Thursday, 24 February 2011
Hooptedoodle #19 - Safety in Numbers
Foy's Ninth Law is:
Top-end technology is valueless if you man it with bottom-end personnel.
I'm aware that there has been a regrettable element of flippancy in some of the recent Hooptedoodle posts, and I am determined to get back to nice, opinion-free pictures of painted soldiers as soon as possible, but today's post is brought to you because I feel obliged - duty-bound, even - to share something which may make you feel a whole lot more comfortable.
It might even improve your day.
I know a lot of people worry about security - we know that we are being watched, that our emails are being sniffed, that International Crime is listening to our mobiles. Only recently, the British Daily Mail (bless them) were explaining how illegal immigrants spend their nights trawling through dustbins, looking for documents which we have thoughtlessly left there, which will enable them to steal our identities. That's right - steal them. And how are you going to cope with having no identity? If you were the sort of person who was unguarded enough to speak to a stranger, how would you introduce yourself?
This is a very serious matter. Characteristically, I have been giving it much thought. There is also the worrying possibility that anyone who steals my identity might actually get some use out of it (something which I have never managed) or, even worse, might bring it back to complain about it.
Well, it's a small step, but I have some good news. The credit card companies, at least, are doing their best for us. Last night I set about paying my credit card balance online, as is my habit, but found that the secure part of the website was shut down for maintenance. Naturally I was a little disgruntled about this - I mean, the whole point of the internet is convenience, right? - and, apart from that, I'd even made a fresh cup of coffee specially. However, these things happen, so I left it until this morning, and tried again.
Still no joy. Now an inaccessible secure website is pretty secure, I have to admit, but not being able to pay my bills is tough going. I searched around the website until I found the helpline number for the online service. After some delay, I spoke to a very pleasant, very correct young lady, to see if she could tell me when the online service was going to be back up again, so that I could plan my day around this convenient facility.
You will be reassured - possibly delighted - to know that the young lady would not give me this information until we had gone through my credit card number, my full name, the first line of my address and my mother's maiden name. Now that's more like it, I'm sure you'll agree. If, like me, you were worried about illegal immigrants gaining information about when the credit card company's website will be working, then this will be good news.
It did occur to me that the helpdesk will probably be very busy this morning, with people worrying about what has happened to the website, and that the requirement to go through The Security Procedures with each one may well explain why I had to listen to a few minutes of Mozart before I could speak to the young lady. However, I realised that this was not a helpful thought - just a quibble, really - and that I should focus more on the positive aspects of being protected.