It is yesterday’s pie, but it seems to have the good taste of ‘are you for real?‘ whilst having a glass of ‘someone better start waking up soon there‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/aug/20/sainsburys-bank-security-fraud-transfer-credit-limit).

The first quote that I have an issue with is almost at the end of that article, where it states “Sainsbury’s, which has run its own banking operation since 2013, might now want to look at its security measures“. How about “Dear Sainsbury bank, in light of the information we currently have, we will feel a sense of utter joy to permanently shut you down in 48 hours if you do not wake the flip up and get your hat on straight! Kind regards the office of common sense and persecutors of dumb, dumber and the flatulently moronic

This is not 2001 or 2003, it is 2013 and the dangers of cybercrime, identity fraud and other mismanaged works by those who acquire that what others own, has been in operation since the late 90’s and the article, if correct has all the makings of a new season of ‘the Office‘.

The quote “At no time was I asked the further security questions that only I could answer“, which implies that the security of ones birthdate is as dangerous as it is futile. Many people seem to hand over that information to Facebook (that open message and personal detail place which was created in 2004). The fact that the automation and security process of commonwealth welfare is stellar-sized more advanced above the implied security of the Sainsbury bank should give credit to levels of Howling laughter from Edinburgh (random place to the north), which the people in London would hear.

So, that’s enough rant for a few minutes!

The issue remains how ‘a bank’ had not been vetted beyond the points of common cyber sense, as well as allow certain changes (like increasing credit limit) other than in person to the place where the credit was offered in the first place. I must stress out here, that I am going by the Guardian article, so if their information is incomplete, then so will be the info you read here. Yet, if we see some place called ‘the northern echo’ (at http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/8423732.Sainsbury___s_hit_by_credit_card_scam/), then we see more issues with Sainsbury and well before 2013, which means that there is at least one watchdog that seems to be asleep at the helm. A quote from the echo is “The court heard that the scam was costing Sainsbury’s £12,000 a week in the North- East alone“, which implies that it is costing them a bundle, so we should take a step back and wonder how asleep some of these people are.

There is however WestpacSlota larger issue that is not being addressed. We have seen that ATM’s have been the target of several options. In Australia, Westpac came with a novel idea that prevents someone adding a skimming slot in front of the card reader of an ATM that is quite ingenious (see pic),

but overall the ATM has not been too overly developed. There was a time when I saw that the AMEX cards had a hologram, but the newer systems which are all about waving in front of a scanner open up many other criminal endeavours of exploitation of your bank account. The fact that seems to be implied is that Sainsbury, even today, remains a decade behind is cause for massive concern. This all will give rise to the question on how long it will take, before insurance companies take enough offense and no longer pay banks for their shortcomings, then what?

Here is see instant fortune for the one innovator that can truly show us a new way on digital transactions that allow for a new (or upgraded) system that is about safety and security, not about speed of transaction. Consider that golden idea that will keep trillions of transactions safe. Even if you only get $0.01 per transaction, you would end up wealthier then Bill Gates in less than two years (greed tends to be a great motivator).

Is there anything we can do? Well, the Sainsbury issue is a little extreme, but overall banks are getting better at upgrading security, yet there are a few things you can do. First of all, limit the location of your card, so that you can only use it national. Yes, it looks so cool that you can use it all over Europe, but if you are stuck in Stratford-upon-Avon and you have yet to write your first book, then it is highly likely that you cannot afford distant travels, which means that your card only needs to work in the UK (or whatever country you live in). Second, cyber criminals tend to spy on your computer if they can. So, when you are not using your computer, shut it down. It seems so cool to have it ready at a moment’s notice, yet that thing actually uses a fair bit of electricity and when you are not using your computer at night, it could be used to see if you have passwords and account details somewhere. Not the thing you want to leave unattended. Today, people leaving their smartphone unattended (I mean no pin or password), which is even more reckless nowadays. Even having more ‘renowned’ apps are getting to be more and more questionable (reference to my ‘No Press, No Facebook!‘ blog of August 10th), how long until someone slips in an app, to piggy onto some banks wave and pay app (a way to pay using the mobile phone by waving it in front of a scanner)? These are technologies that are possible today (whilst Sainsbury is an implied decade behind).

So, we should all take a moment to breath (except Sainsbury who apparently need to update their security) and consider the financial links we now have and when we last checked them for correctness of transactions, more important, what other card options do you have where people can too easily take your cash for a ride? I am referring to possible fuel cards, book club cards and other cards where you do not get the invoice immediately, so you might get a nasty sting when you open ‘that’ letter next week wondering when you had that complementary 50 pound dinner as a new member. It is the unspoken danger of having too much info on open social media, some banks seem not to have been updated and likely other providers could well be lacking in security procedures too.

Did you take time to breath?



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Filed under Finance, IT, Science

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