years ago we were criticizing the banks and large businesses
for being unduly paranoid about the security issues of the web
when they used the lame excuse about credit card interception
to justify their slow arrival on the web. Now they are doing
their level best to prove that they were right all along and
that the web is an insecure place to conduct business.
first whoopsie was when Halifax customers’ share dealings
became part of the world of “inadvertently open systems”.
also joined the fun by letting details of customer debit cards
to be accessible, prompting
ecommerce minister, Patricia Hewitt to get involved:
said: "We are exploring with the company how best we
might disseminate the lessons learnt to improve the
performance of all those UK companies who are rising to the
challenge of working online.
the standards of security of websites are not regulated, my
department takes seriously its responsibility for promoting
good information security to business."
Bank recent experience where users got to see other users
banking details provided rich headline fodder for the usual
alarm mongers of the media. The ultimate irony being that when
the withdrew the new site and reverted to their previous site,
another user got to see someone else’s details – but this
time the culprit was good old human error. Allegedly.
arising, these stories do not inspire consumer confidence in
ecommerce, and the paranoids have a field day. So let’s
answer to all this is a standard for security that goes rather
beyond the SSL (secure socket layer) that allows browser users
to communicate with servers with that reassuring padlock in
the bottom of the browser frame. What this means is that the
link between servers and browser is encrypted so that the data
sent to and fro is (to all practical intents and purposes) not
is the point at which the wicked internet’s role in the
matter ceases. The rest is down to inept programming and
systems management by the individual service providers (banks
etc), nothing to do with the net at all. Honestly.
the internet is only a fancy phone connection. It’s what
goes on at the devices connected at end that matters, and
there is no reason to imagine that just because Barclays IT
department was too lethargic to want to implement a decent
smart card ID system (for example), that the rest of the
internet is somehow any less (or more) secure.
media doesn’t start predicting the demise of the entire road
system and the future of all forms of transport when a motor
manufacturer recalls a vehicle to rectify some manufacturing
defect, does it..?
still couldn’t happen to a nicer company.
of August 3rd., Microsoft has 2 months to respond
to an EU probe into anti competitive behaviour
by the Redmond lovelies.
& Co. could be forgiven for a sense of déjà-vu after the
US Department of Justice decision to contemplate breaking the
company up into separate operating units. In June, Microsoft
was found guilty of abusing its monopoly power in the market
for PC operating software and uncompetitive behaviour in its
fight against browser software rival Netscape.
EU case is based on Sun’s assertion that Microsoft breached
EU competition rules by engaging in discriminatory licensing
and refusing to supply essential information on its windows
operating system. Users with long enough memories to recall
how Sun used to operate before its conversion on the Road to
Open Systems may find this ironic, but it’s a fast moving
business, and if Sun can longer enjoy its own private
monopoly, why should Microsoft..?
students pf the EU and irony will also enjoy this statement
from the EU commissioner Mario Monti.:
will not tolerate the extension of existing dominance into
adjacent markets through the leveraging of market power by
anti-competitive means," the Commissioner said in a
will of course appreciate that the EU is fascinating example
of a very nice legal monopoly, where mostly unelected
officials direct the lives of some 200 million “subjects”
who pay their salaries.
penalty that the EU is able to exact in the event of finding
Microsoft guilty is up to 10% of a company’s global
operating revenues. This is more than enough to supply another
Eu-funded international airport in the wilds of the Irish
countryside, or pay for another 10,000 olive farmers to live
long and prosper without ever growing another olive. Or fund
the commissioners’ modest Brussels lifestyles well into the
Whatever happens, the decisions will be appealed if they are
not wholly sympathetic to Microsoft, so as usual, it’s
Lawyers 99 - The