Saturday, April 26, 2014

Wells Fargo uses upside-down name tags to draw attention to identity theft

Last week, at Wells Fargo, I noticed that clerks were wearing their name tags upside down.  They said that this was a gimmick to draw attention to identity theft protection plans. 

I got around to doing the free annual credit report Friday, and found no problems.  All three bureaus ask multiple choice questions about the distant past in doing identity verification.  TransUnion actually ask the trade name of my “publishing company” back in early 2000 that carried my first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book and my “Our Fundamental Rights” book, as a multiple choice question. The answer was “High Productivity Publishing.”  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Metro Transit machine eating debit cards -- another security problem?

Last night, I had a misadventure in at Metro Center, in the Washington DC Metro, adding to my smartcard.  That is, the card reader ate my debit card.  I had to wait forty minutes for a technician to come to open the machine and get the card out. 
It turns out there was a regular ticket below the debit card, so apparently the magnetic ticket messed up the machine.  That raises the idea that a thief might insert thin paper cards in the credit and debit card receptacles, with the idea of returning and somehow getting the debit cards out and using them.

Curiously, the machine did not even go out of order, fooling other consumers. 
I was on the way home.  Had I been on the way to a paid event, I would have had to either forfeit the ticket or leave the debit card at risk until I could get it canceled on a computer.  I’m not set up yet to do this on a mobile phone.  Maybe I should be.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Biometric validation, even heart rhythm, could replace passwords with online processing, stopping a lot of identity theft cold

Websites in the future may turn to biometric validation rather than passwords, as a way to protect against hackers and particularly identity theft. 

CNN has a big story here.

Four of these are ear shape, typing speed, facial recognition (in use at some facilities), and walk or gait.  One could add retinal scans to that,  which is coming into use (and is sometimes shown in the movies).  It’s hard to see how walk or typing speed could be unique enough.
But the most curious innovation is to use heart beat or electrocardiography for identification. The CNN story shows a wristwatch, rather light and narrow, from Bionym, with the "Getnymi" website here  for pre-order.  
There is smartphone electrocardiography, but I’m amazed that one could identify a person from their heart dynamics with a tiny sensor underneath a wrist.  Maybe a sensor held on the neck near the carotid artery could make sense.   Typically, a medical electrocardiogram requires 10-12 leads, including 6-8 in the chest area, although sometimes only  2 or 3 are used, as for conscious sedation during long dental procedures.  Heart rate and rhythm vary with activity and body chemistry.  It’s hard to believe that it can be unique.  Sometimes heart patients are monitored for a few days with a Holter device, which requires shaving the chest before.  It’s curious that the video shows a hairy man as the actor. 


This little technological development should be watched to see if it is for real.  But the medical questions make me wonder. 

Wikipedia attribution links (1 and 2) for Holter pictures.