What is acceptable security?

2008-01-08 2-minute read

The security we use to protect May First/People Link members is not perfect, but we try pretty hard with what I would consider to be a good results.

I’m constantly amazed to see how much better capitalized industries and companies fail to take even basic steps to secure their systems.

Consider the banking industry. We’ve always known that the information that is on our credit cards - the same credit cards we hand over to countless people, the same information we provide over the phone and the Internet to yet more people, is all the information anyone needs to take our money. This should not come as a surprise, given our history with checks. The information on a single check is enough to compromise ourselves financially (thanks dkg for pointing out an interesting articles on the topic of identity theft via routing numbers.

The other day I read an [article about a credit card breach]((http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/23/us/23credit.html) due to information be stolen in transit between computers. My favorite quote was: “Wider use of encryption might seem an obvious answer. But in practice, encryption is unused at certain points in a data-processing chain because the computing power it requires can slow transactions.” Hm. I guess it depends on where you priorities are.

This morning I had yet another experience - this one personal. I realized that I didn’t have the flight number or confirmation of a flight I bought for my brother. I called the American Airlines phone number and, talking to their automated voice thingy, I gave the city and time of the departure and my brother’s last name and AA confirmed his flight. I had my credit card ready so I could enter the last four digits to prove that I was the one who bought the ticket - but apparently that’s not necessary. I considered calling back and saying a number of different last names to see if I could build a list of passengers.