In the car I hired last weekend, it had a load of built-in tech – Ford’s Sync system – that was quite interesting, not least for the fact that it worked really nicely and easily. Connecting my phone to the car was a doddle, the satnav worked well (and better than my usual stand-alone device in several ways) and it all just seemed pretty easy.
However. It’s obvious that it was designed for a standard “family car” scenario, rather than a vehicle that would be hired to many different users. Which makes sense, but leads to an interesting longer-term problem…
Basically, people are lazy – and don’t think about their data. So the convenience of connecting one’s phone to the car system for hands-free calls etc is great, as is the simple download of the phone’s address book to the system. But if you then don’t delete it when you take the car back to the hire place, it’s all available to the next user. The same applies to the satnav system – ‘recent destinations’ is a goldmine of activity, right down to house number and location. (And I suspect, with a bit of work, one could connect the destination to a phone number in that downloaded phonebook)
It just interests me, how little people care (or understand) about their information. I cleared down the whole car system before I returned it, which took less than five minutes all told. So it’s not much work, but it’s still work, which most people don’t seem willing to undertake.
I’ve suggested to the hire company that it should perhaps be part of the car sanitising process when it’s returned (or before it’s hired back out, whichever) although I realise that makes it more hassle for them, and there’s a lot of different setups in the various cars.
Of course, it’d be better if people cleaned up after themselves – or the car tech had a “forget everything” button/process (although that would still be too much effort for most people) that did the job. But that won’t happen until people realise how important this shit can be, and sadly that tends to only happen by negative paths/occurrences/events, and will always be learned too late.
As I wrote a while back, I’ve signed up to the NSPCC’s “Climb the Gherkin” challenge in about eight weeks’ time. It involves walking (or, if you’re a lunatic, running) up the 38 flights of stairs inside the Gherkin in London to get to the top.
It’s fair to say, I’m having some doubts and second thoughts about the wisdom of it. It’s a lot of steps…
I’ve looked it up – because I’m an idiot – and now know that it’s over 1,000 steps to the top, and that’s making it all a bit real. There’s a lot of me to lift up that many steps, and really not many places where you can get to train or prepare for something like that.
I’ll still go, and I’m sure I’ll complete the challenge. It’s just that it might destroy me along the way…
Every so often, I’ll see a scenario that just leaves me utterly gobsmacked. Sadly, they’re usually based around security of some sort – for whatever reason, it’s something I’m generally pretty tuned in to, and aware of.
Yesterday’s one was an absolute blinder – and caused by a complete lack of thought/awareness.
While I was walking at lunchtime, the person in front of me was paying a bill over the phone. Using hands-free, so it was all done out loud. (I don’t quite get why some people use hands-free for conversations on mobiles while walking – particularly when they’re still holding the mouthpiece to their mouths anyway. People be weird)
That wasn’t so bad – he was entering the card details using the keypad, so in that aspect it was fairly secure. Not how I’d have chosen to do it, but hey, I’m not one to judge.
The bit where it all went tits up, though, was that the payment line then reads the numbers back to the user, as a confirmation. “If this is correct, press 1“.
It’s a scenario where the developers etc. have thought about how to confirm the card data, and it makes sense to read it back. They’ve just not seen the real-world situations where people then do these things in public, on hands-free speakers. But it meant that – were I a bad person – I’d have all of that guy’s card information (it even read back the CV2 validation number) which I could have made use of.
And in case anyone’s wondering, I did tap him on the shoulder when he’d finished the call, and explained that he really should get that card changed ASAP. If I could hear it, or if he does that on a regular basis, then the card is compromised, and it’s only fair to make him aware of it.
It’s up to him, of course – but the fact I told him his card number, expiry date, and CV2 (correctly – I really do need to get out more) certainly seemed to focus his mind somewhat…
It’s February 29th, Leap Day
Only four years ’til the next one…
It was interesting yesterday to see the BBC’s piece about the growing prevalence of ‘online rental fraud’ – basically, where a fraudster/criminal advertises a rental property for a great price, and people then pay a deposit for it without ever seeing the property – because it’s a great price in a sought-after area.
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
Yep – the fraudster doesn’t own the property, doesn’t represent the agents, and has no real connection to it at all. They’ve just grabbed photos, submitted the ad, and then people pay the ‘deposit’ into an account named by the fraudster.
Now, while I think it’s pretty scummy, I can’t help but also see it as more of an idiot tax. You’ve got to be pretty desperate – and pretty fucking dim – to put down money without seeing the place you’re renting, particularly without ever meeting an agent/agency/landlord etc. I know that these people are good at getting people to believe they’re valid, and that there’s this urgency – but really, it’s still taking advantage of people too dumb to look at a deal and think “what’s wrong with this picture?”
Maybe that’s harsh. Maybe not. For me, it’s hard to feel real sympathy for someone who just leaves themselves open to this sort of shit. Take a look at what one victim says in the article…
[He] said: “I was willing to take the flat without a viewing based on the location, just on the price of it.
[I felt] anger, disgust, I was really disappointed. I was thinking, ‘Wow I’ve spent money I couldn’t afford and what’s happening to me right now? I’m in a nightmare and I can’t wake up’.'”
I think the worst part, probably, is that now it’s been mentioned by BBC and on TV, it’s something that other scammers will look at and thing “Oooh, that’s a good idea”, so it’ll become even more prevalent…
Over the last couple of years, I’ve walked round the village fairly frequently, just for extra exercise (and also, you know, why not?)
Over the last couple of days (the days between Christmas and New Year, which I saw someone call “the festive perineum”, which amused me more than it should have) while doing that route, it’s made me think about just how easy people make it for potential burglars, just by advertising that they’re not home.
No lights, curtains open, even stuff left outside the door. It’s really quite gobsmacking.
After all, it’s not like time-switches are rare (or expensive) – they’re the easiest thing to use to at least make a house look occupied. Yet even that simple thing seems to be beyond so many people. I (kind of) get it, if you’re in 355 nights out of the year or whatever, that it might not be something you bother with. But it’s not like the Festering Season comes as a surprise – and if you know you’re going to be away, why not spend a tenner and at least get a couple of timeswitches so you can put on a radio/TV and a light?
Maybe (hopefully) these people have never had a break-in, have never known that icky feeling that someone else – someone uninvited – has been in your home, has gone through your things. Let alone that that person has then taken some of those things, and you have to figure out just what has gone. I hope that’s the case, but it’s still no excuse for being complacent about it (in my opinion) and leaving oneself open to the chance of that happening.
It’s no excuse for complacency, but then, people so rarely seem to need an excuse to think “It’ll never happen to me”. Until it does – and then it’ll be everyone else’s fault.