Cambridge refuses censorship on chip-and-PIN vulnerabilities

According to BoingBoing, the UK banking trade association wrote to Cambridge to have a student’s master’s thesis censored as it documented a well-known flaw in the chip-and-PIN system, Cambridge University’s Ross Anderson replied with the following:

Second, you seem to think that we might censor a student’s thesis, which is lawful and already in the public domain, simply because a powerful interest finds it inconvenient. This shows a deep misconception of what universities are and how we work. Cambridge is the University of Erasmus, of Newton, and of Darwin; censoring writings that offend the powerful is offensive to our deepest values. Thus even though the decision to put the thesis online was Omar’s, we have no choice but to back him. That would hold even if we did not agree with the material! Accordingly I have authorised the thesis to be issued as a Computer Laboratory Technical Report. This will make it easier for people to find and to cite, and will ensure that its presence on our web site is permanent….

You complain that our work may undermine public confidence in the payments system. What will support public confidence in the payments system is evidence that the banks are frank and honest in admitting its weaknesses when they are exposed, and diligent in effecting the necessary remedies. Your letter shows that, instead, your member banks do their lamentable best to deprecate the work of those outside their cosy club, and indeed to censor it. [Source: Cambridge]

The reply is full of win, academic world scores one.

Bank anywhere with Citi Mobile

Last August Citibank Singapore launched its mobile banking platform to enable their customers greater banking options. The can be seen as an all-in-one solution that allows customers to do regular banking transactions and get real-time information through their mobile phones. I’ll show you one of their key services — Citi Mobile.

Citibank customers can take advantage of the new service using their existing Citibank Online logins:

Citibank Citi Mobile login and front page
Citibank Citi Mobile login and front page

There are no additional tools to download and uses a two-factor authentication through an encrypted connection. The One-Time PIN (OTP) is sent via a flash SMS, an SMS that is sent as a layer on top of your browser for mobile banking browser-supported mobile phones. This would mean that you do not have to close your browser to check the OTP in your SMS inbox. Take a look at the screen shot:

Citibank Citi Mobile two factor authentication
Citibank Citi Mobile two factor authentication

In addition, no financial information is stored on the mobile phone. The security features of Citi Mobile ensures it is as secure as Citibank Online.

Essentially Citi Mobile is a streamlined version of Citibank Online targeting mobile users. You can perform payment transfers as you would in Citibank Online which is the full fledge internet banking destination for Citibank:

Citibank Citi Mobile payment and transfers steps
Citibank Citi Mobile payment and transfers steps

To use Citi Mobile, just go to www.citibank.com.sg with your mobile phone.

The following services are offered via Citi Mobile:

  • Card and bank accounts balance enquiry
  • Card and bank accounts transactions enquiry
  • Credit card payment due date and credit limit enquiry
  • FX rates information
  • Funds transfer & bill payment
  • Information on the best Gourmet Pleasures dining and other deals from Citibank Gourmet Pleasures
  • ATM and branch locator via FindMyCiti

For more details, check out Citi Mobile at Citibank’s home page.

Zimbabwe thinks $100 trillion banknote would ease cash shortage?

Money doesn’t work this way. $100 trillion Zimbabwe dollars is around US $33.

Zimbabwe introduces $100 trillion banknote

Zimbabwe’s central bank will introduce a $100 trillion Zimbabwean banknote, worth about US $33 on the black market, to try to ease desperate cash shortages, state-run media said on Friday.

Hyper-inflation has forced the central bank to continue to release new banknotes which quickly become almost worthless.

There is an official exchange rate, but most Zimbabweans resort to the informal market for currency transactions.

In addition to the Z$100 trillion dollar note, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe plans to launch Z$10 trillion, Z$20 trillion and Z$50 trillion notes, the Herald newspaper reported. (Source: Telegraph)

You might as well cancel 9 zeroes and make it easier to write.

$50 billion gets you 2 loaves of bread

…In Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s dollar is virtually worthless, with foreign currency now being used to purchase basic items. In the past, it gets you 2 oranges.

Zimbabwe introduces $50 billion note

HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) — Zimbabwe’s central bank will introduce a $50 billion note — enough to buy just two loaves of bread — as a way of fighting cash shortages amid spiraling inflation.

Zimbabwe is grappling with hyperinflation now officially estimated at 231 million percent, and its currency is fast losing its value. As of Friday, one U.S. dollar was trading at around ZW$25 billion.

When the government issued a $10 billion note just three weeks ago, it bought 20 loaves of bread. That note now can purchase less than half of one loaf.

John Robertson, an economist in Zimbabwe, said he’s puzzled by the introduction of the $50 billion and $20 billion notes.

“I am not really sure what these notes would be for,” he said. “No one now accepts the local currency. It is a waste of resources to print Zimbabwe dollar notes now. Who accepts a currency that loses value by almost 100 percent daily?”

In August, the RBZ slashed ten zeros from the currency. But the zeroes have bounced back with more vigor. (Source: CNN)

At least everyone’s a billionaire there.

