Questionable Security

Feb. 15, 2017

In the space of a few months my credit card has been hacked two different times. On the first occasion some miscreant had charged a whopping bill at a clothing store. Fortunately, the credit card company contacted me and asked if I had really purchased that much merchandise. Credit charges were thankfully removed from my account and the credit card company later issued a new, more secure smart credit card.

Any confidence in the fact that hacking troubles were behind me was shattered last week when the credit card company called again. My new secure credit card had been hacked once more. The diligent credit card company is in the process of issuing another new credit card for me.

Hacking extends beyond personal accounts. A recent article on the internet describes an Alpine hotel in Austria. The hotel uses a card system for their guest rooms and the hotel was filled to capacity. Computer screens on the hotel network suddenly stopped working and a message appeared asking for a ransom payment to be made before the damaging virus would be removed. According to the article the hotel paid the exorbitant ransom fee.

Locksmiths can visibly determine how secure a lock cylinder is. A die cast cylinder has greater tolerances and is usually less secure than a brass cylinder. A high security cylinder offers more picking challenges than a standard cylinder. However, electronic lock systems provide few clues as to their level of security. Both of the cars in my garage use keyless push button start. There is no visible way to determine the level of electronic security which is installed in these vehicles.

The Austrian hotel is reportedly considering removal of their electronic card system and replacing it with mechanical keys and locks. Aftermarket tools appear which can service each new type of electronic security system as quickly as they are introduced by auto manufacturers. During the last few years millions of names and vital information has been electronically stolen from supposedly secure commercial networks. Each report of hacking only helps to make the public more wary of present electronic security measures. My personal choice is to pay with cash or checks and wait until such time as electronic security really means something.