Security, Commerce and the Internet As the internet / world wide web (www), gradually became more available to ordinary computer users, it was obvious that it would become a target market for commercial retailers, financial services, etc. The benefits to seller and buyer are readily apparent – shopping and banking from home; travel arrangements; ticket reservations; and holidays can all be purchased quickly and accurately. Access to a modem and a credit card will secure a wide range of goods and services. This all seems a perfect system – immediacy, accuracy, convenience – the commercial transaction between seller and buyer simplified and streamlined. However, how can the security of the customer be protected? How can an internet user be sure that their details ~ personal information, address, credit card no.’s , etc. ~ will not be ‘snatched’; by persons unknown? How can the person be sure that their absence from home is not being inadvertently advertised on the net? How can the home banker be sure that their financial status remains confidential? In this essay, I will be examining some of the above issues, and attempting to show that ‘security weaknesses’ do represent a barrier to commerce on the net; but I will also evaluate some of the measures currently available to strengthen security.
In general terms, as soon as you install an internet package on your PC at home and connect your modem, you have opened a window into your computer through which anyone (should they have the skill) can look. This may not present a major threat to the average user as far as confidentiality goes (how many readers have truly, truly, ‘national security threatening’ private documents that cannot be disclosed? ! ), however, embarrassing private information could be made public. Also possible is the ability to trace which sites have been visited by you and how frequently, thus enabling a competent user to build a quite accurate profile of you. Apart from access to private information, it is possible for the ‘hackers’ to cause your browser to crash, causing delays in work schedules, etc. Security really becomes an issue when you consider large multinational companies that rely on confidentiality (in terms of design specifications, etc. ) to ensure profit.
For years, Macs and PCs have been competing for home users. Apple has recently released the new iMac, and the notebook version of the iMac the iBook. Even though several years ago, Macs were better than PCs, now, PCs are better than Macs for home users in terms of performance and expansion options. To some consumers, performance is often the most important factor in buying a computer. Performance ...
If these companies have a web site (as most do! ), there is a good chance that malicious users will be able to penetrate the firewall defences and gain access to this information. That is not to say that they will be interested in this information, they may only redesign the web pages to cause maximum embarrassment to the company. In general, ‘there are three overlapping types of risk’; . Systems that have been set up poorly (or that contain bugs) can allow intruders to: – gain access to and modify the company system; look at private company information (accounts details, payroll figures, etc. ); and render machines temporarily unusable. As you would expect, different systems provide different levels of protection against this form of attack.
Basically, the more an OS has to offer you, the more likely it is to have breaches in its security. For example, UNIX, while being a complex operating system with a lot of functions and attributes would probably have more known security holes than a Windows OS. You have to balance up what you want your operating system to do against what you can afford in terms of security breaches. All of this paints a gloomy picture.
Over the past decade Panther Industries has been providing banks worldwide with safe banking solutions and protection against cybercriminals. However with 128 million malware programs written each year1, banking institutions are only becoming more vulnerable to the threats of cyber-attacks. So it is no surprise that Panther Industries – a world leader in web-banking technology has itself become a ...
However, as fast as hackers are coming up with ways to circumvent or nullify security systems, cryptographers are developing new and better ones. One of these is the RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adelman) public key (asymmetric) algorithm. The basis of this is that you use one key (approaching 100 digits long) to encrypt a message or transaction and a different key to decrypt (or decipher) the information. The selling point of this is that even with the encryption key, it is not practically possible to work out the decryption key (and vice-versa).
One key can be public knowledge (published in a newspaper for example) and the other can be kept a secret so that only certain people can decipher the information you send, i. e.
the financial institution you sent your credit card details to. Also there is the IDEA (International Data Encryption Algorithm) public key algorithm, which is considered to be very safe, especially when combined with RSA to produce PGP, another extremely secure public key algorithm. Digital signatures, another form of public key encryption, are used to verify the sender of a particular body of information. Cryptographic hash functions are another form of encryption, typically producing hash values of over 128 bits, in all probability more than the number of different messages likely to be exchanged around the world. Of course the complexity of the algorithm determines how easy it will be to work out, with the difficulty increasing exponentially with the length of the key. All of the above is an overview of the various types of frailty communicating data over the net can possess.
Basically, if you are accessing a secure site and you are sure your own browser is free from interference, you will be able to shop, work, etc. over the internet with no problems. If you ” re using a site run by a big company (Microsoft, IBM, Visa, etc. ) which has been design with security in mind you shouldn’t encounter any difficulties.
The Visa site, for example, has information on internet shopping security and reassures customers of its integrity and safety. It uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and SET (Secure Electronic Transaction) to provide a reliable service. In conclusion, I would say that security weaknesses are a problem when dealing with internet commerce, but they aren’t the major stumbling block. I feel that (especially in the case of the older generation) there is a fear of advanced technology, or perhaps just a fear of anything new. There is a ‘can’t teach old dogs new tricks’; mentality amongst some that is holding back the true expansion of commerce on the internet.
... is a public-key encryption algorithm. RSA gets its security from the difficulty of factoring large numbers. The public and private keys are functions of ... to try and read it. Encryption Encryption is the answer that has been developed to protect information from eyes that were never ... valuable, the amount of money spent on protecting the information also increases. An example of this would be someone ...
I think that in time, as subsequent generations grow up with the influence of the net, commerce will flourish, by that time however, cryptography will have advance to the stage where shopping on the net is as safe as going to the corner shop. Refs: 1. http: //www. w 3/org/Security/2. web web.