Thursday, January 15, 2009

Strong passwords? Forbidden!

American Express, as a bank and card issuer should be a fairly security sensitive company. Right? Well, it looks like they have not yet learned their lesson. Occasionally, I log in to my AmEx account to gain access to memebership rewards (these nice gimmicks that shall trick you into charging to AmEx as much as possible). I tend to have my credentials not at hand when doing so, but thankfully AmEx has a quite secure system to recover your credentials.

What really bugs me is their password requirement. A password can have a maximum of 8 characters and consist only of letters and numbers! Ouch... what about strong passwords? They are simply forbidden by AmEx. The funny thing is that the web site doesn't even complain when you enter a too-strong (aka longer or alphanumeric) password. It simply ignores the extra characters. Some time last year this drove me crazy as I could not log in after changing my password. Guess what, I used a too strong one and of course it didn't match to what the system generated. I called customer service and also complained about being forced to use insecure passwords. That was several month ago.

New year, new try - old problem... Nothing learned, still 8 chars max and only letters and number. Frankly, AmEx, who is advising you on security? I really wonder if under US law AmEx is responsible if someone breaks into my account. I think they should...

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