Beauceron Security was at CISO Forum Canada in Niagara Falls last week, speaking with noted security thinkers from across the country. One topic that couldn’t help but come up a few times was Apple’s new credit card.
Apple rolled out its credit card to U.S. customers last week, prompting speculation over what it will mean for the company, consumers and other credit card providers. While it’s not available at home yet, plenty of Canadians are eager to get their hands on one — and with good reason! This thing is pretty cool, and it marks a major leap in the quest for data privacy.
What’s so different about it?
The permanent, visible 16-digit number found on most credit cards is no more. Instead, the Apple version operates using a token for each transaction; they specifically create a unique ID every time you make a purchase, and it’s not tied to any other identifier — making it a great way to protect your information if you’re dining out, gassing up or shopping around.
Hackers will be deterred from targeting these types of businesses since they won’t be able to monetize the theft of customers’ credit card information.
Perhaps the most important difference is that Apple, sticking to the privacy standards they’ve applied to their hardware products, will not (and in fact cannot) use this service to collect data about your transactions such as what you bought, where, when and for how much. Because this info is never collected, it can’t be sold or traded to companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon.
If you’ve ever wondered why you get ads after buying something even though you never Googled said item, it’s because the information from the store transaction is sold back and associated with your online ID. With the Apple card, no one is tracking you, and no one is hitting you with targeted ads.
Apple’s not-so-secret weapon
You may be wondering: is this just a ploy to sell more iPhones? Well, yes and no. Of course the goal of any corporation is increased wealth and market share, and the card service is paired intimately with the use of Apple devices like the watch and the phone. People are calling it Apple’s secret weapon in part because if it takes off and goes big, it will take a huge bite out of the revenue of companies like Google and Facebook — and this has long topped Apple’s to-do list.
Apple’s business model says, “Yes, there’s a premium price for our products, but in exchange for that we won’t give away your data.” So while there may be drawbacks — namely, the upfront cost — with a focus on privacy comes the financial burden of ensuring that security is the standard across the board.
A rare good-news story
The credit card industry is notoriously competitive, so Apple will have to keep interest rates and other fees reasonable. What you get out of paying more at the outset is the assurance that your data won’t fall into the wrong hands, and we think that’s very valuable!
Whether or not you’re an Apple fan, this is an unequivocal win for privacy. In a world where good-news cybersecurity stories are few and far between, this is an event worth celebrating.
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