Feeds

Look, pal, it’s YOUR password so it’s YOUR fault that it's gone AWOL

Security begins at home... and ends up in someone else’s

Boost IT visibility and business value

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Dear Mr Dabbs. Thank you for your business. Please see invoice enclosed.

This doesn’t bode well: I am not the sort of person who is able to make private purchases on account. As much as I’d love to swan into a shop, point at various things and drawl “Send them over, will you, darlings?” as I saunter off into a waiting limo, retailers don’t seem to like me doing it.

Rather, they eye me warily as soon as I enter their premises. Their fingers move instinctively to the panic button under the counter and the store detective trails me everywhere with the enthusiasm of an Apache scout and the subtlety of a nightclub bouncer. If I fail to bring anything to the counter within two minutes, a whispered phone call is made, other customers move silently to the exits and I find myself stranded on the shop floor as the noise of barking dogs and an approaching helicopter grows ever louder.

Steady on, security person. I am just browsing...

I do not enjoy shopping. Going shopping is shit.

So it is with a little surprise that I am reading a letter containing a bill for half a dozen iPhones. Apparently I walked into a high street mobile phone shop a few weeks ago, bought the handsets on account and walked off with the lot under my arm. And now the invoice has turned up.

One call to customer services sorts it out without argument, as it always does. I have to put up with one of these scams every 18 months or so, and I’m getting used to the routine. The first time it happened, however, I was baffled how the scammer managed to associate his naughtiness with my name and address. According to customer services, he must have been in possession of hacked identity documents.

Showing ID, as anyone working in retail security will tell you, is irrelevant. Proof of identity and proof of payment are not the same thing at all. It is not possible to stride into a mobile phone shop, demand half a dozen iPhones and shuffle off without paying, even if I show a driving licence with a photo of the Queen on it.

No, all that has happened is that a disgruntled or dodgy employee at the mobile phone shop or one of his mates has walked away with armfuls of handsets, leaving a misleading trail of customer names randomly nabbed from the database to throw the scent before scarpering. It could be the shop assistant, the work experience kid, the delivery man, anyone.

Basically, it’s all too tempting. The goods and the customer database are just sitting there, pleading to be raided. Just borrow the key to each – or easier still, nick them – and you’re away.

The scam may not even be that smart. Every time I take out a phone contract with a new provider, I am handed a cheap ballpoint pen and ordered to complete a complicated paper form while the shop assistant toddles off to photocopy my passport and electricity bill. Who needs to hack into a database of customer addresses when the original paper versions are already kicking about the shop in various unmonitored filing cabinets and in-trays? Forget name and password, these sheets of triplicate contain my bank and credit card details, inside leg measurement and DNA samples.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Microsoft: Azure isn't ready for biz-critical apps … yet
Microsoft will move its own IT to the cloud to avoid $200m server bill
Oracle reveals 32-core, 10 BEEELLION-transistor SPARC M7
New chip scales to 1024 cores, 8192 threads 64 TB RAM, at speeds over 3.6GHz
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
Flash could be CHEAPER than SAS DISK? Come off it, NetApp
Stats analysis reckons we'll hit that point in just three years
Object storage bods Exablox: RAID is dead, baby. RAID is dead
Bring your own disks to its object appliances
Nimble's latest mutants GORGE themselves on unlucky forerunners
Crossing Sandy Bridges without stopping for breath
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.