Friday, July 8, 2011

Darn That Landbank Dongle

I hate the whole concept of using dongles for Internet banking. Dongles are such a hassle to use. You have to run the custom program everytime to generate the unique password just to login. Then if you travel around, you have to remember to bring along the dongle. Otherwise, you cannot access your own bank account.

But some overly-protective banks require 2 factor authentication -- passwords (what you know) and physical USB dongles (what you have). Landbank is one of these paranoid banks. For corporate clients, Landbank gives up to three (3) dongles for free. They use Transcend USB flash drives with a custom Java program (on a positive note, I do get to use the 2GB storage as my general-purpose flash drive as well).

It is probably not surprising that they use Java since its supposed to be cross-platform. However, installing it on Windows does require running some batch file installer. And this is where the problem starts.

The dongle program installer that Landbank provides is not directly compatible with Windows 7. It works out-of-the-box for XP, but it completely thrashes Windows 7. It somehow disables all the USB ports after installation. And since our new home PC did not come anymore with PS/2 keyboard/mouse ports but USB ports only, even the keyboard and mouse were rendered unusable forcing me to reformat the entire PC. Jeez! I hate dongles!

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