Archive for July, 2008


July 21, 2008

It was a heartstopping moment…

I opened my bag on the train to get my laptop, and it wasn’t there.

Instantly I knew that it had been stolen. By an invisible thief who had walked alongside me to the station and had unzipped the bag as I walked, then unzipped the laptop case and sneakily extracted the computer without me noticing a thing.

Mentally I retraced my steps. From putting the bag between my feet as I sat on the train, walking back along the carriage, off the train, through the ticket barrier, back up the steps, along the street, into the office building, past the security guard, up in the lift, back through the department to my desk, where I had been rushing to hand some papers to my boss, zipping up my bag and NOT PICKING UP MY LAPTOP FROM THE DESK!

Aarrggh. I had forgotten my laptop.

My whole weekend plan was in shreds. I would not be able to review the emails from today, I would not be able to look at the presentations, I would not be able to finish a report. I would not be able to do any work for the whole weekend..

Hang on.

Er…That’s not so bad.

By the time I got to Perth I had a spring in my step. It was a beautiful summer evening. The sun was low in the sky. There were many strikingly pierced punks cheerfully wandering down the hill. The pigeons were cooing. It didn’t even look as if it was going to rain…

which was lucky really, because I left my umbrella in Stirling yesterday.


ID as in idiot

July 14, 2008

The opposite of Identity Theft is perhaps Identity Neglect. This occurs when people ignorantly or deliberately leave parts of their identity lying around for other people to find and use.

The most public example of Identity Neglect in the UK recently was a celebrated journalist who was trying to show that personal data loss was not a big problem. He published his name and bank details in a newspaper, to prove that there was nothing to worry about because financial institutions had robust security measures in place… Within 48 hours someone had anonymously set up a bank payment from his account to a major charity (and that was just the part of the story he chose to tell us about).

But small examples of Identity Neglect happen all the time. People still throw away credit card statements, household bills and bank statements unshredded in their household rubbish. People still give out their credit card details, name and address over the phone in public places…

On Friday I was coming home on the train, sitting near a woman with a mobile phone. She was in the process of selling or letting her flat in Glasgow. Her estate agent had left her a message to ask if he/she could bring round some prospective clients to view the flat on Monday (today).

Somewhere between Dunblane and Stiring, she rang the agent back and in a very LOUD VOICE clearly stated her name, the address of her flat and then went on to explain that she was going away for the weekend and would then be away for the next 10 days, so the flat would be empty. She was at pains to emphasise her concern that the clients viewing the flat should be accompanied (from which I surmised that she had items of value in the flat).

At this point she lost the signal on her phone. So she had to ring back.

It took two attempts for her to get back through to the right person, during which she repeated her name and address twice more….Just in case there was a burglar in the carriage who had been a bit slow in noting down the precise details. She ended the call by reminding the agent how long she would be away leaving the flat empty.

I hope she is not insured with us.