The PayPal Security Key
The PayPal Security Key is a new tool to protect your accounts from unauthorized access. It’s part of the VeriSign Identity Protection. If by chance someone gets your password, they still need the code generated by this key.
The elliptical shaped device is small enough to fit on a keychain, as it’s about 2.5” long and 1.25” inches wide. On the back, you have your serial number, which PayPal has recorded on their end. On the front, you have a small LED and button.
The concept behind the device is simple. Rather than logging into either PayPal or eBay with your user name and password, you add a third security code. A new 6-digit code is generated when you press the front button on the device. The code displays for 30 seconds, which I found to be ample time to enter on the login page.
Alternatively, you can append your 6-digit security code to your password to bypass the second screen. The picture below from their website highlights the placement of the new code.
Setting Up the PayPal Security Key
I found the setup to be easy. The package you get from PayPal includes clear instructions and other safety tips for online use. You log in to a special activation page, which knows your device’s serial number. From there, you enter two sets of codes generated by the device and you’re set to go. You can also log into eBay and do a similar procedure except you need to type in the device serial code.
Although the activation process was easy, I did run into a snag. After linking my eBay account, I logged out and decided to test out the device with PayPal. I navigated to my PayPal page to log in as normal. The only difference was I appended the newly generated 6-digit code. It didn’t work. I then tried logging in as normal without the code. I still got an invalid login.
The good news is I did this test before I needed to use the device. I’m not certain what happened or why I couldn’t validate. Things have gone smoothly since I reset my password. What I can say, is my PayPal support was the weak link in this experience. On my first try, I choose the menu option for Login Issues. I heard a long recording that didn’t relate to my login problem. I also had a hard time with their phone system. On prompts where I was required to speak, I was seldom heard. It would be nice if they were consistent with their phone system so there was always a way for someone to press a key for an answer such as “1 for No” and “2 for Yes”.
When I got to a rep, she promptly transferred me to Sales. Naturally, the rep there knew nothing about the PayPal security key and was glad to hand me off to Merchant Services. The voice quality of that system was so poor I could barely hear the menu choices. I ended up choosing an option that took me back to the first menu system.
There is a saying that the “third time is a charm”, but neither this rep nor I were charmed with each other. I got annoyed when he kept cutting me off. His actions made me think the department is understaffed and under trained which is unfortunate for everyone.
The other problem was the company never sent the correct URL for the SiteAdvisor offer. First there was no link and then when support sent the link it returned a 404 page error. I sent two more follow up emails, but never heard a reply. This was a service we wanted to try out since we favorably reviewed the free version of SiteAdvisor prior to their buyout by McAfee.
Despite my 3 phone calls and 32 minutes with support, I would still suggest the security key. I’ve found this PayPal security key solution easier to use than virtual credit card systems. More than likely, my login problem is not common, as I didn’t see similar complaints online. I think the product is well worth the $5 investment.
Update: 09/03/07 - While catching up this holiday weekend, I managed to hear a Security Now! podcast with Michael Vergara dedicated to the PayPal security key. It has a feature I wasn't aware of which is the ability to use this key with other services that join the Verisign program. Just as the PayPal security key can be used with eBay, it could also be used with other online services so you wouldn't need another key.
PayPal Security Key Home Page
- Cost: $5.00
- Rating: ★★★★☆
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Last Updated (Saturday, 19 June 2010 09:24)