Friday, April 19, 2013

TD Canada Trust and Online Security


For the past few weeks I've been unable to access the TDEasyweb site. Today I discovered that it's because "TD made a corporate decision to only support Windows and Mac".

I have a few problems with this. Personally, it's a hassle because I can no longer use their easyweb site unless I go borrow someone else's computer. This seems like an anti-security measure. It's extra insult because of the way it was not communicated responsibly.

I have a bigger problem because the response I got when I talked to a manager was that the only way of dealing with it was to write to a customer feedback email address. And the reality is, if not enough people complain, then they won't do anything about it. Basically, treating my issue as one of personal preference, rather than one of technical choices and security.

But on-line security is not at all a matter of personal preference. If a majority of users decided they didn't want as many security precautions as they've got, then would that mean you should remove them? I don't think so, and I don't think anyone else does either, but that might be what you'd get if you held a vote.

To add insult to injury: people don't use Windows just because "they prefer it". Most people's technical choices are governed by a much more complicated ecosystem of supply and capitalism and monopolies and corporate choices and evolving technologies.  And Windows computers are responsible for most of the worlds security issues - for lots of reasons. So TD's decision is reinforcing the serious internet security issue that we already have.

More specific to this issue - what actually happens when I try to use their system is that I get a "Error 324 (net::ERR_EMPTY_RESPONSE): The server closed the connection without sending any data." So that means, in implementing their new 'security' measure (presumably as a result of the Denial of Service attacks last month), I'd guess they have decided to filter incoming requests based on the user agent, and to only accept those that are in their "support" options. This sort of makes sense because it excludes old Windows IE users, which it should, but it's a terrible way to solve their problem, which it doesn't, because that's only a small part of the problem.

[Update later today: I've had no reply from TD, but a simple experiment shows me that my guess above was correct, i.e. they're filtering the incoming traffic based on the user agent string. I used the standard development tool with Chrome to use the IE9 user string, and voila, it connects. So my personal problem is easily fixed this way, and anyone else who's using a 'non-supported' platform. I'm really not impressed ..]

TD Bank Technical Department: I have written to you, please reply.