Late last week, Kevin McKeand, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Tabbedout, called me, prompted not just by the a story published here two weeks ago but by an announcement: the mobile application that allows patrons to open and close tabs at bars and restaurants is now available at nearly 50 locations in and around Dallas.
I took the opportunity to talk through some of my concerns about the security on the application. Whenever credit card numbers start flying though the air on radio signals, I get nervous. And what happens if someone steals my phone and decides to go to a strip club?
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So far Tabbedout doesn't work at any strip clubs (yet), but McKeand had some other ideas that bolster security for users of his app. First he says you should turn on the pass-code that locks your entire phone. That way if someone steals your device they wont be able to access any of your information -- sound advice for every mobile phone user.
Secondly, he said, Tabbedout has a password feature that you can turn on as well, so if someone gets past the first barrier they might be able to read the emails you sent to your mistress last night, but they wont be able to buy any drinks.
Hosting credit card information on the device (instead of on some server in a data center somewhere) yields another protection mechanism, though it's not protecting you directly. The thought is that if someone hacks your phone (and they will if they want to), they get one credit card number. If someone hacks a data center (it's been done in the past, too) they'd have access to the credit card data of every single Tabbedout user. Spreading those numbers around to each and every device reduces the risk that any one number will be compromised.
Does that make you feel better? If so, 50 locations in and around Dallas." target="_blank">tab away.