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A vital piece in the anti-fraud jigsaw

There is no magic bullet to stop online card fraud (Experts lambast fraud protection system, 14 April). All anti-fraud solutions, including MasterCard and Visa’s 3D Secure, are part of a jigsaw puzzle. No single piece is sufficient, but put some of the pieces together and you start to see the whole picture.

3D Secure is a small but effective piece of this fraud-protection jigsaw. If a cardholder is enrolled in the scheme, the merchant can authenticate the customer via their password. Even if customers are not enrolled in the scheme there is a favourable shift of chargeback liability from the merchant to the issuing bank, as long as the merchant checks for enrolment. These two factors make it overwhelmingly good value for merchants to implement 3D Secure.

It is not perfect – but nothing is. Merchants worry that the extra steps will lead customers to abandon their shopping carts and we have certainly seen cases where dropout rates increase after deployment, but this can generally be offset with careful implementation and customer education.

Another worry is that the enrolment process for customers is not rigorous enough, opening the door to fraudsters enrolling stolen cards themselves. This does worry me, although there is no official data to show it is happening. The fact that it can happen in theory is not an argument to stop using 3D Secure. Thieves can pick locks, but that doesn’t mean everyone should stop using them.

Akif Khan, CyberSource

April 28, 2008 in Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

Networking tips for Vista users

In response to the recent letters about issues with Microsoft Vista (Letters, 7 April and 21 April), I have experienced problems connecting the latest Windows operating system to a network, but have come up with a number of solutions.

My own machine at home will not connect to the internet if it detects more than one network connection trying to connect. It has dual Ethernet, and disabling one of those resolved the problem. Also my home computer will not connect to the internet at all unless the router is on prior to the computer being turned on – I always have them off when not in use having come from a security background.

My work laptop will not connect to the corporate network if Vista detects two connections to the network. Because I use a docking station, disabling the wireless card also resolved the problem.

Finally, a friend’s computer would not connect to her ISP, even though an XP machine did instantly. Putting in static rather than dynamic TCP/IP settings, issued from her router, resolved the problem immediately.

Emma Taylor

April 28, 2008 in Software | Permalink | Comments (1)

Being green makes business sense

James Woudhuysen suggested that the race for green IT is a fad that is narrowing the ambition of those in the industry (Race to be green saps creative energy, 31 March).

For Rackspace, developing a green agenda not only makes environmental sense but also economic and business sense. We have designed our new datacentre to our own specifications to enable us to incorporate the latest ideas in datacentre management, including zoned cooling – a more efficient and greener way to cool such a facility. Power will be drawn from the Slough Heat and Power energy centre, which uses wood chips and fibre fuel, both renewable biomass energy sources.

It is in our interests and the interests of our customers to work with suppliers to improve the energy efficiency of equipment and to seek out reliable, low-cost sources of power that also benefit the environment.

Doug Loewe, Rackspace

April 21, 2008 in Return on investment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vista puts strain on PCs – and users

I have been using Vista Business Pro in a development environment continually for the past year (Vista martyrs are too quick to point finger, 7 April). When asked, I had to advise a friend to purchase a machine with XP installed and use the extra money saved to buy a memory upgrade.

I like Vista in principle a great deal, especially the security, but there are issues. It’s a resource hog, making a blisteringly fast machine run no faster than a 1GHz machine; even simple operations like copying a file are painfully slow; and too much of my existing hardware, even though purchased this year, is incompatible.

I cannot recommend it in its current state despite liking much of what it offers. I would say it’s going to be SP2 before I get any peace of mind.

IT departments be warned. I know what I’m doing but it’s still left me wanting to thump something. Having an operating system that hinders rather than helps is something I’m not very happy about.

Perhaps it’s just me that is having the problems and everyone else will get on with Vista just fine. But I’m using an out-of-the-box machine, preinstalled and pre-tested from a very reputable supplier, and the software I’m using is Microsoft’s own and is not supposed to be problematical.

Microsoft, don’t try to make your operating systems like the Mac. People like me need a certain amount of control over the operating system.

I tried Damn Small Linux the other day. I didn’t know my machine could run that fast. I was just playing, but it reminded me of what the hardware capabilities of my machine are. Say no to bloat.


April 21, 2008 in Software | Permalink | Comments (0)

Phorm is thin end of Big Brother wedge

I’d be outraged if I found my postman opening my letters in order to send me a better class of junk mail, or a telephone operator listening in on my calls the better to telemarket to me. And yet that is exactly what my ISP, BT Broadband, is proposing to do – or rather, and worse, proposing to let a third party eavesdrop on my surfing for that purpose (Enemies of privacy, 31 March).

