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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 24th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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UFB, routers and internet banking

1 June 2018

Welcome to the first day of winter... unless you're one of those who believe that winter doesn't truly start until the solstice.

Several topics to talk about today and first it's fibre-based broadband... the national UFB network in fact.

Reports in the media today indicate that although 1.5 million homes have access to UFB, less than half that number have signed up.

Why is anyone surprised? Comments on this story provide some insight into why the uptake is so low (actually, I'm surprised that it's as high as it is).

It seems that right now, the biggest hurdle to uptake is the lack of resources available to perform installations in people's homes. There are many tales of woe, relating the inordinate amount of time folk are waiting for the installers to get around to their connection. With the rapid growth of streaming services such as Netflix, I expect that the pressure on installers will only become greater and perhaps it's time to address this issue because once the "free install" offer runs out, I expect the number of sign-ups will drop dramatically.

In other news, a regular reader of great infamy (you know who you are) dropped me an email suggesting I touch on the issue of the router malware that the FBI is warning about.

As the writer points out, there is no reason to believe that it's only routers in the USA that have been affected by this malware so perhaps we (in little old Godzone) should also be taking care to ensure that our gear doesn't become part of a nasty botnet while we're sleeping.

Across the Pacific, authorities are advising Net users to reboot their routers. so as to flush the nasty code, just in case they've been infected. This is probably sage advice for Kiwis too.

That advice is probably very relevant in light of today's third topic: internet banking.

I suspect that all Aardvark readers have been using internet banking for many years, I know I have. It's convenient, open 24/7 and (these days) cheaper than "over the counter" transactions. Hell, thanks to EFTPOS, credit cards and internet banking, I can't remember the last time I wrote a cheque and haven't owned a cheque-book for over 10 years now.

We tend to use internet banking, safe in the knowledge that if something happens which is beyond our control, and some evil little sod (or Russian mafia-controlled hackers) make off with our nest-egg, the bank will compensate us for the loss.

Well don't be so sure any more.

According to this story the new banking code has removed that explicit guarantee.

Of course they're claiming that even though the words have been struck out, we should still "trust" them to do the right thing if the shirt hits the fan and we wake up to find our accounts have been emptied.

Cue Tui's ad?

Now they're talking like an insurance company who will promise you the earth to get your premiums... and then work like soldiers to find a way of avoiding any liability when the worst happens.

Can you *prove* that your OS has *always* been 100% up to date?

Can you *prove* that you've never opened an attachment containing malware?

Can you *prove* that you've never visited an "untrustworthy" website?

Unless you can irrefutably prove all of the above (and more), the banks look as if they're going to say "sorry, it's your own fault" when, for no apparent reason, your accounts are cleaned out.

I can imagine, in my case, them claiming

"sorry sir, you were not running any recognised anti-virus software"

and my reply

"but I'm running Linux, have an effective firewall and there are no viruses or other malware on my fully-patched system"

being dismissed out of hand with

"Sorry sir, no AV software, no indemnity and you should have been running Windows anyway, because that's what the bank runs."

No, I'm not kidding about that conversation... remember, the bank is acting as insurer in this case and they'll make up whatever "reality" suits their agenda.

So be extra-vigilant (as if you're not already) when online, otherwise it could literally cost you a fortune.

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