Company officials have admitted that the Microsoft Passport "wallet", launched in Australia yesterday, and which stores a user's credit card and personal information, may be open to hackers who could guess the single password protecting the wallet.
The Microsoft Passport "wallet", launched by Microsoft and ninemsn, allows consumers to store credit card, billing and other information at a single location and use it to shop at multiple online stores, Microsoft said.
The goal is to save users the hassle of re-entering their personal data at each site where they shop, and so encourage them to do more shopping online, Microsoft says.
Harvey Sanchez, senior marketing manager for Microsoft consumer and commerce group, admitted hackers would only have to guess a users' password in order to access their personal account information or to make online purchases using their credit card details.
On opening a Passport account, he said, consumers would be requested to include at least one number and one capital letter in their password in an attempt to confuse hackers.
Sanchez said online shoppers were frustrated by lengthy online registration forms requiring personal information and taking as long as 20 minutes to complete, and Passport would avoid that situation.
"There are too many ID's to remember . . . too many passwords," he said.
Sanchez said the goal of Passport was to streamline the consumer process.
"It takes six visits before a consumer makes a purchase," he said. "The important thing is to turn those six visits into one."
Around 20 online retailers have signed up for the service through Microsoft's retail portal ninemsn.