So I am defending my privacy from Phorm. We’ve been called geeks, and we possibly are; but this isn’t some geek issue, like Windows versus Linux, that is never going to engage the attention of non-geeks. This is a case of the potential for very serious erosion of everyone’s privacy; but where the geeks are the ones best placed to understand and counter the spurious technical arguments put up to support this outrageous scheme.

Phorm offers phishing protection that is no better than that offered as standard by modern browsers, and targeted adverts in a medium where all the objective information you could possibly want is easily available.

So we should express our ire at the government instead? Well, perhaps at the rather complaisant opinion that the Home Office gave of the Phorm technology. But if you’re worried about Big Brother, just consider for a moment what a wonderful precedent Phorm would set for something even more intrusive that the government might do; and then consider that sending Phorm away with a flea in its ear will equally tell the government “. . . and don’t you try that, either”.

Name withheld

April 14, 2008 in Spam | Permalink | Comments (1)

Taking the gamble out of innovation

It seems to me that the CIO shop is often the most disappointing part of most organisations – delivering incomplete solutions and rarely meeting expectations or the original business objectives. This is why CIOs are shying away from innovation (Businesses need to bet on innovation, 17 March).

So how can CIOs demonstrate that they can add value through IT innovation? By appreciating what the business wants to do in the future and aligning with it, as well as understanding what the art of the possible is and being able to turn that into reality – without huge risk.

Failing fast and running proofs of concepts as early as possible takes the uncertainty out of the process and turns innovation into a central business driver, rather than a gamble.

Mike Scott, Tata Consultancy Services

April 14, 2008 in Return on investment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Conserve bandwidth with smarter apps

While moving to super-fast fibre connections is one way of solving increasing network capacity problems, it is rather short-sighted (What will satisfy the need for speed? 17 March). It is just not feasible, or possible, or affordable, to eternally add bandwidth. 

The increasingly interactive nature of new web applications takes its toll on the client, the network and servers alike. The IT infrastructure is becoming far too complex, and instead of making major investments in a network upgrade, it makes much more sense to make better use of existing assets by optimising application performance.

Owen Cole, F5

April 14, 2008 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Most managers are clueless about IT

Kelvyn Taylor’s recent article mentioned company staff wasting time on Facebook and other social networking sites, and it reminded me of a recent event I experienced (Think ahead to avoid IT blindspots, 17 March).

A problem occurred where our office internet bandwidth was being throttled. After some investigation, my IT team discovered that someone using BitTorrent software was the cause of it all. We blocked the port on our proxy server, and all was well again.

The company managers were aware that web pages were coming up quickly again, but had absolutely no idea why the system had slowed down, and then sped up again. They have no clue what BitTorrent is, and are probably only vaguely aware of social networking sites. The word Linux will pass through one ear and out the other. Just as our proxy server filters out unwanted internet requests, the managers have an inbuilt filter to any computer-related terminology.

The top and bottom of it is, that they don’t want to know the technical details of these problems, and leave such things entirely in the hands of the young IT boffins who are performing black magic in the basement. Secretly they wish to return to the good old days of slide rules and writing with quills. They just don’t like all this digital carry-on. One manager I spoke to is still convinced that computers are just a fad that will go away in a few years from now. He’s been saying that for the past 15 years.

Name withheld

April 7, 2008 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (2)

Windows woe: an appeal for help

I was most concerned to read Ade Worley’s letter regarding the difficulty of connecting Vista to a network (Allow plenty of time to deploy Vista, Letters, 17 March), but also relieved because a relative of mine is having exactly the same problem.

He has spent hours on the phone with BT Openworld trying to get a connection from his Vista PC to BT Openworld, but with no success. The lights on the router are all green, but that’s the only success. There’s no sign of any connection with the Vista PC.

I wonder if anyone has any idea of what Vista is doing, or rather not doing? It would be useful to have access to a Vista troubleshooting guide.

Tony Seymour

April 7, 2008 in Software | Permalink | Comments (1)

Vista martyrs are too quick to point finger

The recent article on Windows Vista uptake didn’t surprise me at all (Vista SP1 fails to spark migration, 31 March). Everybody loves to pull Microsoft to bits and criticise everything it does. But if people instead took the time to try to solve the issues they have with Vista, then I am sure they will be happy with it.

I have four systems with Vista installed, all with service pack 1 and they all work fine. They are all stable, secure and have no issues whatsoever. And why is this? Because I take the time to solve any issues that arise instead of criticising the operating system.

John Porter

April 7, 2008 in Software | Permalink | Comments (1)

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