Why a millionaire needs a bank loan?

A forwarded joke today:

Why a millionaire needs a bank loan? A lesson in creativity.

A Chinese walks into a bank in New York City and asks for the loan officer.

He tells the loan officer that he is going to Taiwan on business for two weeks and needs to borrow $5,000. The bank officer tells him that the bank will need some form of security for the loan, so the Chinese hands over the keys to a new Ferrari parked on the street in front of the bank.

He produces the title and everything checked out.The loan officer agrees to accept the car as collateral for the loan.

The bank’s president and its officers all enjoy a good laugh at the Chinese for using a $250,000 Ferrari as collateral against a $5,000 loan..

An employee of the bank then drives the Ferrari into the bank’s underground garage and parks it there.

Two weeks later, the Chinese returns, repays the $5,000 and the interest, which comes to $15.41. The loan officer says,

‘Sir, we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away,we checked you out and found that you are a multimillionaire. What puzzles us is, why would you bother to borrow $5,000?’

The Chinese replies: ‘Where else in New York City can I park my car for two weeks for only $15.41 and expect it to be there when I return?’

Next to be saved by the government: Citibank

The U.S. government announced multi-billion dollar backstop for Citigroup. Citigroup, with $2 trillion worth of assets, is the largest U.S. bank by assets.

Too big too fail again?

U.S. Offers Citigroup Sweeping Safety Net

The Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said last night they will protect Citigroup, one of the nation’s largest banks, against potential losses on a $306 billion pool of troubled assets.

Citigroup would absorb the first $29 billion in any further losses on these assets, which are primarily securities backed by mortgages and commercial real estate loans, with the government stepping in to cover most of the losses beyond that amount. In return, the government is to receive $7 billion in preferred shares in the company.

The government also will invest another $20 billion in Citigroup, on top of the $25 billion infusion of taxpayer dollars already made.

This time, though, the company in jeopardy is truly gigantic. Citigroup is the largest U.S. bank by assets, with $2 trillion on its books. (Source: Washington Post)

On other news, Bloomberg reports Goldman, Morgan Stanley May Want Citigroup:

Goldman, Morgan Stanley May Want Citigroup, CreditSights Says

A purchase of Citigroup Inc. would “significantly” add to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. or Morgan Stanley’s earnings as long as the U.S. government absorbed losses on the embattled bank’s assets, according CreditSights Inc.

Buying Citigroup “would be significantly accretive to Goldman and Morgan Stanley’s earnings as the potential buyer would be acquiring a significant future earnings stream for a relatively low price,” David Hendler, an analyst at CreditSights in New York, wrote in a report yesterday. The buyer “would probably receive government support if it was needed.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Erm… As long as what?

Citigroup to cut another 52,000 jobs

US bank Citigroup has announced plans for about 52,000 new job cuts, on top of 23,000 cuts already made this year.

Citigroup job cull to hit 75,000

Citigroup said the 75,000 job cuts represented a reduction of about 20% of its staff, leaving it with 300,000 jobs worldwide “in the near term”.

The cuts will come from redundancies, the sale of units and natural wastage, the bank said.

Citigroup has lost more than $20bn (£13.6bn) in the past year because of the global financial crisis.

It has posted four straight quarterly losses and some analysts believe the bank will not make a profit again until 2010. (Source: BBC)

My blog seemed pessimistic, perhaps I should post more good news.

Washington Mutual gets acquired by JPMorgan

Washington Mutual becomes next victim in financial turmoil. Washington Mutual is now the biggest bank failure in U.S. history as JPMorgan agree in acquisition for $1.9 billion, erm, only.

JPMorgan Buys WaMu Bank Business as Thrift Seized

JPMorgan Chase & Co., the third biggest U.S. bank by assets, agreed to acquire Washington Mutual Inc.’s deposits and branches for $1.9 billion after regulators seized the thrift in the biggest bank failure in U.S. history.

WaMu collapsed as its credit rating was slashed to junk and its stock price tumbled. Facing $19 billion of losses on soured mortgage loans, the lender put itself up for sale last week after firing CEO Kerry Killinger this month. The bank named Alan Fishman as his replacement on Sept. 8, agreeing to pay him a $7.5 million signing bonus and $1 million salary. (Source: Bloomberg)

I’ll save my commentary.

$100 billion Zimbabwe notes gets you 4 oranges

Wish to have a $100 billion? Now you can – in Zimbabwe notes. Gets you 4 delicious oranges.

Zimbabwe introduces $100 billion banknotes

HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) — Zimbabwe’s troubled central bank introduced new $100 billion banknotes Saturday in a desperate bid to ease the recurrent cash shortages plaguing the inflation-ravaged economy.

The new bills officially come into circulation Monday, although they were already on the foreign currency dealers market Saturday.

As high as they are, though, the new bills still aren’t enough to buy a loaf of bread. They can only buy four oranges.

The new note is equal to just one U.S. dollar. (Source: CNN)