When IT security fails

About five years ago I got a call on a Sunday morning from the bank that provided my credit card. Had I done any travelling lately, I was asked – to Israel.

No, I hadn’t been there in over a decade, I replied. Why do you ask?

Because someone there using your credit card just made an expensive purchase at a jewelry store. Obviously some analytics software had spotted an anomaly. The card was cancelled (and the credit card company earned my respect and loyalty for calling on a weekend).

That’s the way things are supposed to work with business intelligence systems. So image the anger reporter Ron Miller felt when his credit card company recently allowed someone to use his card 40 times on the same shopping site in India without raising a peep.

As he outlined in a column in Computerworld U.S.,  he suspects it was compromised in the recent Target breach. Why didn’t the credit card’s alarm system flag the transactions as suspicious? Because he’s a frequent traveller, the company told him. Around the time of the Indian charges he was in Barcelona for Moible World Congress.

Financial institutions spend millions on analytic systems to sniff out fraud, but Miller’s case suggests they aren’t doing good enough. He suggests some technology solutions.

I have a low-tech answer: I  call my credit card companies and tell them I’m about to go out of the country, just so they know if foreign purchases suddenly start showing up. It’s an inexpensive defence. What does that say about IT?

Read the full column here

Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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