Saturday, October 4, 2014

Take My Password, Please

J.P. Morgan
Does the Secret Service run internet security for the banks? I ask the question since learning about hackers being able to penetrate JP Morgan Chase’s internal systems to get a glimpse at customer contact information. But, not to worry, according to the bank, the cyber-hackers only got information from 76 million households; in other words, they got over the fence and in the back door, but didn’t even make it to the Green Room.

Another big reason not to worry according to the cyber-geniuses at JPM Chase is that only names, email addresses, phone numbers, and street addresses were stolen. What a relief to know that the fine people at this 2B2F bank, the ones who have been paying billions in fines to the government for a variety of nasty goofs, if not outright fraud, didn’t give up my account numbers, password, Social Security number, or date of birth. In a statement to at least some customers on October 2, the bank said their money was “safe.” Phew!

As a customer of this august financial institution, named for one of capitalism’s grand poobahs, and once pretty tight with the Rockefeller gang, I can sleep soundly at night knowing that as of 5:16 a.m this morning my $322.23 was secure, waiting for me to buy half an iPhone 6.

I’m thinking that there must be a $350 minimum in order to have received such an alert, since I did not get one. I got zipski.

This thievery comes on the heels of an arrest by Rye NY Police in the Webster Bank robbery – we’re talking real, analog, Willie Sutton-type human robbery, folks – . It took RPD, the FBI, Westchester County and a few Connecticut police departments less than a week to arrest the perp, who confessed in a recorded interview. Maybe JPMC should give the team who caught that guy a call. Can’t hurt.

Some readers might think that I’d be more than a little upset to read about this breach of my privacy in the newspapers before hearing it from my bank; rest assured that nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, the whole affair has given me an idea.

After reading about this info-heist, I decided to check my account online. And you know what? I couldn’t remember my password. Has that ever happened to you? Hah! In order to change the password, I needed to give the online genie the street name where I grew up, which I knew, but the genie obviously didn’t agree. So, I named my first school, first pet, gave my mother’s you know what. Finally, down to my last “security question,” which is probably no big deal for hackers, I struck out on the name of the city where I was born. Duh.

This happens all too frequently to me, especially when I haven’t used a particular site in a while, or even when I’ve just changed my password and can only remember the old one. In which case, of course, you have to know your password or user I.D. in order to change your password again. And, the more you change passwords, the less familiar they are and therefore even harder to recall.

Sure, there are apps available to combat this kind of thing, but who’s got the time, we’re too busy trying to access our own accounts to check our balances, foreclosure statuses, and report stolen identities.

So, I think that the hackers may be on to a new business. I’d be happy to pay them a small fee, so I can contact them directly to get my passwords. Also, having instant access to my complete Social Security number would be a help as well, since like most people, I only know the last four digits, since that’s what I’m always asked to give when calling a bank (nobody ever seems to worry about security during phone call with somebody you’ve never met before who was vetted by the same bank!).

After all, by now these cyber-pirates, hacking away in Russia or Iran, probably know more of our passwords than we could possibly remember. And, does anyone believe that the ones trying to protect our information are smarter and craftier than these guys, or that they will tell us right away about a more serious breach?

I can only hope that, if the hackers ever do get that $322.23, that they also wipe out my $3,412 credit card balance as well. Spaseeba, boys.

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