mid-day editorial: KEM can't PIN the blame on lack of machines

By  mid-day correspondent | Mumbai | Posted  17-May-2017

Warnings about a sophisticated ransomware cyber attack affecting systems globally are rife. In the wake of this cyber fear, patients at the KEM Hospital, one of Mumbai's largest civic-run hospitals, are being subjected to ridiculous demands, as shown by a front-page report in this newspaper.

With ATMs running dry and no wireless card machine in its premises, the hospital's pharmacy is asking customers to hand over their debit cards and PINs to a stranger behind the counter, or figure out a way to pay in cash. A reporter from this paper was witness to this practice.

A man behind a counter was asking customers' for their debit cards and making them write the PINs on a piece of paper. The hospital pharmacy claimed it did not have wireless card machines, which is why the card was being taken to another place to be swiped. The hapless patients and relatives have no option but to hand over their PIN numbers. It is shocking that a hospital like KEM does not have wireless card machines.

This breach of privacy leaves people vulnerable to cyber crimes or card siphoning. No professional service has the right to ask a customer to write down their PIN. Once you write it down, a stranger knows the PIN and you are surely playing with fire because it hardly takes any time for somebody to clone a card.

If wireless card machines are unavailable, there have to be arrangements to take the paying customer into a room where a machine is, so that he or she is able to punch in their PIN number.

Though this may entail more manpower and be more time consuming, it must be factored in so that people do not have to give their PIN to strangers. It is of no use to say people can just change their PIN later. This is highly unprofessional. Such unethical behaviour needs to stop at once.