Security … For Whom?   Leave a comment

After I whined about clipboards being old-fashioned, my computer decided to exact its revenge. I was working on Monday, when my computer’s “clipboard” function (cutting & pasting) stopped working. When that happens on a Windows computer, there’s just one thing you can do: reboot.

After I rebooted the computer, I restored my desktop applications, which means I eventually re-booted my financial software, Quicken. And Quicken had a message for me. It had decided to email me a 6-digit code, which I needed to enter into the software within one hour if I wanted to look at my humble checking account balance again.

My financial information was being held hostage in the interest of better security.

But why? What happened? The details were all available when I went to the Help tab in Quicken (indicating that many, many other people are wondering what’s being done to their software). It was all online, in their parent company’s (Intuit) Announcement # 1319233. You can read it here, if you like. Intuit has decided to implement “Multi-factor Authentication.”

Let’s be clear: Intuit decided that my data in my software on my computer just wasn’t safe enough, so they required that data from their server be entered into my software to confirm that I am me. That’s exactly what their pop-up screen said when it demanded I jump through hoops for them:

Intuit 01They had absolutely no indication that I was not me: the account was fine, the data was fine. They just decided to force me – and all of their customers – to do something because they felt that we needed more security. This isn’t Big Brother, exactly, but it certainly is a big company thinking they get to decide what’s best for me, and then making me dance to that tune.

And worse, as I jumped through the hoops, they lied about it. They said I asked for this to happen.

You know how I feel about people who lie.

I never asked. Perhaps you could argue that since I had installed the software last year, and then allowed it to update itself into this new security configuration, then I had “asked.” But I would disagree. I didn’t ask. I just wanted to balance my check book.

Intuit decided, in the interest of “security,” that my password on Quicken (which is unique), the password on my computer (which is necessarily different!), and the lock on my front door (again, different!) is not enough to secure my data. After all, they said, they wanted to make sure I am me.

I was steamed enough that I contacted customer service, and Wena A eventually told me that this feature could not be disabled … but that I was welcome to tell customer service my opinion of it. Thanks, Wena. Really, thanks.

I don’t think this was about getting me more security. I think it was about job security for some programmers at Intuit. They clearly figured out a way to generate more work by making me jump through their hoops, all in the name of “security.”

No thanks, Intuit. This customer that has been with Quicken since I bought my first computer in 1986 will be looking for an alternative that trusts me to know that I am me without having to check for me.

Dr Seuss - You

 

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