#South Korea banks

South Korean ATM (Image courtesy of travelpod.com)

The security in banking here is a mixed bag.  Sometimes it is overlook, other times it is laughable.

In Korea, you don’t pay bills, you transfer money to a company account.  Amounts to the same thing in the end but there is a difference, subtle as it is.

First, just to look at the bank website, you are forced to install their software.  It is a combination off key logger and firewall.  Last year the government finally the banks to let people use a browser other than only that insecure IE one.  This is good news :)

While online, the software monitors your habits, obstensively to make sure nothing ‘funny’ is going on that might compromise the security of the site or your browser.

What is interesting is that unlike North America (or at least Canada), you don’t automatically get internet banking.  You have to ask for it.  It is an added feature with no extra cost.  They give you this security card with a bunch of numbers in a couple of sets of columns.  When you go online, the website will ask for random parts of those numbers.

The card you have will look like this but obviously without the dots :)

Ok, so once you have mastered this little bit, you also need to know that you have to ask for shopping privileges.  Yes, it is also something you have to ask for so that you can use your card to buy things.  It’s almost like “Well, what the hell can you do with your bank without asking for a feature?”  Desposit and withdrawn.  That’s about it.

Now, back home we have these keypads in which to enter in our PIN code so that we can approve the purchase that it was done by us.  Reasonably secure.  Here, Korea decided to get all “high-tech” and go with a digital signing pad (like you see with the UPS guy when you sign for your package).  The sad thing it that it’s a wasted technology.  The Koreans, they just scribble any old line…with their finger nail.  They don’t even bother with the plastic stylus.  Hell, at one restaurant I handed the bill with my bank card (expecting him to bring a machine to my table) and when he brought me back the receipt I asked him about signing.  He replied “I already did for you.” with a pleasant smile!  Yeah, it’s a pathetic system which just means, don’t loose your damn card!  To be fair, it is severely unlikely that anyone would ever do anything and steal money from your account.  That is just not the way things happen here (unlike that time I lost $200 from my account in Canada because I forgot my card in the machine and the cops could care less about it…).

The other day I saw something new and something that every bank machine and bank website should have!

Now this is smart security!

Sorry for the glare, couldn’t be helped.  This simple screen, shown when you chose the option to transfer, would severely cut back on those Nigerian Scams! 419 Eater does an amusing job at trying to strike back but having a screen like this would make a few more people stop and think.