Over the past year there’s been a very heated debacle around the entire subject of water charges in Ireland. Personally I think the government managed the entire thing really badly, but it looks like it’s been more or less resolved now. Sure, some people are still very unhappy and are continuing to demonstrate against the charges, but I suspect quite a few people have simply moved on (though I could be wrong).
I registered with Irish Water months ago and opted for the paperless billing. I think I was given the option to sign up for a direct debit at the time, but I wasn’t overly impressed with their data protection and privacy.
So today I got my first bill via email:
There’s a couple of problems with this email – the very “generic” greeting smells “phishy” and my email client hasn’t downloaded a lot of the images (other people reported that their email client flagged the email as spam).
At a technical level neither water.ie nor the subdomain they’re using for sending the emails have any SPF records, so they might run into issues sending emails to several of the ISPs and mail handlers.
Irish Water have my full contact details so they should be able to email me in a more personalised fashion which would look a lot less “dodgy”.
Also – all the hyperlinks were textual ie. you cannot see what domain name you’re being sent to until you’ve actually clicked on them, so it would be quite easy for someone to use this kind of email to phish my personal details. Am I being paranoid? No. Just look at the data.
So I finally get logged in to my account. A relatively nice touch is that they ask you to set a custom question / answer, but of course the question / answer is one of the rather pedestrian set that practically everyone uses so again, it’s open to social engineering.
Two factor authentication would have been preferable.
Once logged in I can see how much I owe as well as being offered options to pay.
So since I am likely to overlook a bill (or simply forget to pay it) I set myself up for direct debits.
That was relatively painless.
But of course I still had an outstanding bill:
I took that screenshot just now – which is the problem.
Even though I am able to pay the bill online via credit card they obviously didn’t tie their payment system into their billing system properly. So yes, it will take up to three working days for the bill I just paid online to be recognised by their systems.
Considering how much money was spent on setting up Irish Water you’d think they’d get this right!