My convenience, your security

Last week there was fraud event with my credit card.  Fortunately, my card company spotted the attempted fraud and blocked any transactions – so no hassle arguing over money.  What it did mean however was that I was stranded, away from home, with no credit card to pay for my return train tickets.  Throughout the entire experience, security was a distant thought; all I cared about was (in)convenience.

Having been notified about the attempted fraud, it took me 24 hours to actually contact my card company.  This wasn’t because I was on top of a mountain with no phone coverage – or that I’d been held captive by the fraudsters – the simple truth is that I wasn’t that bothered.  It was so low down my list of priorities that it disappeared from day one’s task list, and on day two I forced myself to do it first thing otherwise I knew it would drop off again.  I didn’t know how serious the attempted fraud was – was it a half-assed attempt on an online payment, had they tried to access my account using my personal details?  I still don’t know exactly what happened, “security reasons” mean that I don’t get to know the what, why and where.  This lack of involvement is definitely one of the reasons why I see the problem as my card companies, not mine; and why I care more for my convenience than their security.

When on the phone, I went through the usual knowledge-based authentication.  What’s my favourite colour of dog?  What month was my rabbit born?  The usual process that leaves me feeling cold when there are much more modern ways of secure communication.  Hey, is it any wonder that you’re having to deal with your fraudsters with legacy security processes?    They satisfied themselves that it wasn’t me who’d tried to buy a Gucci handbag from a website in Guatemala or whatever had occurred.  Now they’d cancel my old card and strap a new one to a homing tortoise.  What?  Cancel my card?  I need it!  I can’t wait for you to send me a new one.  Obviously, I was terribly sad to hear of their security problems, not sad enough that to solve it they’d have to inconvenience me.  After much grumbling, and telling me repeatedly that there was no choice other than cancel the old one,
they eventually agreed to at least deploy the new one via homing cheetah instead. 

After hitch-hiking back home, spending another day grumbling about the inconvenience of it all, my new card arrived.  Security as the top concern, my card company has sent this using a signed for service.  So obviously the delivery person had scribbled on their pad themselves and left it securely propped up by my front door.  Convenient for them, convenient for me.  Not so secure for my card company.

Now those who know me, will be surprised that I’ve been talking about a credit card; I don’t actually use the card.  I use Apple Pay.  This was my next point of inconvenience, having to set up my card on my phone and watch.  Except that it wasn’t inconvenient at all.  It was either witchcraft or some sort of data sharing between my card provider and Apple.  When I selected to add a new payment card to my wallet I was asked if it was the card ending in the last 4 digits that my card provider had sent me.  Instantly I forgot about GDPR and informed consent and personal data.  This was convenient… and kind of cool.

Sadly, not everyone accepts Apple Pay – though happily, for convenience again, I can usually save my payment details with the service providers that I use regularly.  One such provider is the App where I buy my train tickets from.  Now this App is absolutely awful.  It looks like the train company asked their office cleaner to develop it for them.  And high on the fumes of Vim mixed with Bleach the cleaner agreed to do this despite not having any of the skills required to do so.  Yet using it means that I have access to eTickets.  No print at home or collect from the station for me – eTickets all the way… convenient.  Given how awful I said the development of the App is, I don’t really have great confidence in how secure it is either.

If I was a betting man, I’d guess that the fraud on my card was more likely to have come from the train company that Apple.  Though I also know that I’m using my card as designed when I fill them in and when I click the button to save for future use.  If the card company doesn’t use the best security, then it would appear that neither of us are that bothered.  Maybe convenience is best for both of us.  My new card details are now in the place where the old ones were.  The same pattern repeated across all my regular interactions.

Unless my card company changes to show me that security is important to them, and educates that security is important to me – mutual authentication as a minimum for communication regardless of channel, tokenisation and identity in payments, customer centric fraud prevention – then convenience will remain my priority and security will remain their problem.

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About me
Bryn Robinson-Morgan is an independent Business Consultant with interests in Identity Assurance, Agile Organisational Design and Customer Centric Architecture.  Bryn has over 20 years experience working with some of the United Kingdom’s leading brands and largest organisations.

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