Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Spot the difference

On the same day I visited Google at their London HQ, I also visited Microsoft at theirs. One of these two tech behemoths has an open ‘Guest’ Wifi connection throughout the building, that anyone can use.

The other also has a ‘Guest’ network, but theirs is password-protected; you have to apply for a password 24 hours in advance. I’ll leave it up to you to guess which is which.

I cannot understand why any company cannot maintain an open guest network with internet access. Even if it’s password protected to prevent drive-by byte-theft* they can keep one password and post it at reception. It’s totally bizarre. If one company can do it, so can everyone else. These concepts aren’t protected by law.

It’s the same with security online – why is that First Direct can manage an online banking system with a very simple login process that works from any browser, whereas others require a combination of key fobs, dongles and even (yes, that’s you Barclays) a mini-pocket calculator to generate a random password. Couldn’t they just have taken a look around at their peers and adopted best practice?

* This does happen - my builder admitted last week that he doesn’t have a working internet connection, he steals his neighbour’s; when he’s out and about he simply parks up in a residential neighbourhood and sees who’s got an open connection.

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