Hong Kong companies were last week warned against asking people for their identity card numbers to prove someone is who they say they are. Thomas Parenty, president of Parenty Consulting, criticised companies that used the first six digits of an identity card number as the default password for secure online systems. Several broadband operators, phone companies and electronic banking services use identity card numbers as the default password for new accounts. Mr Parenty said an online identity, such as one used to access electronic banking or other secure services, consisted of two elements. The first was the identifier, such as the user-name by which the system recognises an individual user. The identifier should be something that is public knowledge, such as a person's name. The second part, the password or authenticator, should be kept private.