A study announced today, by taxi app Hailo, claims that making calls on a Smartphone is now only the sixth most common use for a mobile phone. Which made me question – why it’s still called a phone! Sadly I fear it’s just a matter of time before we’re all carrying around ‘Smartscreens’ instead.
And that got me thinking – what else don’t we do anymore because of technology …
Who’s that knocking on the door
When I first started in the workplace, far too long ago, the offices in central London had a back door where a man physically checked my identity against my ID tag. Most mornings it was nice to be greeted by his smiling face, unless you’d forgotten your tag as he was very strict and followed protocol to the letter: no tag – no entry – no argument. Instead, you’d have to enter through the front of the building where the receptionist would sign you in, if she recognised you, and if not a phone call was made to your department for a colleague to come down and vouch that you were who you said you were.
Times change and for many organisations technology has replaced this system.
While some buildings still have security on the door, far more have an entry system where you either punch in a code, or you swipe a card through a reader, and the lock is released. The first method assumes you know something, the later that you own something. Neither checks you’re actually who you claim to be!
And the same is true for virtual gateways.
Every day we arrive at one electronic door or another, make a claim, and if we provide the right combination of data the door is opened and we’re allowed in. But what if we’re not? Who’s checking our identity against our physical features?
Used and abused
To illustrate both the points above – I recently discovered that my 13 year old daughter was happily purchasing books via the app on her device, using my account. She’s not a hacker, as such, but had overheard me talking to a friend about my ‘password system’ and had been able to ‘guess’ my password – a situation that has now been rectified!
When challenged she assured me that, whenever she’d made a purchase, she put the money in my purse. I asked her why she hadn’t just asked, or even told me, and she replied ‘I did – I emailed you!’ She wasn’t to know that I’d recently changed address and her messages were waiting in a mailbox I hadn’t checked for a while.
Ultimately – she was impersonating me and Amazon had no idea. The fact she’d not spoken to me about it meant it happened more than once.
Had she done anything wrong? In her eyes, not – her father and I, and probably Amazon, view it a little differently. Can I do anything to stop it happening again? For a start I changed my password, and switched off ‘1-click’ (which is a little frustrating) but assuming she guessed my password again she could transfer any of the books that I’ve purchased to her device, but not buy new ones. And that’s a 13 year old who isn’t a hacker!
So what can I do to protect my virtual self from someone else impersonating me? Unfortunately, not alot. But I think Amazon could! It won’t be cheap – which could be why it doesn’t.
Instead, it spends money introducing functionality that works on the myriad of devices we all carry in our pockets and ensuring talking is the last thing we do with our Smartphones.
While I wait for Amazon, and organisations lik
e it, to take my security as seriously as I do, I continue to remain vigilant. I regularly update my passwords and have changed my secret formula a little (just in case) and hopefully, one day, I won’t have to fear virtual impersonation.
Till next week, stay safe.