Monday, November 06, 2006

The Pinnacle of Security

Earlier this year the whole nation was converted to "Chip and PIN". For those unaware, this was the scheme which stopped shops using the magnetic strip on the back of your bank cards and your completely unique signature and replaced it instead with a little chip and a four digit code to use instead.

At the time there were adverts everywhere telling you how it was going to make your money more secure, how it was going to make sure your identity was harder to steal and how it would help you keep that athletes foot problem under control.

But, as I was using the cash point this morning I saw a little sticker on top of the cash machine saying "WATCH OUT: Who's looking over your shoulder?? PIN thieves operate in this area" and it got me thinking. Have we just made it easier for people to steal from us?

Now, instead of having to forge someone's signature to use their card in a shop, all you need to do is know their PIN. OK, so it was always possible to steal someone's card and then withdraw money from their bank if you knew their PIN, but if you were going to go in a shop you'd at least have to have the balls to have a go at the signature and face the risk of getting busted. I myself was once working in a shop when a young lad tried to pay for some goods using some lady's credit card. Fortunately, being the astute individual I am, I noticed this and refused to let him use the card - these days you don't even have to hand the card to the shop assistant in most cases.

People who have more than one card are also quite likely to use the same PIN for every card. Banks tell you not to do this, but I reckon there are still a lot of people who do. In an age where you have to remember so many passwords and secret words already, how many people really want to rememeber three or four different PINs as well? This means if someone watches you at a cash point, gets your PIN, nicks you wallet and heads off shopping they're quite able to acquire several grand off you if you've got a credit card or two.

And, how much easier is it for these people to steal you PIN considering you now have to stand and type it in in front of a queue of people every time you use your card in a shop!!

I don't know, there must be some logic somewhere, but it doesn't make sense to me.


Anonymous said...

I'm a master at typing my pin with my left hand covering my right hand. Or sometimes i type my pin but make it look like i'm typing a different number

bradfields said...

i never even really think about it. i reckon i'd be a prime target. i'm so impatient my finger is normally hovered over the first numbr while i'm waiting for the screen to tell me to enter my PIN

s0lo said...

who cares, until banks manage to change the law they are still responsible for the security of the systems they create. While they might argue the toss with you, ultimately if someone steals the money out of your account -its the banks fault! 8)
so gimme ya pin bradfields

bradfields said...

interesting, i was unaware of that fact. I want to know why they can implement fingerprint technology to pay for your lunch at Bish's school and yet they can't do that on your bank account.

So some people might be crazy enough to steal your finger but it would cut out a lot of people who are blatantly not that mental!