Monday, 18 November 2013

What price security?

I have read recently of an Englishman who was being pursued by the German tax authorities for payment of £134,000 which they claimed was owing to them. Value Added Tax - or whatever it is called in Germany - or something like that. This had all come about since his passport was stolen some years ago and another person had assumed his identity.

Then there was the instance very recently when a friend received an email from a friend of his asking for money to be sent to him as he was in Rome and all his things had been stolen. Of course, this was immediately recognised as a scam, somebody having managed to hack into the poor guy's email details.

These are but two recent examples of identities being stolen - and they do make me wonder just how much information one should disclose on social networking sites such as Facebook - or even Blogger. When I think of all the so-called security questions to which some web sites want answers, I wonder just how good their security is. How do we know what controls are exercised over the information? And in any case, how many other people out there in the wide, wicked world are capable of finding out very easily what my mother's maiden name was? Or my first school? It's all very well those sites asking for the name of a favourite place or some such, but how can I be expected to remember that sort of thing seven, eight or nine years down the line?

Then we are told that we should have a different password for each password-protected site - and that those passwords should be changed regularly! It's bad enough having to remember my PIN for the credit and debit cards - five, at the last count. I think. I'm told I could change these at a cash machine, but if I use the same PIN for each card and something goes wrong, I stand to lose a lot of money. Or, at the very least, have a load of aggro that I don't need. There have been two occasions when somebody has tried to clone a card of mine, successfully on one of them.

The first occasion was when the Old Bat and I had taken my cousin and her husband out for a meal while we were staying with them on the farm. When I came to pay the bill, the credit card company wanted to speak to me. Had I used my card recently to buy something very cheap? No, said I, and proceeded to tell them the last two or three times I had used the card, even telling them just how much had been spent as I still had the slips in my wallet. It transpired that somebody had cloned my card and tried a transaction for 1p just to see if the details were correct.

On the second occasion I had checked my credit card account online - and was horrified to see that I had bought plane tickets and various other things in Madrid - a city I have never visited. The money was immediately refunded, but it has all made me rather wary. And yes, I do have different passwords for each site. I use a combination of the site's address and an old car registration number which I just happen to remember from about 30 years ago. I'm reasonably sure that it would be more trouble than it's worth to try hacking that.


Today I shall indulge myself and psot another picture of my 6-year-old granddaughter.

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