I have had a credit card for a while – it’s a necessary adjunct to life on the internet, I find. I have bought quite a few things with it online, and seem to have lived to tell the tale. So I was a bit scornful of the latest government programme to tell us all to be safe online.
It seems like another one of those ‘fear of crime’ things. There’s no point trying to reduce crime, goes the theory, because even if you do, the papers get everyone so excited about it that everyone thinks there’s more crime anyway. So try to reduce the fear of crime instead. Internet security is a bit like that. Those who have not done any online transactions probably imagine, from reading about it in the mainstream, that it is only slightly less risky than forcing your hand into a meat-mincer.
Therefore I was jolly fed up when the time came to try to get my credit card bill visible online. I’m delighted that my bank – Intelligent Finance – is protecting my identity. Really, I am. But here’s what I needed to do to register – and it’s way over the top:
- Provide a 8-character username
- Provide an 8-character password that included at least one number
- Give the answers to four security questions – I hope and pray that only one of these would be used when I log back in
- Make up a ‘memorable word’ – they didn’t tell you what it was for, or why it should be memorable. Still wondering how it differs from a password
- Make up a question to prompt me for my memorable word
- Make up a 5-digit security number
Almost all of this rigamarole needs to be rehearsed every time I log in. And what is the result? The result is that no way can I remember all that. So guess what I had to do with it. And how secure is that? You see what I’m getting at here? Come on, banks, get with it. This sort of thing will make people paranoid, and they won’t bother to use online stuff if it’s not foolproof.
You agree? See what some american bloke from the Wall St Journal thinks about it. I think he’s kinda onto the same thing.
And in case you’re reading this because you are after my identity, I’ve packaged it all up for you to take away. Please help yourself.